#TIFF20: IN CONVERSATION WITH…. HALLE BERRY
By Mr. Will Wong
As per of TIFF‘s SHARE HER JOURNEY initiative promoting emerging females in Film, the public got to enjoy a free virtual event, In Conversation with…. Halle Berry tonight, hosted by CBC‘s Amanda Parris.
Having been in the industry for over 30 years, Berry‘s career has been nothing short of legendary. In addition to winning an Oscar for her work in 2001’s Monster’s Ball, her extraordinary catalog has seen her star in the X-Men Franchise, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Jungle Fever, Boomerang and several more impactful films of our time. She has seen an incredible longevity and tonight she reflected on her path to success.
Berry makes her directorial debut at TIFF ’20 with BRUISED, which premieres at the Festival. The MMA Sports-Drama sees her starring as disgraced fighter Jackie “Justice” who must face an up-and-coming rival in the ring and also confront the son she abandoned several years prior. The Film just sold in a huge deal for $20 million to Netflix.
Berry on getting into acting:
“I was looking for an outlet to explore what I had to say that modelling couldn’t. Originally, I thought I’d be a reporter and travel around the world reporting the news. In acting, I let the universe set forth what I should be doing. It happened with my directorial debut and when I started acting.”.
On being more than her shell and playing a drug addict in Spike Lee‘s Jungle Fever, her breakthrough role:
“I grew-up in an environment where I knew I didn’t always fit in. I knew I was full of substance and had tons of stories to tell. I knew I was always more than my shell. I felt from Jungle Fever on, I could be seen as more than a pretty face model-turned-actor.”.
On her Oscar-winning role in Monster’s Ball:
“I always go for the dark horse character in the race and I’m always drawn to that. This speaks to my own brokenness. I get to have a cathartic experience and share parts of myself I don’t always present so forwardly. I know where exactly the pain of this character lives innately.”.
On whether she watches her performances again:
“I watch them only once to prepare for Press and once at the Premiere. I never go back and watch them. That is the hardest thing to do. In my directorial debut, I had to watch myself over and over and over and that was one of the hardest aspects.”
On how she feels about the thought that Monster’s Ball propagates the idea of a ‘White Saviour‘:
“I stand behind everything I ever said. It was an important story to tell and a character I related to. I never looked at Billy Bob as the ‘White Saviour‘, but instead, two characters who needed love. I’ve never thought of the Film as being about ‘black and white’.”.
On winning an Oscar:
“I’ve never embraced any character thinking this is going to get me an award. Once you get an award, there is nothing to ensure you’ll get another award. The unfair expectation is once you do win an award, you will continue to win like you had control over that the first time. I’ve tried to stay hungry as an Actor and take risks… I can’t say it got any easier after I won that award.”.
On the changing landscape for coloured women in Entertainment:
“I do see things have changed. 20 years ago, we were in a different situation than we are today. Look at our landscape. I think our best movies are on TV. and it’s full of colour. I’m really proud to be part of the evolution. It’s starting to feel better.”.
On her directorial debut, BRUISED, which she had to re-imagine instead with a middle-aged black woman. The role originally was written for an Irish-American white woman.
“I wanna see someone rise above obstacle. That’s what most people relate to. We’re all struggling to survive and show-up for ourselves and our families.”.
“I was charged with finding someone to bring this story to life. After speaking to the Producers, I realized through the prodding of a close friend of mine I could direct this after thinking ‘Nobody understands what’s in my head!'”. “I pitched myself as the Director and I was off to the races.”.
Our Review of BRUISED will be posted later next week, be sure to check back.
(Photo credit: TIFF)