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Halle Berry

Halle Maria Berry (born August 14, 1966) is an Academy Award-, Emmy Award- and Golden Globe-winning American actress, former fashion model, and beauty queen. Berry has received Emmy and Golden Globe awards for Introducing Dorothy Dandridge and an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2002 for her performance in Monster's Ball, becoming the first and still only woman of African-American descent to have won the award for Best Actress. She is one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood and also a Revlon spokeswoman. She is attempting to expand into the production side of Hollywood.

Before becoming an actress, Berry entered several beauty contests, finishing runner-up in the Miss USA (1986), and winning the Miss USA World 1986 title. Her breakthrough feature film role was in the 1991 Jungle Fever. This led to roles in The Flintstones (1994), Bulworth (1998), X-Men (2000) and its sequels, and Die Another Day (2002). She also won a worst actress Razzie award in 2005 for Catwoman and accepted the award in person.

Divorced from baseball player David Justice and musician Eric Benét, Berry has been dating French-Canadian model Gabriel Aubry since November 2005. Their first child, a girl named Nahla Ariela Aubry, was born on March 16, 2008.

Early life

Berry was born Maria Halle Berry, though her name was legally changed to Halle Maria Berry in 1971. Berry's parents selected her middle name from Halle's Department Store, which was then a local landmark in her birthplace of Cleveland, Ohio. Her mother, Judith Ann (née Hawkins), is a Caucasian psychiatric nurse. Her father, Jerome Jesse Berry, was an African-American hospital attendant in the same psychiatric ward where her mother worked and later became a bus driver. 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 four years old, subsequently she was raised by her mother. Berry has said in published reports that she has been estranged from her father since her childhood.

Berry graduated from Bedford High School, afterwards working in the children's department at Higbee's Department store. She then studied at Cuyahoga Community College. In the 1980s, she entered several beauty contests, winning Miss Teen All-American in 1985 and Miss Ohio USA in 1986. Other pagaents included 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). She was the first African-American Miss World entrant. 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.

Acting career

In the late 1980s, Berry went to Illinois 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 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?). She went on to have a recurring role on the long running serial Knots Landing. In 1992, Berry was cast as the love interest in the video for R. Kelly's seminal single, "Honey Love".

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 adaptation of Queen: The Story of an American Family, based on the book by Alex Haley. Berry was in the live-action Flintstones movie as "Sharon Stone", the sultry secretary who seduced Fred Flintstone.

Playing a former drug addict struggling to regain custody of her son in Losing Isaiah (1995), Berry tackled a more serious role, starring opposite co-star Jessica Lange. She portrayed Sandra Beecher in Race the Sun (1996), which was based on a true story, and co-starred alongside Kurt Russell in Executive Decision. From 1996 onwards, she was a Revlon spokeswoman for seven years and renewed her contract in 2004.

In 1998, Berry received praise for her role in Bulworth as an intelligent woman raised by activists who gives a politician (Warren Beatty) a new lease on life. The same year, she played the singer Zola Taylor, one of the three wives of pop singer Frankie Lymon, in the biopic Why Do Fools Fall in Love. In the 1999 HBO biopic Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, she portrayed the first black woman to be nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award. Berry's performance was recognized with several awards, including an Emmy and a Golden Globe.

Berry portrayed the mutant superhero Storm in the film adaptation of the comic book series X-Men (2000) and its sequels, X2: X-Men United (2003) and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). In 2001, Berry appeared in the film Swordfish, which featured her first on-screen nude scene. At first, she refused to be filmed topless in a sunbathing scene, but she changed her mind when Warner Brothers raised her fee substantially. The brief flash of her breasts added $500,000 to her fee. After turning down numerous roles that required nudity, she said she decided to make Swordfish because her husband Benet supported her and encouraged her to take risks.

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, and earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Berry made history by becoming the first African-American woman to receive a Best Actress Academy Award. the NAACP issued the statement "Congratulations to Halle Berry and Denzel Washington for giving us hope and making us proud. If this is a sign that Hollywood is finally ready to give opportunity and judge performance based on skill and not on skin color then it is a good thing. Her role also generated controversy. Berry's graphic, nude love scene with a racist character played by co-star Billy Bob Thornton, was the subject of much media chatter and discussion among African-Americans. Many in the African-American community were critical of Berry for taking the part. Berry responded: "I don't really see a reason to ever go that far again. That was a unique movie. That scene was special and pivotal and needed to be there, and it would be a really special script that would require something like that again.

Berry asked for a higher fee for Revlon advertisements after winning Academy Award, and Ron Perleman, the cosmetics firms chief congratulated her, saying how happy he was that she modelled for his company. She replied: "Of course, you'll have to pay me more." Perleman stalked off with rage. Her win at the Academy Awards led to two famous "Oscar moments." In accepting her award, she gave an acceptance speech honoring previous black actresses who had never had the opportunity. she said "This moment is so much bigger than me. This is for every nameless, faceless woman of colour who now has a chance tonight because this door has been opened. One year later, as she presented the Best Actor award, winner Adrien Brody ran on stage and, instead of giving her the standard peck on the cheek, planted a long kiss on Berry.

