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Berry, Halle

Halle Berry

1966–

Actress

Halle Berry has become a beacon of success to women around the world. Her personal beauty and grace catapulted her into the limelight, but her persistence, strength, and ambition propelled her to success and high achievement. In 2002 she became the first African American woman to win an Oscar Award for Best Actress. While she focused her professional choices on opening doors for other African Americans, Berry inspired women of all races with her willingness to fight personal battles. Besides racial prejudice, Berry battled such difficulties as abusive relationships, thoughts of suicide, missteps with the law, and an ongoing struggle with diabetes. From each battle Berry emerged victorious, showing the world her commitment to living life according to her own terms.

Embraced her Black Heritage

Born to a white mother and black father, Berry grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents had a tumultuous relationship and separated when she was four years old. Berry struggled with the difficult feelings of being witness to her father's abuse of her mother and older sister. Raising her daughters alone, Berry's mother, Judith, a registered nurse, did her best to care for her children's needs. She sent Berry to a psychotherapist to help her deal with her feelings. Berry described how helpful her sessions were to Redbook: "To learn at such an early age that there is a calm and effective way to process emotions was a lesson I've never forgotten. I've continued therapy, and though it hasn't kept me from making major mistakes, it has provided me with a means to look at myself with healthy objectivity, and that keeps me grounded."

Throughout her childhood, Berry recalled, she was so shy her mother had to coax her to leave home to go downtown. Being the offspring of a biracial couple, Berry had her initial encounter with prejudice as a youngster, when her family moved from an inner-city neighborhood to suburban Cleveland. "People would call me 'zebra' and leave Oreo cookies in our mailbox," she recounted to Elle. When she questioned her mother about these incidents, Berry related in Ebony, her mother explained, "I'm white, and you are black…. What do you see when you look in the mirror? You see what everyone else sees. They don't know that you're biracial. They don't know who your mother is, and they aren't going to care." With her mother's support, Berry embraced being black but did not embrace the idea that being black would limit her opportunities. As Berry told Redbook, "I became an over-achiever."

From the time she was in grade school, Berry wanted to be an actress. She related to Laurie Werner in USA Weekend, "I would imitate scenes from The Wizard of Oz. I even had the right dog." A cheerleader, Berry also became prom queen and class president during her high school years. When she was 17 years old, Berry was surprised to learn one of her high school boyfriends had entered her name in the Miss Teen Ohio beauty pageant. Winning the title, she then entered a succession of other pageants, including Miss World, in which she won the dress competition. Berry was also named first runner-up in the Miss USA competition after her selection as Miss Ohio in 1985.

In 1986 Berry enrolled at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland to study broadcast journalism. When she took an internship at a local radio station, Berry discovered she disliked reporting. She left college before completing her degree to pursue modeling and study acting in Chicago. Her mother encouraged the career transition, Berry divulged to Lawrence Chua in Elle magazine: "When I left home to start acting, [my mother's attitude was, 'Keep your chin up, go do it; but if you fail, home is always here.'"

Broke into Acting

While in Chicago, Berry auditioned for a role in producer Aaron Spelling's television pilot Charlie's Angels '88. Although the show did not materialize, Spelling was impressed with Berry's screen test. He encouraged her not to give up acting. Two big breaks in the young actress's career came with a three-week USO tour with Bob Hope and a starring role as a teenage fashion model in the 1989 television series Living Dolls. Berry remarked in Ebony, "Here I was an ex-model, a former beauty queen and when Living Dolls was canceled, I was playing a model. People weren't taking me seriously."

Hoping audiences would view her differently, Berry prepared for her next role as a crack addict named Vivien in Spike Lee's 1991 film Jungle Fever by interviewing several crack addicts and going ten days without a bath. Although her role brought her acclaim, Berry took a recurring part in the television series Knots Landing for financial purposes in 1991. "I'm a real miser," the actress told Werner. "I want a cushion," she added.

After Berry's 1991 appearance as a femme fatale in the motion picture Strictly Business, Peter Biskind wrote in Premiere, "Berry may still be playing somebody's girlfriend, but clearly her star is ascending." The actress almost lost the leading role of Natalie in the comedy. She recalled to Chua, "I found out that they hired me, thought I was too light-skinned, hired someone darker, realized that was a mistake, and then hired me again. And I understood that I had gone through all of this agony for two weeks just because of my skin color."

