Halle Berry has been breaking barriers since she stepped on the scene. But in 2002, she made history when she became the first Black actress to win Best Actress at the Oscars for her role in Monster's Ball. While several Black actresses have won in the category of Best Supporting Actress, no one has come behind Berry's win. It's been 20 years since another Black actress has won, making Berry the first and only at this time. It's not something Berry appreciates.
In a recent interview with New York Times, Berry spoke about her disappointment that she couldn't "open the door" for others after her win. "The fact that there's no one standing next to me is heartbreaking." Since Berry's win, the Academy has nominated only seven Black women have for Best Actress: Gabourey Sidibe for her role in Precious, Viola Davis for her role in The Help, Quvenzhané Wallis for her role in Beasts of the Southern Wild, Ruth Negga for her role in Loving, Cynthia Erivo for her role in Harriet, Viola Davis for the second time for her role in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, and Andra Day for her role as the jazz great in The United States vs. Billie Holiday.
Still, Berry does believe that progress has been made. Her comments come ahead of the 2022 Academy Awards set to air on Sunday, March 27, 2022.
"We can't always judge success or progress by how many awards we have. Awards are the icing on the cake — they're your peers saying you were exceptionally excellent this year — but does that mean that if we don't get the exceptionally excellent nod, that we were not great, and we're not successful, and we're not changing the world with our art, and our opportunities aren't growing?" Berry asked.
In her iconic acceptance speech for her history-making award, Berry dedicated her win to Dorothy Dandridge, the first Black woman to be nominated in the category for her work Carmen Jones. Dandridge lost to Grace Kelly. Berry also named several of her Black actress friends and peers, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett and Vivica A. Fox.
It's not the first time Berry has spoken on the lack of diversity in Best Actress wins since her win. She told Entertainment Tonight in 2016 that it's "heartbreaking."