Halle Berry made history 15 years ago as the first woman of colour to win the coveted Academy Award for best actress for her role in “Monster’s Ball.” Since then, only eight women of colour have been nominated for best actress, and none of them have won.
In an interview with Teen Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Elaine Welteroth, Berry discussed how meaningless her historic Oscar win felt after the 2016 Oscar nominations were announced and not a single black actor received a nomination.
“I sat there and I really thought, ‘Wow, that moment really meant nothing. It meant nothing. I thought it meant something, but I think it meant nothing,” she told Vogue.
Despite Berry’s initial disappointment at the time of the 2016 Academy Awards, Berry is now contemplating ways she can help cultivate a more diverse Hollywood.
“It inspired me to try to get involved in other ways, which is why I want to start directing,” she told Vogue. “I want to start producing more. I want to start making more opportunities for people of colour. I have conversations more deeply with Academy members, and I’m trying to figure out how to help and add more diversity to the Academy.”
The Academy announced Wednesday that it has extended a record-breaking 774 memberships this year, with 30% of invitees going to people of colour, and 39% are women, according to Los Angeles Times — the most diverse group of invitees in the Academy’s history. Should all 774 people accept their invites, this would drive the Academy’s membership of people of colour up to 13%, and female membership up to 28%. Critics of the Academy will likely point out there’s still more progress to be made, but it does seem to indicate that the Academy has been paying attention to the widespread criticism its faced recently.
Perhaps the biggest criticism the Academy has faced in recent years has come from #OscarsSoWhite, which began as a Twitter hashtag used to call out the overwhelmingly white 2016 Oscar nominations and then quickly gained traction and turned into a movement. The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag resurfaced during the 2017 Oscars (despite there being a much more diverse selection of nominees) in an effort to highlight that there’s still plenty to be done to diversify Hollywood.
It sounds like Halle Berry agrees.
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