Although critics were divided in their reviews of the film, Berry's portrayal marked a turning point in her career. Her appearance in leading roles was assured with her selection as Damon Wayans' exotic dancer girlfriend in the movie The Last Boy Scout. Vincent Canby of the New York Times wrote, "The best thing in the film is Halle Berry. She is an actress who is going places." Berry researched her role in the movie by paying the owner of a Hollywood strip joint to let her dance. After the film's success, Berry commented to Biskind, "I don't want to rise to superstardom overnight, like Julia Roberts. There's no place to go but down."

At a Glance …

Born on August 14, 1966, in Cleveland, OH; daughter of Jerome (hospital attendant) and Judith (registered nurse) Berry; married David Justice (professional baseball player), 1993 (divorced 1997); married Eric Benet (musician), 2001 (divorced 2004); children: (adopted) India. Education: Attended Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland, OH, 1985.

Career: Model, late 1980s–; actress and producer, 1989–.

Awards: Miss Teen Ohio and Miss Ohio, 1985; first runner-up, Miss USA Pageant, 1986; winner of dress competition, Miss World Pageant, 1986; Golden Globe Award, 1999; NAACP Image Award, 2000, 2002, 2003; Emmy Award, 2000; Oscar Award, 2002.

Addresses: Agent—William Morris Agency, One William Morris Place, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Web—www.hallewood.com.

"Though she is an imposing beauty … Berry's radiant looks belie the strengths that have made her a young actress worth watching," wrote Chua in 1992, after the release of the comedy Boomerang. Judy Gerstel of the Detroit Free Press lauded Berry in the film as "versatile," noting that her role as Angela was "played to doe-eyed perfection." The year Boomerang was released, Ebony profiled the young actress as an image breaker: "A down-to-earth, drop-dead gorgeous woman, Berry exudes confidence, having already shattered the Hollywood adage that models can't act."

As her film career picked up steam, Berry's personal life became the fodder for the press. Berry's difficult relationships turned into media stories. The public learned of her court battle with an ex-boyfriend over financial issues, how another ex-boyfriend hit her so hard that she lost 80 percent of the hearing in one ear, and followed the highs and lows of her first and second marriages, including her thoughts of suicide after the break-up of her first. Moreover, Berry's struggle with diabetes also came to light. Throughout each tragedy, Berry displayed her characteristic strength, dealing with the challenges, learning from her mistakes, and moving on.

Blazed Her Own Trail

Despite her personal difficulties, Berry remained focused in her professional life. She was keenly aware that she had to blaze her own trail. To that end, Berry continually sought diverse roles. She went from a hip-hop dancer in Strictly Business to a college co-ed in The Program to playing a recovering drug addict fighting for her son in Losing Isaiah—for which she won rave reviews. She also played historical characters, portraying Alex Haley's paternal grandmother in Queen, a television miniseries. And in 1995 Berry became the first African American to portray the role of the Ethiopian ruler Sheba in Solomon and Sheba, a made for cable television movie.

Her career building roles took her from television to film and back again, jumps that were unusual among the most successful actors in the industry. About her hopping back and forth between television and film roles—something that she was advised not to do—Berry explained in Ebony: "Listen, the same rules that apply to Julia Roberts don't apply to me. Black actresses don't have the same choices as white actresses." And Berry made the most of the choices she had, being cast in roles not typically played by blacks and winning critical acclaim and acknowledgment for her acting talents.

By 1998 Berry was producing and starring in the story of Dorothy Dandridge, the person who Berry "fell in love with" as a child and who had inspired Berry to become an actress for the way "she jumped off the screen," as Berry related to Newsweek. Dandridge's life had many parallels to Berry's own: she possessed great beauty, suffered difficult personal relationships, and experienced the injustice of racial prejudice. Director of Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, Martha Coolidge told Redbook that Berry is "a dead ringer" for Dandridge and that in her role, Berry "captured her spirit, her talent, and her sensitivity."

