The perception of Hollywood is glitz glam and beautiful people. Therefore, hearing an actress vocalise that her beauty almost hindered her career, is very surprising.
American actress Halle Berry, who recently turned the big 50 sat down with W Magazine and spoke about the challenges she faced as a young actress coming from a beauty pageant world.
The former fashion model encountered discrimination and was quickly discredited as an actress. Deemed too beautiful to be taken seriously, Halle was often told that her beauty was unconvincing for the roles she would try out for. Halle, who once was first runner up for a Miss USA pageant, purposely auditioned for complex roles to avoid being type casted.
She appeared in 1991 film Jungle Fever, directed, produced and written by Spike Lee. In the film Berry plays a Crack Ho, she initially read the part of lead actor Wesley Snipes wife, but Berry saw the opportunity to play a character that did not typecast her based on her looks, so she requested to audition for the role of Vivian.
Talking to W Magazine Halle recalled ‘I read that part fine enough, but then I said to Spike, You know, I really am eyeing up this Crack Ho role, can you please let me audition for that?’’ and he said No no!, I don’t see you as a crack ho. She replied I am a Crack Ho really deep down I’m the Crack Ho!. In order to look slightly convincing during her audition Halle went to the bathroom and washed off all her makeup, and the rest is history!
Berry had to convince another director for an opportunity that solidified her as a serious actress. Starring in 2001’s Monster’s Ball, a Lionsgate film directed by Lee Daniels. The actress played the role of Leticia, a young struggling single mother, with a husband on Death Row, and a son who later dies after being hit by a car. Leticia then falls in love with Hank played by Billy Bob Thornton, unknowingly who participated in the execution of her husband! A very tough and challenging role, with a very graphic sex scene! The audience were very convinced by Halle’s performance and that year, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Making her one of the only few black women to ever win an Oscar. She fought for the opportunity to star in the role as Lee Daniels was not convinced that such a beauty could pull off the role of Leticia convincingly. But Berry proved all her critics wrong by winning the Oscar.
Halle has gone on to win many Best Actress awards, from the Oscar in 2002, to Emmys and Golden Globes. She continues to pick complex roles to showcase her diversity and ability to be more than just a pretty face.
I am positive that a lot of people both men and women appreciated her in roles such as Cat Women, Storm and Die Another Day and Sword Fish which were roles where people were able to appreciate the beauty that is Halle Berry.