Halle Berry fancies more women coming forward telling inspiring women’s stories.
The veteran American actress and model, kicked off her directorial career this year with Bruised, a sports drama series that aired on The CW and TBS. At Critics Choice Awards 2022 held on Sunday, Halle Berry made a special appearance to collect the SeeHer award.
SeeHer award is an accolade to recognize women who push the limits and confront stereotypes. Berry’s illustrious career, which spans over 30 years as a model, producer, actor, and now director, perfectly qualifies her for this award. This appreciation is for those empowering women who personify values laid down by the SeeHer advocacy group. This movement promotes accurate portrayals of females in advertising and media.
Berry was extended the award by the creator and actor of “Insecure;” Issa Rae, who the 55-year old actress thanked for her inspirational work. “You have rearranged the way we see ourselves as women of color on television and in the world,” Berry stated at the start of her enlivening acceptance speech.
As Berry remembered her time in the entertainment industry, she enunciated about her journey of starring in and directing “Bruised,” a movie about a Black woman MMA boxer. Berry also recollected the first time she read the script, “I realized that it wasn’t written for someone that looked like me. So I went to the producers and I said, ‘Why not me? Why can’t it be a Black woman.’ They said, ‘Why not?’”
The producers uniformly agreed to have Berry, a first-time director, lead the project. Although once the film came on screens, she “gathered the courage” to get feedback from someone about the movie.
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“He said, ‘I have a hard time watching a woman get battered and beaten. It made me feel uncomfortable,’” she stated. “And, in that moment, I knew exactly why I had to tell this story. I knew exactly the power of the story, because I said, ‘If you had a hard time, if it made you uncomfortable watching that story, imagine being that woman living that story?’”
That’s the strength of imposing storytelling, she elucidated, “[Storytelling] can raise our consciousness and help us think outside of ourselves and our individual circumstances,” she said. “I realized that we truly need to see each other’s reality — no matter how uncomfortable it makes us — so that we can stop judging and stop pointing fingers, but rather find compassion and empathy for the others.”
“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. But you know what, wanna know why that didn’t work? Because, if you didn’t know, I’m not a white man,” stated Berry with a chuckle. “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.”
Berry also admitted that she used to imagine she was “winning” by portraying a part originally meant for a white man. However, she repeatedly found that those characters didn’t really click. Why?
“Because I’m not a white man,” she retorted. “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 further added, “This is why I am so grateful to be standing and living in this moment where women are standing up and we are telling our own stories….… We will write, we will produce, we will direct, and if we’re brave enough, will star in it all at the same time. We will use our emotional intelligence and we will tell stories that don’t fit preconceived notions.”
Instead, she divulged, it’s time to create and watch stories for women in which viewers say, “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!”
While the whole audience cheered and clapped for her, Berry called out, “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.”
In the end, Berry concluded her winning speech by dedicating her award, she stated, “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.”
Watch the complete speech given by Berry in the link below:
The honor of receiving the SeeHer comes for Berry just after months she received the People’s Icon Award in early December at the People’s Choice Awards. Zendaya was the recipient of last year’s SeeHer Award.
Back in November, PEOPLE had an interview with Berry, in which she spoke about what was the inspiration behind her trying to do the directing part with Bruised. Bruised was also a series in which she was playing the character as a retired MMA fighter named Jackie Justice, who decides to get back in the ring after she reconnects with her young son.
“I was told a long time ago that if you’re going to direct a story and be a filmmaker, especially your first movie, you best make it about something that you love and something you intrinsically understand,” at that time she said. “And I love the fight game. I understand this world and I understand what it is to be a woman fighting to survive.”
“I know what it’s like to make mistakes and want another chance.” Berry also added, “I know what it’s like to hope for redemption and ask for forgiveness. These are all things that I understand very, very deeply. And those are the themes of this movie.”
Bruised is currently available on Netflix for streaming.