Berry found inspiration from playing Dandridge and she even gained a better understanding of her goals in the movie industry. Learning from Dandridge's self-destructive reaction to the prejudice and pressure of the movie industry in the 1950s, Berry resolved to fight for her career. "Getting the Dorothy Dandridge story made was a significant point in my development. It was an opportunity to play a woman who had so many obstacles in her life-obstacles I could relate to as a black actress who has to struggle in Hollywood…. The project was a major turning point for me and my career. It helped me grow as an actress and strengthened my resolve to take chances and explore new roles and new avenues," as Berry noted in Essence. She added in Redbook that from Dandridge's story she learned that "it is my responsibility to force them [Hollywood] to know what to do with me, because I think that's what ultimately killed her." For her portrayal of Dandridge, Berry won a Golden Globe Award and an NAACP Image Award in 1999 and an Emmy Award the following year.

As one of Hollywood's best-known black actresses, Berry continued to seek new, challenging roles and even returned to modeling when she signed with Revlon Cosmetics. Her relentless pursuit of interesting roles paid off. Her portrayal of Leticia Musgrove in Monster's Ball catapulted her to the highest accolade ever earned by a black actress. In the 2001 film, Berry played a down-on-her-luck waitress dealing with an imprisoned husband and her abusive tendencies toward her overweight son. Variety reported that critic Peter Travers called Berry "volcanic" and that Roger Ebert noted that Berry's performance cause him to think "about (Berry's character) as deeply and urgently as about any movie character I can remember." For her part in Monster's Ball, Berry won the Oscar Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Berry deeply understood the importance of the award. Upon accepting the award she said: "This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll … It's for the women who stand beside me: Jada Pinkett Smith, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox … and it's for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened," as her speech was quoted in Redbook. Berry went on to use what she told Variety was the "power of Oscar" to open doors for herself. "Minds are still a bit closed towards having black actors play opposite certain kinds of actors or certain parts in movies, so I've decided to take that power and try to make some of my own opportunities." Since her historic win, Berry played such different characters as a Bond girl in Die Another Day, a superhero in the X-Men films, a psychiatrist in Gothika, and the lead in the made-for-television movie of Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. Doing so proved Brian Levant, her director in the 1994 filming of The Flintstones, to be correct in his assertion to Good Housekeeping that "the range she's capable of is phenomenal … But that's Halle: the entire package."

Selected works

Films

Jungle Fever, 1991.
The Last Boy Scout, 1991.
Strictly Business, 1991.
Boomerang, 1992.
The Program, 1994.
The Flintstones, 1994.
Losing Isaiah, 1995.
The Rich Man's Wife, 1996.
B.A.P.S., 1997.
Bulworth, 1998.
Why Do Fools Fall In Love?, 1998.
X-Men, 2000.
Monster's Ball, 2001.
Swordfish, 2001.
Die Another Day, 2002.
Gothika, 2003.
X2, 2003.
Catwoman, 2004.
X-Men: The Last Stand, 2006.

Television

Living Dolls, ABC, 1989.
Knot's Landing, 1991.
Queen: The Story of an American Family, 1993.
Solomon and Sheba, 1995.
The Wedding, 1998.
Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, 1999.
Their Eyes Were Watching God, 2005.

Sources

Periodicals

Detroit Free Press, July 1, 1992.

Ebony, February 1992; October 1992; December 1994; March 1997; November 2002, p. 186.

Elle, April 1992; October 2003, pp. 258-267.

Essence, October 1996; May 2002, p. 154; March 2005, p. 132.

Good Housekeeping, August 2002, p. 98.

Heart and Soul, April 2002, p. 56.

Jet, November 11, 1991; September 2, 1996; March 7, 2005, pp. 52-5.

Newsweek, August 30, 1999, p. 48.

New York Times, March 12, 1995, p. 15.

People, November 25, 1991; December 23, 1991; July 20, 1992; May 11, 1998.

Premiere, December 1991.

Redbook, March 2003, p. 130.

Upscale, June/July 1992; October/November 1992.

USA Weekend, November 8-10, 1991.

Variety, August 15, 2005, pp. 62-85.

On-line

The Official Site of Halle Berry, www.hallewood.com (July 21, 2006).

