Halle Marie Berry MP

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Location: California, United States
Birthdate: (47)
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Occupation: Actress
Managed by: mi² Anderson, (c) ♥
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Halle Marie Berry

Halle Berry is an American actress, former fashion model, and beauty queen. Berry received an Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG, and an NAACP Image award for Introducing Dorothy Dandridge and won an Academy Award for Best Actress and was also nominated for a BAFTA Award 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.

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 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 attended a nearly all-white public school, and as a result was subjected to discrimination at an early age. Her early bouts with racism greatly influenced her desire to excel. Throughout high school, the determined teen participated in a dizzying array of extracurricular activities, holding positions of newspaper editor, class president, and head cheerleader.

A natural performer, Berry earned a handful of beauty pageant titles during the early 1980s, including Miss Teen Ohio and Miss Teen America. She was eventually awarded first runner-up in the 1985 Miss U.S.A. competition. For a short time she attended Cleveland 's Cuyahoga Community College, where she studied broadcast journalism. However, Berry abandoned her idea of a career in news reporting before receiving her degree. Choosing to wholeheartedly devote her time to a career in entertainment, Berry first moved to Chicago and then New York City, where she found work as a catalog model.

Berry won her first professional acting gig on the TV series Living Dolls, and then appeared on Knots Landing before winning her first big-screen role in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever. It was on the set of the film that she first earned her reputation for her full commitment to acting, reportedly refusing to bathe for weeks in preparation for her portrayal of a crack addict.

Following her film debut, Berry was cast opposite Eddie Murphy in Boomerang (1992) as the comedian's love interest; not only did she hold her own against Murphy, but the same year she did acclaimed work in the title role of the Alex Haley miniseries Queen, playing a young woman struggling against the brutal conditions of slavery.

After a comedic turn as sultry secretary Sharon Stone in the 1994 live-action version of The Flintstones, Berry returned to more serious fare with her role in the adoption drama Losing Isaiah (1995). Starring opposite Jessica Lange as a former crack addict battling to win custody of her child, who as a baby was adopted by an affluent white couple, Berry earned a mixed reception from critics, some of whom noted that her scenes with Lange highlighted Berry's own shortcomings.

However, critical opinion of the actress' work was overwhelmingly favorable in 1998, when she starred as a street smart young woman who comes to the aid of a bumbling politician in Warren Beatty's Bullworth. The following year, Berry won even greater acclaim -- and an Emmy and Golden Globe -- for her turn as tragic screen siren Dorothy Dandridge in the made-for-cable Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. Unfortunately, any acclaim Berry enjoyed was overshadowed by her widely publicized brush with the law in February of 2000, when she allegedly ran a red light, slammed into another car, and then left the scene of the accident. The actress, who suffered a gash to her forehead (the driver of the other car sustained a broken wrist), was booked in a misdemeanor court in early April of that year.

Fortunately for Berry, her subsequent onscreen work removed the spotlight from her legal troubles; that same year, she starred as Storm in Bryan Singer's hugely successful adaptation of The X-Men. Working alongside a cast that included Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, and Anna Paquin, Berry was hailed for her work as the first African-American comic book heroine on the screen. Acclaim was not quite as forthcoming for her work opposite John Travolta in Dominic Sena's cheesy thriller Swordfish, which touted itself as the first movie to feature Berry baring her breasts. Unfortunately, it didn't allow for equal exploitation of the talents that Berry possessed above her collarbone.

Berry again bared more than her character's inner turmoil in Monster's Ball (2001), a romantic drama directed by Marc Forster that starred the actress as a woman who becomes involved with a racist ex-prison-guard (Billy Bob Thornton) who oversaw the prison execution of her husband (Sean Combs). Berry earned wide critical praise for her work in the film, as well as Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Actress. And though she may have lost out to Sissy Spacek in the Golden Globes, her night at the Oscars found Berry the favored performer as took home a statue for Best Actress. A momentous footnote in Academy Award history, Berry's win marked the first time an African American had been bestowed that particular honor.

Although her turn in the James Bond flick Die Another Day was so successful that talk began of a spin-off film, Berry's first true post-Oscar vehicle Gothika proved to be unpopular with both critics and moviegoers. Luckily, 2003 wasn't a total loss for her though as X2: X-Men United was a box-office smash and was regarded by many to be superior to its predecessor. Sticking with comic-books as source-material, Berry could be seen in Catwoman the following Summer. The film was the biggest flop of her career, panned by audiences and critics, and earning the actress a coveted Razzie for her terrible performance. She won back a great deal of respect, however, by starring in the made for TV adaptation of the Zora Neale Hurston novel Their Eyes Were Watching God the next year. She followed this moving performance with a return to her X-Men comrades for X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006, then signed on to star alongside a decidedly creepy Bruce Willis in the suspense thriller Perfect Stranger (2007), directed by James Foley. In that film, she portrayed a hard-nosed reporter prone to catching and indicting sleazebags, who becomes unduly implicated with a pathological corporate big wig responsible for murdering his wife (Willis). The film netted mostly negative reviews (one prominent critic branded it as yet another ill-advised choice for Berry), but such comments seemed myopic and ham-handed in retrospect; whatever the strengths and weaknesses of the film per se, the Stranger part in fact represented one of three extremely ambitious assignments in a powerhouse year for Berry that demanded the utmost of the actress's dramatic abilities: the others included the uplifting psychological drama Things We Lost in the Fire (2007) - as an emotionally shattered housewife, reeling from the tragic violent death of her husband, who finds unlikely solace in a friendship with a recovering heroin addict (Benicio del Toro); and Class Act (2007), as a real-life middle school teacher who runs for Congress at the behest of her students and captures a whopping 35 of the popular vote.