Halle Berry Wants Women to Tell Their Stories

Halle Berry Wants Women to Tell Their Stories

by Hedy Phillips

At the 27th annual Critics’ Choice Awards, Halle Berry was awarded special trophy for her work in Hollywood. The SeeHer Award, given to a woman who “advocates for gender equality, portrays characters with authenticity, defies stereotypes and pushes boundaries,” is well-earned by Berry, who has endlessly broken barriers in the entertainment industry.

Making her directorial debut last year with the film Bruised, Berry has continued to be an inspiration for women everywhere. And in accepting her award, presented by fellow powerful woman (and PAPER cover star) Issa Rae, Berry touched on how difficult her journey has been — yet how rewarding.

"I've been in the business for 30 years, and I used to think that if I could play the part of a white man, then I was winning,” she said. “But you know what, wanna know why that didn't work? Because, if you didn't know, I'm not a white man. So for those roles to work, they would have to be substantially changed. It would have to be written with the reality of my journey, in all of its beauty and all of its pain."

She went on to say that she’s so proud and thankful to live in the moment where women are finally telling their own stories, which she wants to see even more of.

"We will use our emotional intelligence and we will tell stories that don't fit preconceived notions. No, we will tell stories that see us fully in all our multitudes and contradictions. Because we are confident and we are scared. We are vulnerable and we are strong. We are everything and all of that and all at the same time."

In a room full of stars, Berry stood out with her inspiring speech, but while she may have been talking to a room in Hollywood, her message transcends space. She closed by inviting young women everywhere to keep fighting to tell their stories and be heard, because every story is worth being shared.

“If we deny our complexities, then we deny our humanity. We won't always be pretty, and we will never be perfect, but what we will be is always honest and true — no matter how uncomfortable that makes you. These are the stories we have to fight to tell, and these are the stories that the world needs to see. So to every little girl who feels unseen and unheard, this is our way of saying to you: We love you and we see you, and you deserve every good thing in this world."

Berry’s Bruised may be a triumph of her career, but it wasn’t a role that she said was made for someone who looked like her. Instead of walking away, she took on the challenge and reworked the role to fit her — and then directed the whole project. Because sitting back and accepting things just isn’t what Berry does.

After winning her first Oscar for Best Actress in 2002 for her role in Monster’s Ball — the first and only Black woman to do so — Berry has continued to create change in Hollywood and make space for Black women. She also devotes time and energy to women- and children-focused organizations and just picked up the People's Icon award at the People's Choice Awards in early December.

You can stream her latest release, Bruised, on Netflix now.

Photo via Getty


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