We all remember the moment when Halle Berry stood on the Oscars stage and accepted her award for Best Actress. As the first and only woman of color to win the coveted award, she expressed her joy by saying the door had opened for everyone. Fifteen years later, we know that hasn’t exactly been the case.
While other celebrities have made their opinions on the state of Hollywood known, Berry has been noticeably silent. While at the 2016 MAKERS Conference (a gathering of the world’s most impactful leaders and innovators for a 36-hour action plan), she finally spoke out against the diversity issue at the Oscars.
In a word, she’s heartbroken.
During her moment of victory, Berry says she believed the moment was bigger than her — that she had opened the door for all other women of color to follow her.
“I believed that with every bone in my body that this was going to incite change because this door, this barrier, had been broken,” the actress explained. “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 went on to say that it comes down to telling the truth in the stories coming out of Hollywood’s studios.
“As filmmakers and as actors, we have a responsibility to tell the truth. And the films, I think, that are coming out of Hollywood aren’t truthful.” In her observation, movies are not showing the importance and involvement of people of color in American culture.
The award-winning actress went on to explain it doesn’t have to be about inclusion or diversity because if Hollywood is telling the truth, they will include people of all backgrounds.
“Inclusion and diversity will be a byproduct of the truth,” she said.
Maybe the most inspiring part of Berry’s interview happened when she talked about her plan to be a part of bringing the truth back to Hollywood storytelling. The actress started a company last year, 606 Films, to give herself and other women the opportunity to star in major motion pictures.
“I realized that not only had no other woman of color walked through that door, but I hadn’t gotten close either. So something was wrong, and I realized I had to be in charge of my own destiny.”
How’s that for a little #GirlBoss mentality?
Whether or not Berry’s statements change the way the Oscars, or Hollywood, fixes the diversity issue, one thing is for sure — she’s not waiting around to find out. She’s going to do it herself and help others along the way.
AOL’s MAKERS is the largest collection of women’s stories online. It features more than 3,000 videos and stories of more than 300 women. You can watch the rest of the videos from the conference on MAKERS’ site.