Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
Monster's Ball, Die Another Day, X-Men Series
August 14, 1966
Currently Known For:
Monster's Ball, Die Another Day, X-Men Series
August 14, 1966
“Let me tell you something—being thought of as a beautiful woman has spared me nothing in life, no heartache, no trouble. Love has been difficult. Beauty is essentially meaningless and it is always transitory.” Praised as one of the sexiest women in the world, Halle Berry is a beautiful, vibrant, and talented actress who launched her acting career in the late 1980s. Throughout the 1990s, she made many notable appearances in films like Boomerang (1992), The Flintstones (1994), The Rich Man’s Wife (1996), and Bulworth (1998) before stunning critics with her performance in the 1999 television film, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, which earned her a Golden Globe Award and a Primetime Emmy Award for Best Actress.
Berry’s beginner’s luck continued to improve in the new millennium when she joined the superhero craze as Storm in X-Men (2000). Two years later, she enjoyed another huge break in her career when she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the romantic drama, Monster’s Ball. Becoming the only African American woman to win the Best Actress Oscar, Berry has since proven she’s unstoppable with credits in Swordfish (2001), Die Another Day (2002), X2 (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), Cloud Atlas (2012), The Call (2013), and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). With these credits and many more to her name, let’s take a look at Berry’s rise to fame and how she became one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood.
The daughter of an English psychiatric nurse and an African American hospital attendant, Maria Halle Berry came into this world on August 14, 1966, in Cleveland, Ohio, the home of the iconic Halle’s Department Store and the inspiration for her name. When Berry was four years old, her parents divorced and she and her older sister, Heidi, were raised exclusively by their mother. “I haven’t heard from my father since he left. Maybe he’s not alive,” Berry later said after admitting her father was physically and verbally abusive to her mother.
After her father left, Berry’s life at home improved but her experience at Cleveland’s inner-city schools became more and more violent until her mother moved the family to a safer neighborhood—the suburb of Oakwood. “She was so horrified by what she saw at the school, the violence, and all of a sudden it hit her… so she moved us out of that neighborhood,” Berry recalled, “and while we got taken out of imminent danger, we also got taken out of what was normal for us, and now all of a sudden, we were in an all-white school with all-white kids, like 3 out of 2,500 students.”
While the move ensured their safety, it didn’t protect Berry and her sister from the bullies of Bedford High School. “Because my mother was white and my father was black… we got called Oreos and names, and kids just didn’t understand, so we were different,” Berry said of her experience. “We were the brunt of a lot of jokes. So, I think my need to please and my desire to achieve was because I was constantly trying to prove that I was as good as the other white students. I felt very ‘less than’ and I thought, ‘If I can beat them at everything, then I can be as good as them.’”
That need to excel followed Berry throughout her four years at Bedford High School where she was a cheerleader, editor of the school newspaper, class president, mascot, and prom queen. After graduating with honors, she briefly studied at Cuyahoga Community College and took on a part-time job at the local department store before entering the first of many beauty pageants. She won the 1986 Miss Teen All American title and the 1986 Miss Ohio USA title in addition to becoming the first African American woman to finish as runner-up in the 1986 Miss USA pageant. By then, Berry knew she was destined for the spotlight and set her sights on becoming a professional actress.
Despite having very little money to her name, Berry moved to New York City in 1989 and blew through her savings rather quickly thanks to the higher cost of living. After a few weeks, she was completely broke and slept in a homeless shelter and at the YMCA before her situation finally improved later in the year when she was cast in the short-lived ABC series, Living Dolls, a spinoff of the hit series Who’s The Boss? During the filming of the show, Berry fell into a coma and was later diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a health scare that ultimately saved her life as she learned proper nutrition and how to regulate her blood sugar. She then finished the series after 12 episodes and moved out to Los Angeles where she snagged a recurring role on the long-running series, Knots Landing.
Determined to try her hand on the silver screen, Berry made her film debut in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever in 1991 and followed up with a co-starring role in Strictly Business. She joined Eddie Murphy in Boomerang in 1992 and turned heads for her jaw-dropping performance as a biracial slave in the television film, Queen: The Story of an American Family. After seducing Fred Flintstone in The Flintstones movie in 1994, Berry was determined to show her more serious side and did exactly that in Losing Isaiah (1995), Race the Sun (1996), and Executive Decision (1996).
Berry added in a few more credits with Bulworth (1998) and Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1998) before she skyrocketed to stardom in 1999 for her performance in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge on HBO. Berry introduced and co-produced the film, which made her performance all the sweeter as she took home several awards including a Primetime Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. She was also the first African American woman nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress.
By the new millennium, Berry was a bankable Hollywood star and joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Storm in X-Men (2000). She later reprised her role in X2 (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). Amid her time with the Marvel Universe, her fame skyrocketed even higher when she starred in Swordfish and appeared topless in a sunbathing scene! Shattering Hollywood’s infamous glass ceiling, she gave a jaw-dropping performance as the troubled wife of an executed murderer in Monster’s Ball (2001). The performance earned her a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress as well as an Academy Award for Best Actress making her the first African American woman to win the honor.