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"Berry, Halle." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Berry, Halle." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved October 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/berry-halle

Berry, Halle 1968–

Halle Berry 1968

Actress, model

Entered Beauty Contest

Became A Success

Married, Then Divorced

Sought-After Actress and Model

Selected works

Sources

I dont want to be just a sex goddess, film and television actress Halle Berry divulged to Lawrence Chua in Elle, but then I dont want to play just crackheads either. Notable whether playing ingenues or junkies, she has performed roles in films as diverse as Boomerang, which starred Eddie Murphy, and filmmaker Spike Lees controversial Jungle Fever. A former model and first runner-up in the Miss USA pageant, Berry, who also appeared on television as Debbie Porter on Knots Landing, postulates that planning helped her leap to leading lady status in the film industry. The actress told Chua, Preparation, luck and opportunity seemed to come together at the same time.

Born to a white mother and black father, Berry grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents separated when she was four years old. Halle and her sister Heidi were raised by their mother, Judith, a registered nurse. Throughout her childhood, Berry recalled, she was so shy her mother had to coax her to leave home to go downtown. Being the offspring of a biracial couple, Berry had her initial encounter with prejudice as a youngster, when her family moved from an inner-city neighborhood to suburban Cleveland. People would call me zebra and leave Oreo cookies in our mailbox, she recounted to Chua. When she questioned her mother about these incidents, Berry related in Ebony, her mother explained, Im white, and you are Black. What do you see when you look in the mirror? You see what everyone else sees. They dont know that youre biracial. They dont know who your mother is, and they arent going to care.

Entered Beauty Contest

From the time she was in grade school, Berry wanted to be an actress. She related to Laurie Werner in USA Weekend, I would imitate scenes from The Wizard of Oz. I even had the right dog. A cheerleader, Berry also became prom queen and class president during her high school years. When she was 17 years old, Berry was surprised to learn one of her high school boyfriends had entered her name in the Miss Teen Ohio beauty pageant. Winning the title, she then entered a succession of other pageants, including Miss World, in which she won the dress competition. Berry was also named first runner-up in the Miss USA competition after her selection

At a Glance

Born August 14, 1968; daughter of Judith (a registered nurse) Berry; married David Justice (a professional baseball player), 1993, divorced, 1997, Education: Attended Cuyahoga Community Coll., Cleveland.

Career: Actress and model; appeared on Bob Hopes USO Tour; television appearances include Living Dolls, ABC, Knots Landing, CBS, and Queen, Solomon and Sheba, made for cable television movie, Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding, 1998; motion picture appearances include Jungle Fever, Strictly Business, and The Last Boy Scout, all 1991, and Boomerang, 1992, Father Hood, 1993, The Progam, The Flintstones in 1994, Losing Isaiah, 1995, Executive Decision, Rich Mans Wife in 1996, B.A.P.S., 1997, Bulworth, Why Do Fools Fall In Love? 1998; has competed in beauty pageants. Volunteer, Juvenile Diabetes Association.

Selected awards: Named Miss Teen Ohio and Miss Ohio, 1985; first runner-up, Miss USA Pageant, 1985; winner of dress competition, Miss World Pageant, 1986; NAACP Image Award; voted one of the 50 Most Beautiful People by People Magazine.

Addresses: Home Los Angeles, CA. Other Halle Berrys Fan Club, 250 West 57th Street, Suite 2517, New York, NY 10019.

as Miss Ohio in 1985.

In 1986 Berry enrolled at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland to study broadcast journalism. When she took an internship at a local radio station, Berry discovered she disliked reporting. She left college before completing her degree to pursue modeling and study acting in Chicago. Her mother encouraged the career transition, Berry divulged to Chua: When I left home to start acting, [my mothers] attitude was, Keep your chin up, go do it; but if you fail, home is always here.

While in Chicago, Berry auditioned for a role in producer Aaron Spellings television pilot Charlies Angels 88. Although the show did not materialize, Spelling was impressed with Berrys screen test. He encouraged her not to give up acting. Two big breaks in the young actress career came with a three-week USO tour with Bob Hope and a starring role as a teenage fashion model in the short-lived television series Living Dolls. Berry remarked in Ebony, Here I was an ex-model, a former beauty queen and when Living Dolls was canceled, I was playing a model. People werent taking me seriously.

