Halle Berry, the only African-American woman to win the Academy Award for best actress, broke her silence Tuesday on the controversy that followed this year’s lack of minority nominations in the acting categories.
“The films, I think, that are coming out of Hollywood aren’t truthful,” Berry 49, said at the second annual Makers Conference, held in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. “And the reason they’re not truthful, these days, is that they’re not really depicting the importance and the involvement and the participation of people of color in our American culture.”
She added, “It’s really about truth telling. And as filmmakers and as actors, we have a responsibility to tell the truth.”
The actress recalled her historic Oscar for 2001’s “Monster’s Ball,” saying, “Honestly, that win almost 15 years ago was iconic, it was important to me, but I had the knowing in the moment that it was bigger than me. I believed that in that moment, that when I said, ‘The door tonight has been opened,’ I believed that with every bone in my body that this was going to incite change because this door, this barrier, had been broken.”
But, she went on, “To sit here almost 15 years later, and knowing that another woman of color has not walked through that door, is heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking, because I thought that moment was bigger than me. It’s heartbreaking to start to think maybe it wasn’t bigger than me. Maybe it wasn’t. And I so desperately felt like it was.”
Berry was one of nearly 50 speakers at the conference by the women’s leadership organization Makers. Others included Caitlyn Jenner, America Ferrera, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, author and pioneering feminist Gloria Steinem, Olympic gold medalist Abby Wambach, journalist Katie Couric, photographer Annie Leibovitz, several female business leaders and an FDNY firefighter, Regina Wilson.