We’ve seen a wave of Black women come to the forefront of primetime television in recent months, but as we all know — Hollywood still has a long way to go in terms of diversity.
Even after winning an Academy Award for Best Actress (and still being the only Black woman to do so), Halle Berry reveals that she still struggles getting good roles as a woman of color.
Check out a few excerpts from her interview with The Guardian:
Weren’t you tempted to accept big mainstream hits in the wake of winning your best actress Oscar (3), rather than a tough, heavyweight drama?
If anybody tells you after winning an Oscar they can pick out things that will be hits, they’re lying!
Is it depressing that you’re still the only black female actor to have won it?
I’m disappointed. I’m inspired though, when I see how many people of colour are doing such good work out there. The quality and value of our work isn’t determined by an award. I would like to see more of them recognized, absolutely, but we all need to find the win in the work, and doing our craft. The real win is when we’re not just selling stories of color, that people of colour can be in everyday stories. Where we’re not saying: “These are the movies for black people.”
There has also been debate about the quality of roles for women over 40. (4)
I’ve always had a hard time getting roles, being of color, so I’ve got as many available to me as I’ve always had – there’s no difference for me. When I was 21, it was as hard as it is now when I’m 48. For me it’s the same [laughs grimly].
You are starring in and producing Extant with Amazon’s streaming service – is it the case that a lot of the best roles are on TV now?
Anyone in this industry will tell you that that’s where the best writing is. Good actors are going to TV. It’s not just about making movies any more, and movies are becoming harder and harder to make. That taboo of television is long gone. There was a time when movies were [awed whisper] “movies!” But now we have big screens in our homes.
Is there a Frankie and Alice-type passion project you still want to make?
I really would love to one day tell the story of Angela Davis (5). I don’t think she wants a story of her life to be told at this time, and I would never do that without her blessing. But that has always been a passion of mine. She’s just fascinating: the era she lived in, the Black Panthers and all that they stood for, and her connection to it, or not to it. I have a lot of respect for how she lived her life.
Are there lessons from that era of radical black thought that can be applied today?
That was a moment in time never to be recreated – politically it’s a different climate today. I think it’s very important that that time happened, but I’m not so sure that kind of organization would have much of a place today.
Check out the rest of Halle’s interview here.