Halle Berry Biography

Halle Berry Biography on Monsters and Critics


"Halle Maria Berry" (; born August 14, 1966) is an American actress. Berry has received Emmy and Golden Globe awards and an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2002 for her performance in "Monster's Ball". She is the only woman of African-American descent to have won the award for Best Actress.


Early life and career

Berry's parents selected her first name from Halle's Department Store, which was then a local landmark in her birthplace of Cleveland, Ohio. She is the daughter of Englishwoman Judith Ann (née Hawkins), a Liverpudlian, and Jerome Jesse Berry, who is African-American. Berry's maternal grandmother, Nellie Dicken, was born in Sawley, Derbyshire, England, while her maternal grandfather, Earl Ellsworth Hawkins (an American), was born in Ohio. Berry's parents divorced when she was 4 years old and she was subsequently raised by her mother, a psychiatric nurse. Her father was an orderly in the same psychiatric ward where her mother worked and later worked as a bus driver. Berry has an older sister, Heidi, who was born two years before her, and an older half-sister, Renee (from a different mother).

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 Community College.

Before becoming an actress, she entered several beauty contests, winning Miss Ohio USA and Miss Teen All-American. Other entries include Miss USA (first runner-up in 1986 to Christy Fichtner of Texas, the second of the Texas Aces), and sixth place in Miss World 1986 (the winner being Trinidad and 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. Her interview was awarded the highest score by the judges.

In 1989, during the taping of the short-lived television series "Living Dolls", Berry lapsed into a coma and was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus type 1.

Hollywood career

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." In 1992, Berry was cast as the love interest in the video for R. Kelly's seminal hit, 'Honey Love'. Berry auditioned for a role in an updated "Charlie's Angels" television series with producer Aaron Spelling. She impressed Spelling and he encouraged her to continue acting.

In 1989, Berry landed the role of 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 1991 film "Strictly Business." In 1992, Berry portrayed a career woman who falls for Eddie Murphy in the romantic comedy "Boomerang." That same year, she caught the public's attention as a headstrong biracial slave in the TV adaption of "Queen: The Story of an American Family", based on the book by Alex Haley. Berry also played the sultry secretary who seduced Fred Flintstone in the live-action "Flintstones" movie as 'Sharon Stone'.

Playing a former drug addict struggling to regain custody of her son in "Losing Isaiah" (1995), Berry showed she could tackle more serious roles, holding her own opposite co-star Jessica Lange. She portrayed Sandra Beecher in "Race the Sun" (1996), which was based on a true story, and co-starred along side Kurt Russell in "Executive Decision." In "Bulworth", Berry received praise for her role as an intelligent woman raised by activists who gives politician Warren Beatty a new lease on life, and as the singer Zola Taylor, one of the three wives of pop singer Frankie Lymon, in the biopic "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" both in 1998.

In the 1999 film "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," Berry portrayed the first black woman to be nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award. In this HBO biopic, Berry's performance was recognized with several awards, including an Emmy and a Golden Globe. (She was also one of the producers of the project.)

Berry portrayed the 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 Stand" (2006). In 2001, Berry appeared in the movie "Swordfish", which featured her first on-screen nude scene.

Later in 2001, Berry appeared as Leticia Musgrove, the wife of an executed murderer, in the film "Monster's Ball". Her performance was awarded the National Board of Review and the Screen Actors Guild prizes. The role earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress, and she made history by becoming the first African-American woman to receive a Best Actress Academy Award.

As Bond Girl Jinx in the (2002) blockbuster "Die Another Day", she famously re-created the scene from "Dr. No", bursting from the surf to be greeted by James Bond, as Ursula Andress had 40 years earlier. In late 2003, Berry starred in the psychological thriller "Gothika" opposite Robert Downey Jr. Her next lead role was in the film "Catwoman", for which she was awarded a 'worst actress' Razzie award in 2005; she accepted the award in person with a sense of humor, averring that 'to be at the top, you must experience the rock bottom'.

Berry next appeared in the Oprah Winfrey-produced ABC telepic "Their Eyes Were Watching God" (2005), an adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston's novel, in which Berry portrayed Janie Crawford, an iconoclastic, free-spirited woman whose unconventional mores regarding relationships upset her 1920s contemporaries in her small community. Meanwhile, she voiced the character of Cappy, one of the many mechanical beings in the animated feature "Robots" (2005). She has starred in the thriller "Perfect Stranger" with Bruce Willis and wrapped shooting on "Things We Lost in the Fire" with Benicio del Toro. She is set to star in "Class Act", based on the real life story of a teacher whose students helped her run for political office, and 'Tulia', which will reunite her with "Monster's Ball" costar Billy Bob Thornton.

