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Halle Berry Biography (1966–)

Halle Berry became the first African-American woman to win the Academy Award for best actress following her performance in ‘Monster’s Ball.’ She has also starred in ‘Swordfish,’ ‘Die Another Day,’ ‘Gothika’ and the ‘X-Men’ film franchise.

Who Is Halle Berry?

Born in 1966 in Cleveland, Ohio, Halle Berry is acclaimed actress and former beauty queen. For her performance in Monster’s Ball in 2001, she became the first African-American woman to win an Academy Award for best actress. She has also enjoyed prominent roles in Jungle Fever (1991), X-Men (2000) and its sequels, Swordfish (2001), Die Another Day (2002), Gothika (2003), Cloud Atlas (2012) and Kidnap (2017).

Early Life

Halle Maria Berry was born on August 14, 1966, in Cleveland, Ohio, the youngest daughter born to Jerome and Judith Berry, an interracial couple. Halle and her older sister, Heidi, spent the first few years of their childhood living in an inner-city neighborhood.

In the early 1970s, Jerome Berry abandoned his wife and children, after which Judith moved her family to the predominantly white Cleveland suburb of Bedford.

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.

Beauty Queen to Model

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 to New York City, where she found work as a catalog model.

Halle Berry Movies and TV Shows

Early Roles: ‘Living Dolls,’ ‘Knots Landing,’ ‘Jungle Fever’

As the 1980s turned into the ’90s, the aspiring actress began a career in television with a role on the short-lived sitcom Living Dolls (1989), followed by a year-long run on the CBS prime-time drama Knots Landing, in 1991.

Berry’s first big-screen break came later that year when she was cast as Samuel L. Jackson‘s drug-addicted girlfriend in Spike Lee‘s critically acclaimed film Jungle Fever.

‘The Last Boy Scout,’ ‘Boomerang,’ ‘The Flintstones’

More substantial supporting roles followed, including that of a stripper in the action-thriller The Last Boy Scout (1991), starring Bruce Willis, and as the woman who finally wins the heart of Eddie Murphy in the romantic comedy Boomerang (1992).

With a few films under her belt, Berry accepted more offbeat roles, making cameos in the rockumentary CB4 (1993), which traced the rise and fall of a rap group by the same name. In 1994, the live-action version of The Flintstones featured Berry as a Stone-Age seductress.

Berry offered a no-holds-barred performance as a rehabilitated crack addict seeking to regain custody of her son in Losing Isaiah (1995). Berry, who played opposite Jessica Lange and David Strathairn, was noted for her believable portrayal of a mother struggling with addiction and loss.

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