In an Instagram Live interview this weekend with hairstylist Christin Brown, actress Halle Berry discussed potentially playing a transgender man in an upcoming film project. The conversation received swift backlash from transgender people and allies, both for the film’s hypothetical casting of a cisgender woman as a trans man and for Berry’s misgendering of the character in the interview. On Monday evening, the actress apologized for contemplating playing the part. “As a cisgender woman, I now understand I should not have considered this role,” says Berry.
“Over the weekend I had the opportunity to discuss my consideration of an upcoming role as a transgender man, and I’d like to apologize for those remarks,” the actress said in a statement posted to Twitter. “As a cisgender woman, I now understand that I should not have considered this role, and that the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories.”
“I am grateful for the guidance and critical conversations over the past few days and I will continue to listen, educate and learn from this mistake,” she continued. “I vow to be an ally in using my voice to promote better representation on-screen, both in front of and behind the camera.”
However, as some on social media have pointed out, the actress didn’t seem to reflect on her misgendering the character as a woman while discussing the role. “She’s a character in a project I love that I might be doing,” Berry said in the interview. “It’s really important to me to tell stories, and that’s a woman. That’s a female story. It changes to a man, but I want to understand the why and how of that.”
The controversy also reminded some of the backlash to Scarlett Johansson’s casting as trans mob boss Dante “Tex” Gill in the historical drama Rub & Tub. “You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job,” Johansson said at the time, though after she withdrew from the role, she apologized for her “insensitive” comments. “I wasn’t aware of that conversation — I was uneducated,” the actress told Vanity Fair in November. “So I learned a lot through that process. I misjudged that.”