Almost 15 years ago, in 2002, Halle Berry made history as the first black woman to receive an Oscar in a leading role. But she isn’t all that thrilled with Hollywood’s diversity record since then.
While speaking at the Makers Conference on Tuesday, Berry called the state of diversity in Hollywood the “elephant in the room” and said that she was frustrated by the persistent sameness she saw in the industry.
“I believed that in that moment, that when I said [during my acceptance speech], ‘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.”
Berry’s emotional speech acknowledged Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge and Diahann Carroll as women who’d paved the way for her win, as well as every “nameless woman of color.”
“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 added.
Berry also went on to say that the #OscarsSoWhite controversy was only part of a bigger diversity problem in general.
“As filmmakers and as actors, we have a responsibility to tell the truth,” Berry said. “And the films, I think, that are coming out of Hollywood aren’t truthful. … They’re not really depicting the importance and the involvement and the participation of people of color in our American culture.”