Critics Choice Awards Honoree Halle Berry Pledges to “Tell Stories That Don’t Fit Preconceived Notions”
The actress spoke about the importance of storytelling while accepting the SeeHer Award.
Halle Berry spoke about the importance of storytelling to highlight “individual circumstances” when she accepted the SeeHer Award during the 2022 Critics Choice Awards on Sunday.
After thanking the Critics Choice Awards and SeeHer for the honor, Berry shared the story of the first time she read the script for her directorial debut, Bruised. “I realized that it wasn’t written for someone that looked like me,” she began.
Berry said she asked the producers why she couldn’t star in the film as a Black woman, though they quickly agreed to cast her in the leading role. She recalled, “Later on they told me, ‘Now go find a director.’ And then finally I summoned the courage to say, ‘Why not me?’ They said, ‘Why not?’
“When the film came out, I got the courage to ask someone what he thought of the movie and he said, ‘I have a hard time watching a woman get battered and beaten. It made me feel uncomfortable.’ And in that moment I knew exactly why I had to tell this story,” she said. “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.’”
She went on to discuss the power of storytelling, which can “raise our consciousness and help us think outside of ourselves and our individual circumstance.”
“I realized we truly need to see each other’s reality, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us, so that we might stop judging and stop pointing fingers, but rather find compassion and empathy for the others,” Berry said.
The actress went on to say she used to think that being cast in “a part of a white man” was “winning,” though now knows the concept doesn’t work. “For those roles to work, they would have to be substantially changed. They would have to be written with the reality of my journey in all of its beauty and all of its pain.”
Berry added she’s “so grateful to be standing and living in this moment where women are standing up and we are telling our own stories.” She continued, “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.”
“We will use our emotional intelligence and we will tell stories that don’t fit preconceived notions. No, we will tell stories that see us fully in all our multitudes and contradictions because we are confident and we are scared,” Berry said. “We are vulnerable and we are strong. We are beautiful and we are abused. We are everything and all of that and all at the same time.
“If we deny our complexity, if we deny our humanity, we won’t always be pretty and we will never be perfect, but what we will be is always honest and true,” she said. “No matter how uncomfortable that makes you.”
“These are the stories we have to fight to tell and these are the stories that the world needs to see,” Berry added.
The actress concluded the message by addressing young girls who feel unseen and unheard. She said, “We love you and we see you and you deserve every good thing in this world.”
Earlier in the speech, Berry thanked Issa Rae, who presented her with the award, for her work in Hollywood. “You have inspired me since the moment you showed up. You have rearranged the way we see ourselves as women of color on television and in the world,” Berry told Rae. “I thank you from my heart and thank you for being here for me.”
SeeHer is the leading global movement that works to have accurate portrayals of women and girls in media. Founded by the Association of National Advertisers and the Female Quotient, SeeHer is a global collective of marketers, media organizations and industry influencers committed to creating gender-bias-free advertising and media. Berry is the sixth person to be honored with the award, while past recipients include Zendaya, Gal Gadot and Viola Davis.
The 2022 Critics Choice Awards were hosted by Taye Diggs and Nicole Byer. The Los Angeles portion of the awards ceremony was held at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel, while stars also gathered in London at the Savoy Hotel.
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