Became A Success

Hoping audiences would view her differently, Berry prepared for her next role as a crack addict named Vivien in Jungle Fever by interviewing several crack addicts and going ten days without a bath. Although her role brought her acclaim, Berry took a recurring part in the television series Knots Landing for financial purposes. Im a real miser, the actress told Werner. I want a cushion, she added.

After Berrys 1991 appearance as a femme fatale in the motion picture Strictly Business, Peter Biskind wrote in Premiere, Berry may still be playing somebodys girlfriend, but clearly her star is ascending. The actress almost lost the leading role of Natalie in the comedy. She recalled to Chua, I found out that they hired me, thought I was too light-skinned, hired someone darker, realized that was a mistake, and then hired me again. And I understood that I had gone through all of this agony for two weeks just because of my skin color.

Although critics were divided in their reviews of the film, Berrys portrayal marked a turning point in her career. Her appearance in leading roles was assured with her selection as Damon Wayans exotic dancer girlfriend in the movie The Last Boy Scout. Vincent Canby of the New York Times wrote, The best thing in the film is Halle Berry. She is an actress who is going places. Berry researched her role in the movie by paying the owner of a Hollywood strip joint to let her dance. After the films success, Berry commented to Biskind, I dont want to rise to superstardom overnight, like Julia Roberts. Theres no place to go but down.

Though she is an imposing beauty Berrys radiant looks belie the strengths that have made her a young actress worth watching, wrote Chua in 1992, after the release of the comedy Boomerang. Judy Gerstel of the Detroit Free Press lauded Berry in the film as versatile, noting that her role as Angela was played to doe-eyed perfection. The year Boomerang was released, Ebony profiled the young actress as an image breaker: A down-to-earth, drop-dead gorgeous woman, Berry exudes confidence, having already shattered the Hollywood adage that models cant act.

Married, Then Divorced

As her film career picked up steam, Berry began a relationship with Atlanta Braves baseball player, David Justice. Their whirlwind courtship began in 1992 and ended when Berry proposed to him, and the couple were married on New Years Day in 1993. She told Ebony in 1994 that Justice was her soulmate, my rock, my prince on a white horse. Compared to the other men Berry had been involved with, Justice was Prince Charming. One of her ex-boyfriends sued her and sold his story to a national tabloid newspaper. Another ex hit her in the ear so hard she lost 80 percent of her hearing in that ear.

The couple were likened to another famous couple, Marilyn Monroe and Joe Dimaggio. And like them, the marriage ended in divorce. Just a couple of months after celebrating their third anniversary, Justice asked for a divorce. It devastated Berry. She told Ebony in 1997: I was numb for probably two months. I was walking around in a daze. I didnt know how to function. I would wake up in the middle of the night and think this is just a bad dream. I kept saying, No, this isnt really real. Davids just on a road trip.

Her friends rallied to support Berryher mother even flew to Los Angeles to be with her. But she still had self-doubts and thoughts of suicide. Berry even made an attempt by getting in her car to inhale toxic fumes, but she recalled to Ebony, somewhere in my heart, I think I knew I didnt really want to end my life. I just wanted to end the pain.

Berry entered therapy and threw herself into her work. Her next film, B.A.P.S., was a comedy directed by Robert Townsend. She described to Ebony how working on this film helped her heal, Its a comedy, and I wasnt feeling very funny, so I wasnt confident that I would be able to be in that space. But it turned out to be therapeutic. I could laugh and be silly and let go of all that negative energy.

Sought-After Actress and Model

Throughout her acting career, Berry has sought roles that were diverse. She went from a hip-hop dancer in Strictly Business to a college co-ed in The Program to playing a recovering drug addict fighting for her son in Losing Isaiah she won raves for this portrayal. She is also known to play characters of the past. She portrayed Alex Haleys paternal grandmother in Queen, a television miniseries. She took a turn as a pre-historic secretary in the live-action film, The Flintstones, and she played Sheba in Solomon and Sheba, a made for cable television movie. This also marked the first time an African American has portrayed Sheba, who was an Ethiopian. In one year alone, Berry portrayed the love interest of Warren Beatty in Bulworth, then a young woman trying to choose between two men while dealing with her past in The Wedding, produced by Oprah Winfrey, and Why Do Fools Fall In Love?, a movie based on singer Frankie Lymons life, where she played Zola Taylor, a member of the singing group The Platters and one of Lymons wives.

