Being beautiful has not always been in Halle Berry‘s favor.
The X-Men actress spoke with W for the magazine’s October cover, and opened up about how she once had to beg Hollywood to take her seriously.
“Just because someone looks a certain way doesn’t mean that they are spared adversity,” Berry, 50, said, adding, “Adversity does not discriminate.”
In the beginning of her career, the actress admitted she was reluctant to “play the gorgeous girl.” She explained, “I came from the world of beauty pageants and modeling and right away when people heard that I got discounted as an actor.” She added, “I took on roles early on that really didn’t rely on my physical self at all and that was a good way to sort of get some credibility within my industry.”
For example, Berry said she worked hard to convince Spike Lee she could play a “crack ho” in one of her breakout roles in Jungle Fever. “Spike Lee wanted me to read for the part of his wife and I read that part fine enough, but then I said to Spike, ‘You know I really am eyeing this crack ho role, can you please let me audition for that?’ And he said, ‘No, no I don’t see you as the crack ho.'”
After some more convincing, which involved washing off her makeup during the audition, Lee reconsidered. “And it was an amazing way to start my career, playing a crack ho being directed by Spike Lee,” Berry said. “It was major for me.”
She also had to fight for another major role, her Oscar-winning turn in Monster’s Ball. “[Director] Lee Daniels didn’t want to see me read. He was actually disgusted by the thought. He thought there’s no way and my argument to him was, just because someone looks a certain way doesn’t mean that they are spared adversity. I thought, ‘My looks haven’t spared me one hardship or one hurt moment or one painful situation. So please, you know, give me a shot at this.'”
Ultimately, Berry told Daniels, “I often think it’s more interesting when you see someone that looks a certain way struggle in ways that you wouldn’t think they would be struggling with.” The argument worked and Berry got the role. “That sort of changed the course of my career in so many ways,” she adds.