Halle Berry is thrilled to still be the only black woman to win Best Actress at the Oscars.
“It didn’t open the door,” Berry, who won the coveted title 20 years ago for her role in “Monster’s Ball,” said in an interview with The New York Times published Thursday.
“The fact that there is no one next to me is heartbreaking.”
At the time, Berry said, she didn’t expect to win. Footage from the moment at the 2002 Oscars shows her in utter disbelief, repeating, “Oh my God, oh my God,” over and over.
Onstage, clutching her golden statue and sobbing openly, she said, “This moment is so much bigger than me.”
She dedicated her victory to Dorothy Dandridge, Diahann Carroll, Angela Bassett and other black women named before her.
“This is for every nameless, faceless woman of color who now has a chance because that door was opened tonight,” she said.
That same night, Denzel Washington became the second black man to win Best Actor. In the two decades since, two other black men, Jamie Foxx and Forest Whitaker, have won Best Actor Oscars, but Berry remains the only black woman to win Best Female Actor.
Eight years passed before another black woman was even nominated in the category, and it’s only happened six times since then.
No black women are nominated for Best Actress this year.
Diversity and representation at the Oscars has begun to improve in recent years following public pressure and outcry. In 2015, activist April Reign created the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite despite none of the 20 acting nominees being a person of color. The same thing happened in 2016.
Last year, a record nine actors of color were nominated for Oscars. The 2022 range has four.
Berry said the absence of another Best Actress win by a woman of color doesn’t take away from the wonderful work done by her contemporaries.
“We can’t always judge success or progress by how many awards we have,” she said. “The awards are the icing on the cake – it’s your peers saying you’ve been exceptionally excellent this year – but does that mean that if we don’t get the exceptionally excellent nod we weren’t not great and we’re not succeeding, and we’re not changing the world with our art, and our opportunities are not growing?”
The 94th Academy Awards will take place on Sunday.