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April 2002
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"This moment is so much bigger than me."

Halle Berry

Born: Cleveland, Ohio on August 14, 1968 (Leo). Raised in Oakland Village near Bedford, Ohio.
Family: Father: Jerome Berry (African American), divorced, left the family when Halle was four; Mother: Judith Ann Hawkins (Caucasian), a registered nurse; Sister: Heidi (2 years older).
Spouse: Singer Eric Benet; Former husband, David Justice of the Atlanta Braves (1993-1996).
Education: Bedford High School; briefly at Cleveland's Cuyahoga Community College for broadcast journalism but left to pursue modeling and study acting.
Hobbies: rollerblading, collectin African art and porcelain dolls, working out with a trainer, seeing movies, shopping at Maxfield’s (Melrose)
Nickname: Hannah Little
Height: 5' 7"

Awards Include:
>2002 Academy Award: *Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Monsters Ball
>2002 SAG Award: *Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, Monster's Ball
>2002 AFI Film Award: Nominated, AFI Actor of the Year - Female – Movies, Monster's Ball
>2002 Golden Globe Award: Nominated, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, Monster's Ball
>2002 Image Award: *Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, Swordfish
>2000 Golden Globe Award: *Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge
>2000 SAG Award: *Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge
>2000 Image Award: *Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge
>2000 Image Award: *Entertainer of the Year
>1999 Image Award: *Outstanding Actres in a Motion Picture, Bulworth
>1996 Image Award: *Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, Losing Isaiah

Film Credits Include:
>2002 Die Another Day
>2002 Monster's Ball
>2001 Swordfish
>2000 X-Men
>1999 Introducing Dorothy Dandridge
>1999 Ringside
>1998 Bulworth
>1998 Why Do Fools Fall in Love
>1997 B.A.P.S.
>1996 Rich Man's Wife, The
>1996 Girl 6
>1996 Race the Sun
>1996 Executive Decision
>1995 Losing Isaiah
>1994 Flintstones, The
>1993 Program, The
>1993 CB4
>1993 Father Hood
>1992 Boomerang
>1991 Strictly Business
>1991 Last Boy Scout, The
>1991 Jungle Fever

If success is defined by tenacity and the ability to overcome obstacles, then Halle Berry defines the word. But while some achieve success at the expense of grace and charm, this actress remains a class act.

Take, for example, her widely publicized recent traffic accident. She could have handled it in a number of ways to avoid responsibility and deflect the press, but this is not Halle Berry style. She was straightforward about her court conviction and had this to say:

"The silver lining in this experience for me is the lessons I have learned. When adverse situations hit our lives, we often feel weak and powerless. The accident has shown me that I can face the most frightening challenges with strength and dignity." Words we could all take a lesson from.

Born August 14, 1968, in Cleveland, Ohio, Halle (named after the Halle Bothers Department Store) was four when her father left the family the first time. He returned when she was eight, but amid accusations of alcoholism and abuse, he left again,

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Halle Berry (cont.)

this time for good. Halle has avoided contact with him to this day. Some kids just fold up and turn inward over such emotional turbulence, but not Halle. Her decision was to find strength in the experience despite the pain. Halle and her older sister, Heidi were raised by their mother, Judith.

To this day Halle says her mom is one of the most inspirational and most admired people in her life. It was partially through her mother’s rearing that Halle learned how to take what life throws at you and make the best of it.

In high school she became the target of mixed-race taunts but again, she refused to cave in and eventually overcame the abuse, succeeding as a cheerleader, an honor society member, fashion editor of the school paper, homecoming queen, and even being elected as class president. Now that’s a statement on overcoming adversity!

But life is a relentless mix of hardships and Halle’s tenacity and determination were to be challenged over and over. Anyone not experienced in the behind the scene pressures of a major beauty pageant may not fully appreciate how difficult and emotionally draining they can be. Most candidates never make it through the entire process without losing control at some point.

Under these tensions, competitors discover a lot about themselves. Many competitors lose their self confidence, but Halle discovered she could use the experience to build character, not destroy it. Her attitude made all the difference. She went on to win the Miss Teen All-American Beauty Pageant and then competed in the Miss USA and Miss World contests.

She began a course of study in Broadcast Journalism, but left without a degree to pursue modeling and study acting. Given the odds against making it in either industry, it was a risky decision. But she made her mind up and approached her chosen future with that "Halle tenacity" honed since childhood.

While modeling (successfully) in Chicago, she auditioned for Aaron Spelling’s ill-fated "Charlies Angels ’88." The show never went anywhere but Spelling encouraged her abilities and it prompted her move to Manhattan where she won a role in the short-lived TV series "Living Dolls." Even though the show was cancelled, it whetted her appetite and when Spike Lee chose her to play opposite Samuel L. Jackson in "Jungle Fever," she jumped at the chance and so totally immersed herself in the role, there was near tearful frustration on the part of other cast members.