In addition to becoming one of Hollywoods best known African American actresses, Berry returned to modeling when she signed with Revlon Cosmetics. She will begin filming The Dorothy Dandridge Story, sometime in 1998. Berry and a handful of other African American actresses are in a race to get Dandridges story told. Unlike Dandridge, who fought racism in Hollywood, only to succumb to the pressure in the end, Berry has risen above her circumstances and proven to herselfand othersthat she is a fighter and will continue to do so.

Selected works

(Films)

Jungle Fever, 1991.

The Last Boy Scout, 1991.

Strictly Business, 1991.

Boomerang, 1992.

The Program, 1994.

The Flintstones, 1994.

Losing Isaiah, 1995.

B.A.P.S., 1997.

Bulworth, 1998.

Why Do Fools Fall In Love?, 1998.

(Television and cable)

Living Dolls, ABC.

Knots Landing, CBS.

Queen, 1994.

Solomon and Sheba.

The Wedding, ABC, 1998.

Sources

Detroit Free Press, July 1, 1992.

Ebony, February 1992; October 1992; December 1994; March 1997.

Elle, April 1992.

Essence, October 1996.

Jet, November 11, 1991.

People, November 25, 1991; December 23, 1991; July 20, 1992; May 11, 1998.

Premiere, December 1991.

Upscale, June/July 1992; October/November 1992.

USA Weekend, November 8-10, 1991.

Other

Information obtained from the Internet at www.cleveland.com and http//:el.eonline.com.

Marjorie Burgess and Ashyia N. Henderson

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"Berry, Halle 1968–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Berry, Halle 1968–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/berry-halle-1968

"Berry, Halle 1968–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved October 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/berry-halle-1968

Berry, Halle 1967(?)–

Halle Berry 1967(?)

Actress and model

At a Glance

Sources

I dont want to be just a sex goddess, film and television actress Halle Berry divulged to Lawrence Chua in Elle, but then I dont want to play just crackheads either. Notable whether playing ingenues or junkies, she has performed roles in films as diverse as Boomerang, which starred Eddie Murphy, and filmmaker Spike Lees controversial Jungle Fever. A former model and first runner-up in the Miss USA pageant, Berry also appeared on television as Debbie Porter on Knots Landing. She feels that planning helped her leap to leading lady status in the film industry. The actress told Chua, Preparation, luck and opportunity seemed to come together at the same time.

Born to a white mother and black father, Berry grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents separated when she was four years old. Halle and her sister Heidi were raised by their mother, Judith, a registered nurse. Throughout her childhood, Berry recalled, she was so shy her mother had to coax her to leave home to go downtown. Being the offspring of a biracial couple, Berry had her initial encounter with prejudice as a youngster, when her family moved from an inner-city neighborhood to suburban Cleveland. People would call me zebra and leave Oreo cookies in our mailbox, she recounted to Chua. When she questioned her mother about these incidents, Berry related in Ebony, her mother explained, Im white, and you are Black.... What do you see when you look in the mirror? You see what everyone else sees. They dont know that youre biracial. They dont know who your mother is, and they arent going to care.

From the time she was in grade school, Berry wanted to be an actress. She related to Laurie Werner in USA Weekend, I would imitate scenes from The Wizard of Oz. I even had the right dog. A cheerleader, Berry also became prom queen and class president during her high school years. When she was 17 years old, Berry was surprised to learn one of her high school boyfriends had entered her name in the Miss Teen Ohio beauty pageant. Winning the title, she then entered a succession of other pageants, including Miss World, in which she won the dress competition. Berry was also named first runner-up in the Miss USA competition after her selection as Miss Ohio in 1985.

In 1986 Berry enrolled at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland to study broadcast journalism. When she took an internship at a local radio station, Berry discovered she

At a Glance

First name rhymes with Sally; born c. 1967; daughter of Judith (a registered nurse) Berry; engaged to David Justice (a professional baseball player). Education: Attended Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland, OH.

