|Halle Maria Berry (born August 14, 1966 in
Cleveland, Ohio) is an Emmy, Golden Globe and
Academy Award-winning American actress and
former fashion model and beauty queen. In 2002,
Berry won Best Actress at the Academy Awards for
her role in Monster's Ball.
Early life and career
Berry's parents selected her first name from
that of Halle's Department Store, which was then
a local landmark in her birthplace of Cleveland,
Ohio. She is the daughter of Judith Ann Hawkins,
a Liverpudlian, and Jerome J. Berry, who is
African American. Berry's maternal grandmother,
Nellie Dicken, was born in Sawley, Derbyshire,
England, while her maternal grandfather, Earl
Ellsworth Hawkins, was born in Ohio. Berry's
parents divorced when she was 4 years old and
she subsequently was raised by her mother, a
psychiatric nurse. Her father was an orderly in
the same psychiatric ward where her mother
worked. Berry has an older sister, Heidi who was
born seven years before her.It was at this age
that a young Halle was diagnosed with Type I
Diabetes, which dampened her family life.
Berry was a popular student at Bedford High
School and was a cheerleader, honor society
member, editor of the school newspaper, class
president and prom queen. She worked in the
children's department at Higbee's Department
store. She subsequently attended Cuyahoga
Before becoming an actress, she entered and won
several beauty contests, including Miss Ohio
USA, Miss Teen All-American, Miss USA (was first
runner-up in 1986 to Christy Fichtner of Texas),
and Miss World 1986 (as "Miss United States
World", she placed sixth in a contest won by
Trinidad & Tobago's Giselle Laronde). In the
Miss USA 1986 pageant interview competition, she
said she hoped to become an entertainer, or to
have something to do with the media or
newspaper. Her interview was awarded the highest
score by the judges.
In the late 1980s, she went to Chicago, to
pursue a modeling career as well as acting. One
of her first acting projects was a television
series for local cable by Gordon Lake
Productions called "Chicago Force."
Berry auditioned for a role in an updated
Charlie's Angels television series by producer
Aaron Spelling. At the time, Spelling wanted one
of the "Angels" to be an African American woman.
She did not get the role (because the project
never materialized) but she impressed Spelling
with her skills, who encouraged her to continue
perfecting her craft.
In 1989, Berry landed the role of brainy Emily
Franklin in the short-lived ABC television
series Living Dolls (a spin-off of Who's the
Boss?). Her breakthrough feature film role was
in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever in which she played
a drug addict named Vivian. Her first
co-starring role was in the film Strictly
Business. Another early role Berry played was
the villain/friend in the Flintstones movie as
"Sharon Stone", in a part rumored to have been
intended for Sharon Stone (Berry would later
co-star alongside Stone in Catwoman). In 1996,
she played the role of Sandra Beecher in Race
the Sun, which was based on a true story. The
year before, Berry really caught the public's
attention with her portrayal as a female
biracial slave in the TV adaption of Queen: The
Story of an American Family, by Alex Haley.
Berry is also known by many comic book fans for
her portrayal of the regal mutant Storm in the
movie adaptation of the popular comic book
series X-Men (2000) and its successful sequels
X2: X-Men United (2003) and X-Men: The Last
In late 2001, Berry appeared as Leticia Musgrove,
the wife of an executed murderer, in the film
Monster's Ball. The role earned her an Academy
Award for Best Actress.
As Bond Girl Jinx in 2002's Die Another Day she
famously re-created the scene from Dr. No,
bursting from the surf - scantily clad - to be
greeted by James Bond, as Ursula Andress did 40
In late 2003, Berry starred in the psychological
thriller Gothika opposite Charles S. Dutton,
which was the first film that she "carried,"
i.e., her role was the most important one in the
film. Her next lead role was in the film
Catwoman, for which she was awarded a "worst
actress" Razzie award in 2005, which she
actually accepted in person with a sense of
humour and recognition that "to be at the top,
you must experience the rock bottom".
She has recently wrapped (2006) filming the
thriller Perfect Stranger with Bruce Willis and
is next set to star in Things We Lost in the
Fire with Benicio Del Toro.
Berry is also making a transition to behind the
scenes work in film and television. She is
working with author Angela Nissel to executive
produce a comedy series based on Nissel's two
memoirs, The Broke Diaries and Mixed: My Life in
Black and White.
