June 2001
Halle Berry : Taking a new direction in her own life and career

by Wilson Morales

Halle Berry : Taking a new direction in her own life and career

Over the last few years the number of black actresses getting mainstream Hollywood roles has been disappointing. With the exception of a few such as Angela Bassett and Alfre Woodward, not many have made great strides in Hollywood. Halle Berry has been around for years, but it is the Dorothy Dandridge film that made Hollywood eyes open up. With the acclaim of that film and her new marriage to singer Eric Benet, Halle is ready to take on life and career with a new direction.

WM: What was your knowledge of computers, the internet? Is it something you dabbled with?

Absolutely. I have my very own website called Hallewood.com so Iím very into whatís going on in the net. I email and surf and shop on the net. Iím not as saavy as my character Ginger is, but Iím trying to stay up with technology.

WM: Why did you agree to go topless and how awkward did it feel?

I did it because I could. So much of my life I was afraid to and I finally feel very adult now. With the success of the Dorothy Dandridge project and the critical acclaim it brought me, I finally felt like I didnít have to prove myself anymore and I wanted to do that first and Iím finally feeling very comfortable with my own sexuality and I think that will show in the kinds of roles I choose from now on. I always didnít feel comfortable with myself and my own sexuality and I do now.

WM: What brought about that confidence in your sexuality?

I think winning the awards made me feel confident within my work. Being happy within my personal life, happy within myself. A lot of hard lessons Iíve learned in the last couple of years made me realize that this is not a dress rehearsal, this is real life, Iím only going around once, and to get over all those fears that I thought were limiting me and sort of holding me down and stifled me from doing so many wonderful projects because scripts would come across my desk and if it had nudity I wouldnít even read it. So now, Iím open to all kinds of things and if it moves me and inspires me, itís no longer ďWell if itís got nudity in it, I donít want to look at itĒ, so itís sort of free and liberating for me.

WM: As a black actress, how important is it to develop your own material, having experienced what you did in Dorothy Dandridge?

Very necessary and Iím continuing to do that because if I sat around and waited for good meaty parts for black women, I could miss my whole career. So itís very important to keep doing that and Iím very mindful of that.

WM: What do you think of Star Magazine trying to make your marriage to Eric as similar to Whitney and Bobby?

I think the lawsuit tells you what I think about it. I think that speaks for itself.

WM: Do you feel Swordfish was at all sexist?

No, I think Ginger is as strong and as intelligent as the men are. She has a secret weapon that they donít have, obviously every woman does. So, I donít think it was sexist at all.

WM: Was your role originally written for color?

No, I think they had in mind a white woman.

WM: How was it working with John Travolta?

He was great. They say the bigger the star, the nicer they are, and itís really true. John was very kind and giving and wonderful to work with.

WM: Whatís next for you?

Iím doing a movie with Billy Bob Thorton called Monsterís Ball and we start shooting next week. I just heard Puff Daddy may be in the film playing my husband.