Halle Berry is grateful to be living at a time when women are standing up and telling their own stories.
“We will write, we will produce, we will direct and if we’re brave enough we’ll star in it all at the same time,” Berry said while accepting the SeeHer trophy at the 2022 Critics Choice Awards on Sunday. The award is given in recognition of those who are working to authentically portray women and girls in advertising and media.
Berry marked her directorial debut this year with Bruised, a sports drama that follows a disgraced MMA fighter, played by the actress, as she battles her inner demons to make a comeback in the octagon.
The role, Berry said in her speech, was not originally written for someone “who 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?'" Berry then adapted the role to suit herself and took on the project as director.
The Academy Award-winning actress said when the film came out, she asked someone what they thought of it. He admitted to feeling uncomfortable “watching a woman get battered and beaten.”
In that moment, Berry knew why she had to tell this story in the first place.
“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.’”
Storytelling, she said, can raise our consciousness and “help us think outside of ourselves and our individual circumstances.”
“I realised 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."
Berry said she used to consider “winning” as being able to play the part of a white man.
“But you know what, wanna know why that didn't work? Because, if you didn't know, I'm not a white man," said Berry, with a laugh. "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.”
"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."