Oscar-winner Halle Berry came under scrutiny after she revealed in an Instagram Live interview on Friday she was preparing for a project in which she would play a transgender man. Berry was criticized for taking a role from a transgender actor and misgendering the character throughout her interview. On Monday, Berry announced she was withdrawing herself from consideration for the part.
Berry sat down for an hour-long interview with hairstylist Christina Brown and said she was considering taking the role of a transgender person who transitioned from a woman to a man. "[It's] a character where the woman is a trans character, so she's a woman that transitioned into a man," the actress told Brown, reports E! News. "She's a character in a project I love that I might be doing."
Berry said the project was pitched to her just before she began work on Bruised, which is slated to debut during the Toronto Film Festival in September. "This project got pitched to me right when I was on the brink of making Bruised and making my directorial debut and I so was in the mindset of getting in the body to play that," Berry said. "But this got pitched to me, and I thought, after I do this movie, that's the character I'm going to play."
Hi @halleberry, we heard you're considering playing a trans man in your next project. We ask that you please watch @Disclosure_Doc on @netflix first to understand how cis actors like yourself acting in trans roles has major cultural consequences offscreen. #DisclosureNetflix— Disclosure Documentary (@Disclosure_Doc) July 6, 2020
The Monster's Ball star said she was going to do a "deep dive" into the "world" of the trans community. She said the character was "so interesting to me" and it would be her next project. She would have to cut off her hair for the part. She also called the movie a "female story" that is "important" to share.
Social media users quickly took offense to Berry's words, noting she is a cisgender star taking a part from a trans actor. The filmmakers behind Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen, a new Netflix film about Hollywood's portrayal of transgender people, called Berry out on Twitter, asking for her to reconsider playing a trans man. After Berry announced she would not play the part, the filmmakers thanked her for "listening and learning."prevnext
Halle Berry on playing a trans man in her next movie: “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. I want to get into it.”
Cis actors need to stop doing this.— Serena Daniari (@serenajazmine) July 6, 2020
In her statement Monday, Berry apologized for her comments and said she now understands "that I should not have considered this role, and that the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories." She is "grateful for the guidance and critical conversation" she had over the weekend and will "continue to listen, educate and learn from this mistake. I vow to be an ally in using my voice to promote better representation on-screen, both in front of and behind the camera."prevnext
Cannot overstate the extent to which the way Berry misgenders and appropriates her character in this interview is how cis women habitually talk about trans men IRL. https://t.co/Y7n8mBmcjG— (((Jay Edidin))) (@NotLasers) July 6, 2020
Trans rights groups and activists have been pushing Hollywood to stop casting cisgender actors as trans people. In 2018, Scarlett Johansson was set to play a transgender character in a movie called Rub and Tug, but she withdrew from the part after facing backlash.prevnext
i don’t think halle berry is some horrible transphobe. i think she’s an example of why trans people should play trans people. we understand our own experiences better than cis ppl can and can navigate tricky language situations that cis ppl might flub from inexperience.— ♔ james frederick ♔ (@freddietrmpr) July 6, 2020
Thank you for listening and learning and providing opportunities for trans folks to have this role. 🙏🏾— April (@ReignOfApril) July 7, 2020
After Berry released a statement confirming she would no longer take the part, many thanked her for her decision. "We are pleased that [Berry] listened to the concerns of transgender people and learned from them. Other powerful people should do the same. A good place to start is by watching [Disclosure] to learn about trans representation in media," GLAAD said in its own statement.prevnext
.@halleberry Thank you for hearing us and for taking the time to listen and understand our concerns. Furthermore, I appreciate your vow to take action and use your platform to promote better representation and opportunities for marginalized artists on both sides of the lens. 🖤✊🏾 https://t.co/gistCQV0xG— Brian Michael Smith (@TheBrianMichael) July 7, 2020
Thanks to Halle Berry for listening, and stepping away from this role. Everyone should watch @Disclosure_Doc on Netflix to better understand the history of Trans representation in the media. @SamFederFilm @LaverneCox https://t.co/IM5pLRrCwv— Sarah O'Connell (@SarahO_Connell) July 7, 2020
Thanks for listening and learning. We need more of this in Hollywood. https://t.co/dmhcAPJ6QM— Alex (@pxl8d) July 7, 2020