You see, to play the part of a drug addicted junkie, Halle interviewed real street addicts and then proceeded not to bathe for 10 days! She took the role VERY seriously but her total commitment to getting the part exactly right made fellow actors more than a little uncomfortable when doing close ups with her.

Film work was and always will be unpredictable for an actor, so to make sure the rent got paid, Halle landed a regular paycheck in the TV series "Knot’s Landing."

Her next film, "Strictly Business," finally showcased some of her real talent, and offers for more fulfilling movie roles began arriving in her mail. Of these she elected to work in "The Last Boy Scout." The film was a dud, but her acting was singled out as well above par by the critics.

The following year, she was cast as Eddie Murphy's love interest in "Boomerang," and many say her performance was better than that of the film's star.

But there were more challenges than just working and paying the rent. On a personal level, she shared a brief but troubled affair during this time with old "Jungle Fever" co-star Wesley Snipes. Even worse, her next attempt at love resulted in the loss of 80 percent of the hearing in her left ear. Her soon to be ex-boyfriend struck her in the head during an argument and punctured her eardrum. Halle finally found what she hoped was true love in Atlanta Braves outfielder David Justice.

She proposed to him and he accepted, but the marriage ended in a publicity fiasco three years later. Again, Halle could have thrown in the towel and ran home, but she didn’t. She weathered the press coverage with dignity and calm and committed herself to her work and to charity.

Her charity work even took her into war-torn Sarajevo to support our troops while the fighting still raged. She also made a serious commitment of time and energy to the National

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Halle Berry (cont.)

Breast Cancer Coalition. Then, out of the blue and to her total amazement, the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race relations presented her with their prestigious award for humanitarian efforts Halle could not control her emotions when receiving the award and accepted it graciously with pride and genuinely thankful tears.

Charity seldom pays the rent, however, so Halle kept the paychecks coming in by winning roles in the TV movies "Queen" and "Solomon and Sheba" and almost simultaneously taking on such diverse movie roles as the heart wrenching "Losing Isaiah" and the light-hearted stone age production of the "Flintstones." Despite her shattering personal upheavals, she was still committed to her career and charitable goals.

She made a few movies that didn’t pan out at the box office or with the critics, and there was some talk of "the model turned actress" stereotype, but instead of giving up and making movies, any movies, just for the paycheck, she kept looking for a role that would finally let the film community know she was more than just a stereotype.

In 1998, she received critical success when she starred as a street smart young woman who takes up with a struggling politician in Warren Beatty's "Bulworth."

She may have made a mistake passing up the Sandra Bullock role in "Speed" as well as one of the lead roles in "Waiting To Exhale," but she kept looking. Her performance in "Bulworth" helped her cause, as did Oprah Winfrey’s miniseries "The Wedding." But it was ultimately her combined portrayal and tenacious work as executive producer on the HBO movie "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" that finally won the critics over to her side. Her performance didn’t just capture a Golden Globe award, it won her the respect of the entire Hollywood community.

At the top of her game, though, tragedy struck again. While filming "Living Dolls," Halle collapsed into a diabetic coma. Her inner strength came through again, however, and she recovered from the incident, but the diagnosis of diabetes is now something she must deal with every day.

She could have given up so many times in her life, and no one would have blamed her, but that isn’t Halle Berry style. This hard working beauty now participates actively with the Juvenile Diabetes Association and professionally she was commanding at least $2.5 million per film, however that figure is expected to jump now that she is a Best Actress Oscar winner. And in addition to an active movie making schedule, she has even returned to modeling, part time, for Revlon.

Most recently, she received mild box office success in "Swordfish" but her portrayal as Storm, a mutant who has the ability to control the weather in "X-Men," was a box office smash hit that has her reprising her role for the next "X-Men" movie in a planned trio of films.

But the greatest personal success in her professional career was to yet to come. In 2001, the controversial film "Monster's Ball" was released by New Line Cinema. Her performance of serious desperation was so stunning that film critics were running out of words to support their accolades.

It all came together on Oscar night when Academy members voted her the Best Actress Oscar. Her genuine, tearful reaction was both heartfelt and beloved by everyone in the audience as well as millions of viewers worldwide. If you missed it, she said:

"This moment is so much bigger than me," she said. "This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It's for the women who stand behind me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox And it's for every nameless, faceless woman of color who now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened," she said. "I am so honored, I'm so honored, and I thank the Academy for choosing me to be the vessel from which this blessing might flow." She later added, "One night doesn't take away something as monstrous as racism but every black woman should be hopeful because it can happen."

In the end, Halle Berry’s inner grace and no quit spirit has allowed her to approach life and her career and their many challenges with "strength and dignity."

There’s a message in that for all of us.