Jury Coordination and Notes

First African American Woman To Win Best Actress By Brianna Hope Beaton

Halle.jpgThis week I would like to discuss a woman that almost all of us will recognize. She is the first African American female to win an Oscar® for best actress.

Halle Marie Berry was born on August 14, 1966 in Cleveland, Ohio, youngest to parents, Jerome Berry (African-American) and Judith Berry (Caucasian).  She has one sister named Heidi and their father abandoned them at a young age.

Halle attended an all-white school and, as a result, she experienced discrimination at a young age. This predicament only made her push harder to excel and succeed at school and everything else she did. In high school she did many extracurricular activities. Halle had no problem with nervousness. She was and still is a natural performer. Halle earned a group of beauty pageant titles during the early 1980s, including Miss Teen Ohio and Miss Teen America. She was, in time, awarded first runner-up in the 1985 Miss U.S.A. competition. While in college she decided to focus solely on a career in the entertainment business. She ultimately ended up in New York City where she became a catalog model and then changed into a hopeful actress. Here are some of the films she has worked on: Living Dolls (TV Series, 1989), Knot’s Landing (TV series, 1991) Jungle Fever (1991), The Last Boy Scout (1991), Boomerang (1992), X-Men (2000), Catwoman (2004), Cloud Atlas (2012) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). Executive Decision (1996) marked Halle’s first leading role in a feature film. She received an Oscar® as “best actress in a leading role” and a Golden Globe nomination for her performance as the wife of a death row prisoner in Monster’s Ball.  That film also landed her the honorable title of becoming the first African-American woman to win the Oscar for best actress which she acknowledged by thanking all the performers who came before her. “This moment is so much bigger than me; this moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll… It’s for the women that stand beside me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox and it’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance, because the door tonight has been opened.”

In 2005 Halle met, French-Canadian supermodel Gabriel Aubry. Sometime after they met, Halle confirmed that she and Aubry were expecting their first child together. The expected daughter, Nahla Ariela, followed the announcement on March 16, 2008. She and Aubry, unfortunately, split in 2010. Later that year, Halle began dating actor Olivier Martinez. In March 2012, the couple got engaged and in April 2013, announced that they were expecting their first child together. On July 13, 2013, Halle and Oliver happily married in a cherished ceremony at France’s Chateau des Conde. That October, the newlyweds greeted their first child together, a baby boy. She’s now caring for her two children and still acting and producing.

Sometimes it’s nice to go back and see who did this and that. But sometimes we need to look at people who are still alive and are doing a great job at their craft. Halle has a reputation of living in her roles and remaining in character even when the cameras stop rolling.  This is a true dedication to your craft.  Not only is Halle Berry a very talented actress but her acting range needs to be commended.  She can act a beautiful actress but she can also get down and dirty when she needs to.

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