Halle Berry Biography
Halle Berry is an 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 2001 for her performance in Monster's Ball, becoming the first and, as of 2009, 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 has also been involved in the production side of several of her films.
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 as Bond Girl Jinx in 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.
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), who is Caucasian, was a psychiatric nurse. Her father, Jerome Jesse Berry, was an African-American hospital attendant in the same psychiatric ward where her mother worked; he later became a bus driver. Berry's maternal grandmother, Nellie Dicken, was born in Sawley, Derbyshire, England, while her maternal grandfather, Earl Ellsworth Hawkins, was born in Ohio. Berry's parents divorced when she was four years old; she was raised exclusively 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.. She was the 1986 Miss USA first runner-up to Christy Fichtner of Texas. 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. She was the first African-American Miss World entrant in 1986, where she finished sixth and Trinidad and Tobago's Giselle Laronde was crowned Miss World.
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.
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.
n 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 the 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.
As Bond girl Giacinta 'Jinx' Johnson in the 2002 blockbuster Die Another Day, Berry 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 an 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." 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.
Because of winning the Academy Award, rewrites were commissioned to give Berry more screentime for X2. 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., during 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 appeared in the Limp Bizkit music video for "Behind Blue Eyes" for the motion picture soundtrack for the film. 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, 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.
Berry is involved in production of films and television. She served as executive producer on Introducing Dorothy Dandridge in 1999, and Lackawanna Blues in 2005. Berry produces as well as stars in the thriller Perfect Stranger with Bruce Willis and Things We Lost in the Fire with Benicio del Toro and Class Act, based on the real life story of a teacher whose students helped her run for political office. She will produce and star in the 2009 film Tulia, which will reunite her with Monster's Ball costar Billy Bob Thornton.
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.
Berry has served many years as the face of Revlon cosmetics and also served as the face of Versace. The Coty Inc. fragrance company signed Berry to market her debut fragrance in March 2008. Berry was delighted, saying that she had created her own fragrances at home by mixing scents. She was paid $3-5 million with a royalty of about 5%.
Berry has been married twice. Her first marriage was to former baseball player David Justice, shortly after midnight on January 1, 1993. The couple separated in 1996 and their divorce was finalized in 1997. 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.
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".
At one point, Berry had indicated that she planned to adopt children, but her experience playing a mother in Things We Lost In The Fire opened her mind to the possibility of motherhood. After initially denying rumors, she confirmed in September 2007 that she was three months pregnant. 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 hired security guards after receiving racist threats to her unborn baby from a stalker saying her child will be "cut into hundreds of pieces."
At one time, Berry indicated that she did not intend to marry again, insisting the couple's life was already complete without the need for a marriage. She has stated that she hopes to have a second child right away. Aubry recently told In Touch Magazine, "I'd like Nahla to have a sibling in 2009."