Halle Berry, the first-ever black woman to win an Academy Award for Best Actress, described the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar nominees as “heartbreaking” on Tuesday while speaking at the 2016 Makers Conference in Los Angeles, California.
Berry, who won the historic award in 2002 for her role in Monster’s Ball, spoke about Hollywood’s failure to provide more opportunities for minority performers, specifically in regards to this year’s renewed #OscarsSoWhite controversy.
In her 2002 Oscars acceptance speech, Berry tearfully said, “This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It’s for the women that stand beside me — Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox.” Berry also proclaimed that her Oscar win “opened” the door for other women of color.
However, since Berry’s win, no other woman of color has won the award, and for the last two years, the Academy has nominated exclusively white actors.
According to Deadline, Berry told Creative Artists Agency managing partner Kevin Huvane that she thought her “iconic” win would be a turning point for black actresses.
“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,” she said.
She added: “And 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,” she said.
Berry concluded saying filmmakers and as actors “have a responsibility to tell the truth,” and that films coming out of Hollywood “aren’t truthful.”
“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 said.