International success

As Bond girl Jinx in the 2002 blockbuster Die Another Day, Berry famously recreated a scene from Dr. No, bursting from the surf to be greeted by James Bond, as Ursula Andress had 40 years earlier. Lindy Hemming insisted that she wear a bikini and knife as a homage. Berry has said of the scene: "It's splashy", "exciting", "sexy", "provocative" and "it will keep me still out there after winning an Oscar. Berry said her role is "fashion-forward modern and the next step in the evolution of women in the Bond movies. The bikini scene was shot in Cadiz, the location was reportedly cold and windy, and footage has been released of Berry wrapped in thick towels in between takes to avoid catching a chill. According to a ITV news poll, Jinx was voted the fourth toughest girl on screen of all time. Berry was hurt during filming when debris from a smoke grenade flew into her eye. It was removed in a 30-minute operation.

Rewrites were commissioned to give Berry more screentime for X2. This was because of her earning the Academy Award. Berry stated during interviews for X2 that she would not return as Storm unless the character had a significant presence comparable to the comic-book version.

In late 2003, she starred in the psychological thriller Gothika opposite Robert Downey Jr., in which she broke her arm. Downey was supposed to grab her arm and twist but twisted too hard. Production was halted for eight weeks. It was a moderate hit at the United States box office, taking in $60 million; it earned another $80 million abroad. Berry also appears in the Limp Bizkit music video for "Behind Blue Eyes" for the motion picture soundtrack for the movie Gothika. The same year, she was named #1 in FHM's 100 Sexiest Women in the World poll. In 2004 Berry was voted fourth of Empire magazine's 100 sexiest film stars of all time poll.

Berry received $12.5 million for the title role in the film Catwoman, a $100 million movie, it grossed $17 million on its first weekend. She was awarded a "worst actress" Razzie award in 2005. She appeared at the ceremony to accept the award in person (making her the third person, and second actor, to ever do so) with a sense of humor, considering it an experience of the "rock bottom" in order to be "at the top". Holding the Academy Award in one hand and the Razzie in the other she said, "I never in my life thought that I would be here, winning a Razzie. It's not like I ever aspired to be here, but thank you. 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". The Fund for Animals praised Berry's compassion towards cats and for squelching rumors that she was keeping a Bengal tiger from the sets of Catwoman as a "pet.

Berry next appeared in the Oprah Winfrey-produced ABC TV movie Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005), an adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston's novel, in which Berry portrayed Janie Crawford, a free-spirited woman whose unconventional sexual mores 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).

In 2006, Berry, Pierce Brosnan, Cindy Crawford Jane Seymour, Dick Van Dyke and Tea Leoni, and Daryl Hannah successfully fought the Cabrillo Port Liquefied Natural Gas facility that was proposed off the coast of Malibu. Berry said "I care about the air we breathe, I care about the marine life and the ecosystem of the ocean. in May 2007, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the facility. Hasty Pudding Theatricals gave her its 2006 Woman of The Year award.

She starred in the thriller Perfect Stranger with Bruce Willis and wrapped shooting on Things We Lost in the Fire with Benicio del Toro. Dean Winkelspecht said "she isn´t as impressive as she was in Monster´s Ball. 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 also served as 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, earning $10 million per film. In July 2007, she topped In Touch magazine's list of the world's most fabulous 40-something celebrities. On April 3, 2007, she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of the Kodak Theatre at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard for her contributions to the film industry.

Coty Inc. fragrance company, signed Berry to market her debut fragrance on March 14, 2008. Berry was delighted. For years I have created my own personal scent by mixing fragrances at home. I am passionate about this project as I have always wanted hands-on experience in creating a fragrance that is a true representation of me. She was paid $3-5 million with a royalty of about 5%.

Personal life

In the late 80's Berry dated former New Kids on the Block member Danny Wood. Berry has been married twice; her first marriage in 1992 to former 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, but she could not bear the thought of her mother finding her body.

Berry's second marriage was to musician Eric Benét. They met in 1997 and married in early 2001 on a beach in Santa Barbara. Berry credited Benét with support after she was involved in a February 2000 car accident. She suffered a concussion and left the scene of the accident before the police arrived, resulting in a misdemeanor charge. Berry stated she felt "really good about the resolution"; she pled no contest, paid a fine and was placed on three years' probation.

The couple, however, separated in 2003. After the separation, Berry stated, "I want love, and I will find it, hopefully". While married to Benét, Berry adopted his daughter, India. The divorce was finalized in January 2005. She was not entertaining thoughts of suicide as she had after splitting with Justice: "I would never, ever, ever think of doing that again.

In November 2005, Berry began dating French-Canadian supermodel Gabriel Aubry, 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 told 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". 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". Berry insists the couple's life is already complete without the need for a marriage and feels "more married than ever before.