Berry is making the transition to working on the production side of 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 face of Versace. She is featured in "Maxim magazine's Girls of Maxim gallery.

Berry is one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood, commanding $14 million each for "Gothika" and "Catwoman". In July 2007, she topped "In Touch" magazine's list of the world's most fabulous 40-something celebrities.

Personal life

Berry has been married twice. Her first marriage, in 1992 to pro baseball player David Justice, ended in divorce in 1996. Justice played with the Atlanta Braves and experienced a measure of fame as the team rose to prominence in the early 1990s. The couple found it difficult to maintain their relationship while he was playing baseball and she was filming elsewhere. Berry has stated publicly that she was so disappointed after her breakup with Justice that she considered taking her own life.

Her second marriage, in 2001 to musician Eric Benét, resulted in a 2004 separation and 2005 divorce. In 2004 after the separation, Berry stated, 'I want love, and I will find it, hopefully'. While married to Benét, Berry made plans to adopt Eric's daughter, India. However, the process was never finalized.

As of November 2005, she was dating French-Canadian supermodel Gabriel Aubry, who is ten 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 revealed on "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'. (Aubry, who lived in five foster families between the ages of 3 and 18, is presumably open to being an adoptive parent as well.) 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'.

After initially denying rumors that she was pregnant, Berry confirmed in September 2007 that she was indeed three months pregnant with Aubry's child. She hired security guards after receiving threats from racists to her unborn child.

Racial self-identification

Berry has stated that the manner in which people have reacted to her is often the result of ignorance. Her own self-identification has been influenced by her mother. She is quoted as saying


In February 2000, Berry was involved in a car accident in which the car she was driving struck a vehicle after running a red light and she left the scene before the police arrived. Berry, who had sustained a head injury, 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 service, and was placed on three years' supervised probation by the Los Angeles County Adult Probation Office.

"Tonight Show" gaffe

While taping the Jay Leno show on October 22, 2007, Berry displayed a distorted image of her face, remarking: 'Here's where I look like my Jewish cousin!' During the editing of the program, the comment was obscured by a laugh track. The "NY Post" 'Page Six' article that reported the story included Berry's reaction: 'Berry, 41, who sounded like she was near tears, told Page Six last night: 'I so didn't mean to offend anybody - and after the show I realized it could be seen as offensive, so I asked Jay to take it out, and he did."

Film Awards and nominations

Academy Award

* 2002, Best Actress: "Monster's Ball" (Winner)


* 2003, Best Lead Actress: "Monster's Ball" (Nominated)

BET Award

* 2003, Best Actress: (Winner)

Black Movie Award

* 2006, Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actress: "" (Nominated)

* 2005, Outstanding Television Movie: "Lackawanna Blues" (Winner)

Black Reel Awards

* 2006, Best Actress in a TV Movie/ Mini-Series: "Their Eyes Were Watching God" (Nominated)

* 2004, Best Actress: "Gothika" (Nominated)

* 2003, Best Supporting Actress: "Die Another Day" (Nominated)

* 2002, Best Actress: "Monster's Ball" (Winner)

* 2000, Best Actress in a TV Movie/Mini-Series: "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" (Winner)

Other recognition

In 2003, Berry was named No. 1 in "FHM"s 100 Sexiest Women in the World poll.

In 2004, Berry won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress in "Catwoman.

In 2005, Berry was No.1 on VH1's top "50 Sexiest Bodies" countdown.

Berry was offered Honorary Membership into Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. However, Berry has not yet been initiated into the sorority.

In 2006, Hasty Pudding Theatricals recognized Berry as Woman of The Year.

Berry has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard for her contributions to the film industry, awarded on April 3, 2007.

On October 18, 2003 Halle Berry hosted Saturday Night Live (musical guest: Britney Spears).

Further reading

Banting, Erinn. "Halle Berry", Weigl Publishers, 2005 - ISBN 1590363337

Gogerly, Liz. "Halle Berry", Raintree, 2005 - ISBN 1410910857

Naden, Corinne J. "Halle Berry", Sagebrush Education Resources, 2001 - ISBN 0613861574

O'Brien, Daniel. "Halle Berry", Reynolds & Hearn, 2003 - ISBN 1903111382

Sanello, Frank. "Halle Berry: A Stormy Life", Virgin Books, 2003 - ISBN 1852270926

Schuman, Michael A. "Halle Berry: Beauty Is Not Just Physical", Enslow, 2006 - ISBN 0766024679

External links

(Official website)


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article about Halle Berry.