Berry has served many years as the face of
Revlon cosmetics and was recently named the new
face of Versace. She is featured in Maxim
magazine's Girls of Maxim gallery. She is also
one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood,
commanding $14 million each for Gothika and
Berry has been married twice. Her first marriage
in 1992 to pro baseball player David Justice
ended in a 1996 divorce due to alleged
infidelity and incompatibility. Her second
marriage in 2001 to musician Eric Benét has
resulted in a 2004 separation (and 2005 divorce)
allegedly due to Benét's infidelity. In 2004,
after their separation, Berry stated "I want
love, and I will find it, hopefully".
As of 2006, she is currently dating Canadian
model Gabriel Aubry, who is nine years her
junior. The couple met at a Versace photoshoot.
After six months with Aubry, she stated in an
interview "I'm really happy in my personal life,
which is a novelty to me. You know I'm not the
girl that has the best relationships".
Berry recently revealed to Extra that she plans
to adopt children. "I will adopt if it doesn't
happen for me naturally", she said. "I will
definitely adopt. And I probably will adopt even
if it does happen naturally". It has since been
speculated that Aubry, who lived in five foster
families between the ages of 3 and 18, possibly
inspired Berry's interest in adoption.
When speaking on the likelihood of future
marriage, Berry stated "I want a relationship
because I am a relationship oriented person. I
just no longer need to do it the traditional
way...That paper isn't as important as it used
to be". Later, she stated "I never want to
be married again. I guess you could say I have
bad taste in men. But I no longer feel the need
to be someone's wife. I don't feel like I need
to be validated by being in a marriage."
When speaking on the subject of having her own
biological child, Berry has recently indicated
that she has given thought to Aubry being the
father, but that it is too early for that level
of commitment involving a biological child
between them. She stated that they both share
the same feelings against the need to be
married, and she indicated this to be one of she
and Aubry's many strong bonds with one another.
She stated that both feel the need to commit to
one person emotionally and physically, but
neither feels the obligation to marry in order
to make that commitment official.
Berry won the best actress Oscar in 2002 for
Monster's Ball, becoming the first African
American woman to win this award. She won the
award despite the fact that she had won far
fewer critics awards than her main competitor
that year, Sissy Spacek.
Berry won an Emmy and a Golden Globe in 1999 for
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a
Movie for her portrayal of Dorothy Dandridge in
the HBO movie Introducing Dorothy Dandridge.
Interestingly, Dorothy Dandridge was the first
African American woman to be nominated for a
best actress Academy Award. Another similarity
the two women shared was being born in the same
Berry "won" a Razzie for her infamously poor
performance in 2004's Catwoman. She made
headlines by accepting her award in person, an
unusual gesture that was last performed by Tom
Green in 2001. Berry accepted her award with
dignity, saying, "When I was a kid, my mother
told me that if you could not be a good loser,
then there's no way you could be a good winner"
but adding "I hope to God I never see these
people again!" shortly afterward. At the podium,
she appeared with her Razzie in one hand, and
her 2002 Oscar in the other (see e.g. BBC News).
Halle Berry won The Hasty Pudding Theatricals
Woman of the Year Award for year 2006.
In February 2000, she was involved in a car
accident when she struck another vehicle after
running a red light and left the scene before
the police arrived. Berry, who had sustained a
head injury, later stated she had no
recollection of the accident and pleaded no
contest to a misdemeanor charge. She paid a
fine, made restitution to the other driver,
performed community services, and was placed on
three years’ probation.
Berry's portrayal of Storm in the X-Men films
has provoked some criticism and controversy from
fans of the series as well as critics. Some fans
of the character of Storm refer to Berry as "HalleStorm"
or "movie Storm". One of the most obvious
deviations from the comics is that Berry's Storm
is some four or five inches shorter than comic
Storm, who is cited at 5'11" tall. (It should be
noted, however, that Hugh Jackman, who played
Wolverine, is nearly a foot taller than the
comics version of his character, and this hardly
ever seems to make controversy.) Furthermore,
Storm is half African-American, half Kenyan;
Berry is of mixed race, and her skin tone is
much lighter than how Storm is usually drawn.
Also, Berry's Storm has dark brown eyes, but
comic Storm's eyes are blue. Another criticism
leveled was her African accent, made clear in
the first film, which disappeared completely in
Further controversy would occur after Berry
allegedly stated on a talk show that because of
a lack of roles for black women in Hollywood,
she'd been "reduced to playing a comic book
character". Berry denies having said this, and
co-star Sir Ian McKellen maintaintans that Berry
was misquoted, saying, "Halle's observations
about the scarcity of work for black women in
Hollywood have obviously been misunderstood by
some of the press."