Actress and model; appeared on Bob Hopes USO Tour; television appearances include Living Dolls, ABC, Knots Landing, CBS, and Queen (mini-series); motion picture appearances include Jungle Fever, Strictly Business, and The Last Boy Scout, all 1991, and Boomerang, 1992; has competed in beauty pageants. Volunteer, Juvenile Diabetes Association.

Selected awards: Named Miss Teen Ohio and Miss Ohio, 1985; first runner-up, Miss USA Pageant, 1985; winner of dress competition, Miss World Pageant, 1986.

Addresses: Home Los Angeles, CA. Other Halle Berrys Fan Club, 250 West 57th Street, Suite 2517, New York, NY 10019.

disliked reporting. She left college before completing her degree to pursue modeling and study acting in Chicago. Her mother encouraged the career transition. As Berry noted in Elle: When I left home to start acting, [my mothers] attitude was, Keep your chin up, go do it; but if you fail, home is always here.

While in Chicago, Berry auditioned for a role in producer Aaron Spellings television pilot Charlies Angels 88. Although the show did not materialize, Spelling was impressed with Berrys screen test. He encouraged her not to give up acting. Two big breaks in the young actresss career came with a three-week USO tour with Bob Hope and a starring role as a teenage fashion model in the short-lived television series Living Dolls. Berry remarked in Ebony, Here I was an ex-model, a former beauty queen and when Living Dolls was canceled, I was playing a model. People werent taking me seriously.

Hoping audiences would view her differently, Berry prepared for her next role as a crack addict named Vivien in Jungle Fever by interviewing actual addicts and going ten days without a bath. Although her role brought her acclaim, Berry took a recurring part in the television series Knots Landing for financial purposes. Im a real miser, the actress told Werner. I want a cushion.

After Berrys 1991 appearance as a femme fatale in the motion picture Strictly Business, Peter Biskind wrote in Premiere, Berry may still be playing somebodys girlfriend, but clearly her star is ascending. The actress almost lost the leading role of Natalie in the comedy. She recalled to Chua, I found out that they hired me, thought I was too light-skinned, hired someone darker, realized that was a mistake, and then hired me again. And I understood that I had gone through all of this agony for two weeks just because of my skin color.

Although critics were divided in their reviews of the film, Berrys portrayal marked a turning point in her career. Her appearance in leading roles was assured with her selection as Damon Wayanss exotic dancer girlfriend in the movie The Last Boy Scout. Vincent Canby of the New York Times wrote, The best thing in the film is Halle Berry. She is an actress who is going places. Berry researched her role in the movie by paying the owner of a Hollywood strip joint to let her dance. After the films success, Berry commented to Biskind, I dont want to rise to superstar-dom overnight, like Julia Roberts. Theres no place to go but down.

Though she is an imposing beauty... Berrys radiant looks belie the strengths that have made her a young actress worth watching, wrote Chua in 1992, after the release of the comedy Boomerang. Judy Gerstel of the Detroit Free Press lauded Berry in the film as versatile, noting that her role as Angela was played to doe-eyed perfection. The year Boomerang was released, Ebony profiled the young actress as an image breaker. A down-to-earth, drop-dead gorgeous woman, Berry exudes confidence, having already shattered the Hollywood adage that models cant act.

Engaged to Atlanta Braves outfielder David Justice in 1992, Berry went on to land a lead role in a television mini-series called Queen, based on the notes of Alex Haley, and hopes to eventually market her own script, Inside Out. Diagnosed a diabetic as an adult, Berry, who prefers being a homebody, is a volunteer for the Juvenile Diabetes Association. The actress indicated that she will continue to seek roles that avoid stereotypically black issues, announcing in Premiere, Weve exploited ourselves to get into the business. Now its time to get away from racial themes.

Sources

Detroit Free Press, July 1, 1992.

Ebony, February 1992; October 1992.

Elle, April 1992.

Jet, November 11, 1991.

People, November 25, 1991; December 23, 1991; July 20, 1992.

Premiere, December 1991.

Upscale, June/July 1992; October/November 1992.

USA Weekend, November 8-10, 1991.

Marjorie Burgess

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"Berry, Halle 1967(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Berry, Halle 1967(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/berry-halle-1967

"Berry, Halle 1967(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved October 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/berry-halle-1967