“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. And it’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened. Thank you. I’m so honored. I’m so honored. And I thank the Academy for choosing me to be the vessel for which His blessing might flow.” – Halle Berry, 2001

Being the first and only black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress would seem like a watershed moment, but for Halle Berry it means “nothing.”

Berry sat down with the Teen Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Elaine Welteroth at Cannes Lion and reflected on the night she took home the top prize for a female actress at the 74th Academy Awards in 2001. Her excitement for her own achievement waned when she saw that the 20 actors nominated in the lead and supporting acting categories in 2016 were all white. It was the second year in a row that no minority actors were nominated for the four acting Oscars.
“I sat there and I really thought, ‘Wow, that moment really meant nothing,” Berry told Welteroth. “It meant nothing. I thought it meant something, but I think it meant nothing.'”
She described it as one of her “lowest moments.” Fifteen years after Berry’s win, she is still the only black actress to take home a Best Actress Oscar.
Berry took to the stage in 2001 for her “Monster’s Ball” performance and dedicated the award to “every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened…This moment is so much bigger than men
But now, Berry said she’s taking matters into her own hands.  “I want to start producing more,” she said. “I want to start making more opportunities for people of color. 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.”

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The HBR Media Team is a collective group of black women filmmakers, writers, and studio/network executives who are passionate about bringing visibility to women of African descent working in film and television.

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