Halle Berry is crushed that she’s still the only Black woman to win the Best Actress award at the Oscars.
“It didn’t open the door,” said Berry, who took home the coveted title 20 years ago for her role in “Monster’s Ball,” in an interview with The New York Times published on Thursday.
“The fact that there’s no one standing next to me is heartbreaking.”
At the time, Berry said, she never expected to win. Footage of the moment at the 2002 Oscars shows her in total disbelief, repeating, “Oh my God, oh my God,” over and over.
On the stage, clutching her golden statue and openly sobbing, she said: “This moment is so much bigger than me.”
She dedicated her win to Dorothy Dandridge, Diahann Carroll, Angela Bassett and other Black women nominated before her.
“It’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened,” she said.
That same night, Denzel Washington became the second Black man to win Best Actor. In the two decades since, two more Black men, Jamie Foxx and Forest Whitaker, have won Best Actor Oscars, but Berry remains the only Black woman to have won the top acting award for women.
Eight years passed before another Black woman was even nominated in the category, and it’s happened just six more times since.
No Black women are nominated for the Best Actress award this year.
Diversity and representation at the Oscars have begun to improve in recent years following public pressure and outcry. In 2015, activist April Reign created the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag when zero of the 20 acting nominees were people of color. The same thing happened in 2016.
Last year, a record nine actors of color were nominated for Oscars. The 2022 lineup features four.
Berry said the lack of another Best Actress win by a woman of color does not detract from the wonderful work being done by her contemporaries.
“We can’t always judge success or progress by how many awards we have,” she said. “Awards are the icing on the cake — they’re your peers saying you were exceptionally excellent this year — but does that mean that if we don’t get the exceptionally excellent nod, that we were not great, and we’re not successful, and we’re not changing the world with our art, and our opportunities aren’t growing?”
The 94th Academy Awards will take place on Sunday.