Berry said that it was her experience playing a mother in "Things We Lost In The Fire" that opened her mind to the possibility of motherhood. After initially denying rumors, she confirmed in September 2007 that she was three months pregnant. Berry hired security guards after receiving racist threats to her unborn baby from a stalker saying her child will be "cut into hundreds of pieces. She stated "Gabriel is a wonderful person and I am just happy I've found someone really special to have a baby with. She has stated that she hopes to have a second child right away.

At age 41, Berry gave birth to a girl named Nahla Ariela Aubry on March 16, 2008 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Nahla means "honeybee" in Arabic; Ariela is Hebrew for "lion for God". Berry spent $60,000 furnishing three nurseries for her baby.

In the media

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

After having many talks with my mother about the issue, she reinforced what she had always taught me. She said that even though you are half black and half white, you will be discriminated against in this country as a black person. People will not know when they see you that you have a white mother unless you wear a sign on your forehead. And, even if they did, so many people believe that you have an ounce of black blood in you then you are black. So, therefore, I decided to let folks categorize me however they needed to.

While taping the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on October 19, 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 New York 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: '"What happened was I was backstage before the show and I have three girls who are Jewish who work for me. We were going through pictures to see which ones looked silly, and one of my Jewish friends said [of the big-nose picture], 'That could be your Jewish cousin!' And I guess it was fresh in my mind, and it just came out of my mouth. But I didn't mean to offend anybody. I didn't. I didn't mean any harm. - and after the show I realized it could be seen as offensive, so I asked Jay to take it out, and he did.'

Berry and Ted Kennedy are taking part in a nearly 2000-house party cell-phone bank campaign for Barack Obama. said that she will "collect paper cups off the ground to make his pathway clear.

In October 2008, Berry was named Esquire Magazine's "Sexiest Woman Alive" to which she stated "I don't know exactly what it means, but being 42 and having just had a baby, I think I'll take it.

Filmography

Year Film Role Notes and Awards
1989 Living Dolls Emily Franklin TV (cancelled after 13 episodes)
1991 Knots Landing Debbie Porter TV (cast member in 1991)
Jungle Fever Vivian
Strictly Business Natalie
The Last Boy Scout Cory
1992 Boomerang Angela Lewis
1993 Queen: The Story of an American Family Queen TV (miniseries) Berry won the Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Television Movie or Mini-Series
CB4 Herself Cameo
Father Hood Kathleen Mercer
The Program Autumn Haley
1994 The Flintstones Sharon Stone
1995 Solomon & Sheba Nikhaule/Queen Sheba on TV
Losing Isaiah Khaila Richards
1996 Executive Decision Jean
Race the Sun Miss Sandra Beecher
Girl 6 Cameo
The Rich Man's Wife Josie Potenza
1997 B*A*P*S Nisi
1998 The Wedding Shelby Coles on TV
Bulworth Nina
Why Do Fools Fall in Love Zola Taylor
Introducing Dorothy Dandridge Dorothy Dandridge TV. won the Emmy, Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award (She was also executive producer)
2000 X-Men Ororo Munroe/Storm
Welcome to Hollywood Documentary
2001 Swordfish Ginger Knowles
Monster's Ball Leticia Musgrove won Best Actress Academy Award
2002 Die Another Day Giacinta 'Jinx' Johnson
2003 X2: X-Men United Ororo Munroe/Storm
Gothika Miranda Grey
2004 Catwoman Patience Phillips / Catwoman won the Razzie and was nominated for the Kids' Choice Awards, USA - Blimp Award as Favorite movie Actress
2005 Their Eyes Were Watching God Janie Starks
Robots Cappy (Voice)
2006 X-Men: The Last Stand Ororo Munroe/Storm
2007 Perfect Stranger Rowena Price
Things We Lost in the Fire Audrey Burke
2008 Tulia Vanita Gupta Upcoming
Class Act Tierney Cahill Upcoming
Who is Doris Payne? Doris Payne Upcoming
Nappily Ever After Venus Johnson Upcoming
2009 Frankie and Alice Frankie/Alice Upcoming

Awards

Year Award Category Film Result
1995 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a TV Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Queen
2000 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress - Miniseries or Movie Introducing Dorothy Dandridge
Golden Globe Award Best Actress - Miniseries or TV Movie
Screen Actors Guild Awards Best Actress - Miniseries or TV Movie
Black Reel Awards Best Actress in a TV Movie/Mini-Series
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a TV Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
2001 Academy Award Best Actress Monster's Ball
Screen Actors Guild Awards Best Actress - Motion Picture
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Lead Actress
NBR Best Actress
2002 Black Reel Awards Best Actress
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress Swordfish
BET Awards Best Actress
2003 BET Awards Best Actress
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actress Die Another Day
2004 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Actress Catwoman
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress Gothika
BET Awards Best Actress
2005 BET Awards Best Actress
2006 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actress - TV series Their Eyes Were Watching God

References

CitationsPublications

  • 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

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