With her Academy Award win, Berry soon became one of the highest paid actresses in the industry as she joined the James Bond franchise as Jinx in the 2002 blockbuster Die Another Day. A year later, she starred opposite Robert Downey, Jr. in Gothika and was named FHM’s “100 Sexiest Women in the World.” Berry experienced a huge setback in 2004 when she starred in Catwoman, which critics regard as one of the worst films ever made. Earning a Worst Actress Razzie Award for her performance, she was one of the few actors to actually attend the ceremony and give an acceptance speech. “I never in my life thought that I would be here, winning a Razzie,” she said. “It’s not like I ever aspired to be here but thank you. When I was a kid, my mother told me that if you could not be a good loser, then there’s no way you could be a good winner.”
Despite the Catwoman flop, Berry pushed forward and starred in Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005), which earned her a second Primetime Emmy Award. Before winning a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, she joined Bruce Willis in the 2007 thriller Perfect Stranger and Benicio del Toro in Things We Lost in the Fire. By the 2010s, Berry settled into her success and gave numerous award-winning performances in Frankie and Alice (2010), New Year’s Eve (2011), Dark Tide (2012), and The Call (2013), which was a sleeper hit and grossed over $68.6 million around the globe. Most recently, she starred in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), Kidnap (2017), Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017), and Kings (2017). In 2019, she will join the John Wick franchise was Sofia in John Wick 3: Parabellum.Life Outside the Spotlight: Marriages, Motherhood, and More
“I’m not done with love, but I refuse to settle. I am a hopeless romantic. And I won’t stop till I get it right.” As Berry’s popularity soared in Hollywood, her romantic relationships followed suit as she dated baseball star David Justice in 1992 and married him on January 1, 1993. After a three-year marriage, Berry and Justice separated with their divorce finalized in June 1997. Months later, she met singer-songwriter Eric Benét. After a two-year courtship, the pair married on January 24, 2001, but the romance was short-lived as they separated in 2003 and divorced in 2005. Amid their separation, Benét was treated for sex addiction.
On the heels of her second divorce, Berry thought she found lasting love a third time when she met French Canadian model Gabriel Aubry at a Versace photoshoot in 2005. Things seemed to be going exceptionally well for the couple especially after they welcomed their daughter, Nahla, into the world in March 2008. “Having a baby takes so much from you. It’s the most glorious thing you’ll ever do, but the aftermath is not so glorious,” Berry said shortly after giving birth. “So, now I’m having to exercise, eat a little differently, take a lot more vitamins.”
Berry settled into motherhood quickly but her life at home with Aubry spiraled downward as the couple announced their separation in late April 2010. Shortly after, the two ignited a highly publicized custody battle as Berry pushed for Aubry to allow her and their daughter to move to France to be closer to her newest boyfriend, French actor Olivier Martinez, whom she met on the set of Dark Tide. Since Aubry shared joint custody, he objected to the move and the court followed suit and denied Berry’s request to move to France. Weeks later, Martinez and Aubry were both treated at a local hospital after Martinez performed a citizen’s arrest citing a domestic violence incident, punching Aubry in the face and inciting a brawl. The altercation earned Berry full temporary custody as Aubry filed a restraining order against Martinez, who threatened to kill him if he didn’t allow the couple to move to France. By November 2014, Berry and Aubry finally reached an agreement with the court ordering Berry to pay Aubry $16,000 a month in child support and over $300,000 to cover his attorney fees.
Following her second divorce and custody battle, Berry announced her engagement to Martinez in March 2012, walked down the aisle in July 2013, and gave birth to her son in October 2013. Two years later, Berry announced their separation and impending divorce, which was finalized in December 2016. “I felt like a huge failure and a huge disappointment,” Berry later admitted after her third divorce. “As women, we go into marriage thinking it’s going to last forever and that this is our prince on a shiny horse. That’s what fairytales taught me as a kid… and I’m kind of anti-fairytales today… I’ve often felt guilty and responsible. I’ve suffered a lot of pain and anguish.”
Although her third divorce came as quite the blow, the 52-year-old Berry refuses to let another heartache dampen her spirit. “In every one of those situations as hard—and sometimes embarrassing—as it was, I learned so much about myself,” she said. “Those relationships provided me with lessons that got me to where I am right now. For that, I’m grateful. But it has been hard. It’s been a difficult part of my life.” For now, Berry is focused on rebuilding, which is a life lesson she wants her children to see as she moves forward in her life and career. “I say lots of things, but I think what’s more important is that my children watch what I do,” she says. “I’m more mindful of how I live my life and what they see me do.” That’s why, at the end of the day, she’s content with where life has taken her. “I like where I have arrived. I assume my successes and my failures have been a part of my wonderful journey and I wouldn’t change a thing.”