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Oscars 2002 Monday, 25 March, 2002, 15:18 GMT
RTS winner applauds black success
Diane Parish in Clocking Off with Will Johnson (L)
Diane Parish in Clocking Off with Will Johnson (L)
News of the first Oscar award for a black actress in 74 years has gone down well with leading British star Diane Parish - who last week won a Royal Television Society award for her work in the TV drama Babyfather.

"I'm over the moon, but more than that I felt a renewed optimism," she told BBC News Online.


It'll give people the confidence to give black actors leading roles, to try to ignore the fact of colour and reward talent

Diane Parish
Parish was sympathetic to Berry's emotional display at the podium: "Some of the presenters were cynical, saying Halle's tears were false.

"But I thought it was wonderful she acknowledged Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge and all these people, and other black women struggling to get parts."

Parish first became known to UK audience in the mid-1980s, with appearances on EastEnders and Lovejoy.

Halle Berry
Halle Berry made a long and emotional speech
Since then she has appeared at the Royal Court Theatre and Riverside Studios as well as in the TV series Holding On and Clocking Off and the 1995 film Alive And Kicking.

She has no truck with the idea that the Oscars awards were a convenient political gesture for the Academy.

"Halle Berry has been plugging away doing excellent work all these years and I thought it was justified, it was 100% genuine.

Significance

"And Denzil Washington is an astonishing actor, he's believable and the film is itself was good. Denzil deserved it," she said.

But if both actors deserved their Oscars for their film roles alone, Parish feels there is no doubting the wide significance of the win.

Parish in Clocking Off
Parish: "It shouldn't be a struggle"
"I believe it will make a change, as Halle Berry said.

"It'll give people the confidence to give black actors leading roles, to try to ignore the fact of colour and reward talent.

"If only there were more opportunity.

"Hopefully now it'll happen, it's brought the issue to the forefront - and hopefully it carries across the ocean, too."

'Silence'

Parish believes that the achievements of Berry and Washington are a sign of the ground that has to be made up by black actors in the UK.

"There's a convenient silence sometimes about black achievement, not only from the white press but from the black media too.

Diane Parish
Parish: A memorable role in London TV Drama Holding On
"I don't think it's overt racism, but people can't always trust us to lead and participate," she said.

But with an RTS award under her arm, does she feel this is finally changing?

"I'm please to have recognized in TV but I would like it to happen in film," said Parish.

"The struggle's still going on but it shouldn't be a struggle, now the Americans have gone all the way.

"We're integrated in this society in every way, and the struggle's getting a bit boring."

 VOTE RESULTS
Did Halle Berry go over the top in her Oscars speech?

Yes
 60.98% 

No
 39.02% 

20240 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

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25 Mar 02 | Oscars 2002
20 Mar 02 | Entertainment
24 Jan 02 | Entertainment
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