When Halle Berry became the first woman of color to win a Best Actress Oscar in 2002, she dedicated the award to “every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.” But over a decade and a half later, no other women of color have taken home the statuette for that category.
Looking back on her win, and the lack of progress since, Berry recently told Teen Vogue that what first felt like a major milestone now feels almost meaningless. “It’s troubling to say the least,” she began, adding that the 2015 Oscar race, in which no actors of color were nominated for major awards, “was probably one of my lowest professional moments.”
Despite her powerful acceptance speech, Berry said she now thinks, “Wow, that moment really meant nothing. It meant nothing. I thought it meant something but I think it meant nothing.”
That feeling, she said, left her “profoundly hurt” and “saddened.” But she also admitted “it inspired me to get involved in other ways, which is why I want to start directing, I want to start producing more. I want to start being a part of making more opportunities for people of color.”
Following the controversy surrounding the 2015 Oscars, last year’s race included more nominees of color in major acting categories. Denzel Washington was nominated for Best Actor for Fences, Ruth Negga was nominated for Best Actress for Loving, Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting actor for Moonlight and Viola Davis, Naomie Harris and Octavia Spencer were all nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Fences, Moonlight and Hidden Figures, respectively. Davis ended up winning the award.