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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 15:24 GMT
Halle Berry: Your thoughts on her speech?
At the Oscars ceremony, Halle Berry became the first black woman in the history of the Academy Awards to win the best actress prize for her role in Monster's Ball.
Berry, 33, won for her role as a woman overtaken by rage and frustration in the racially charged movie Monster's Ball. It is considered her best performance in a 10-year career.
With tears streaming down her face and gasping for breath, Berry dedicated her award to all the African-American women who had struggled before her to make their way in Hollywood.
"This moment is so much bigger than me. It's for every nameless, faceless woman of colour that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened," she said.
What did you think of her speech? Should she have won the Oscar?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
All speeches aside, the fact still remains that Americans are far more openly expressive, and yes, more sentimental than our stodgy and uptight European counterparts. Don't you think it's about time you Brits get over it? It's a cultural difference. Learn to accept it. We don't want to be like you, ok? Personally, I think it's odd that this would even be a topic of a Talking Point discussion, given that the viewer ratings for these Oscars were the lowest ever.
I'm not sure she won the Best Actress Award at all. Perhaps it should have been the Best Black Actress Category? Why is it about so much more than just the acting?
Stop fawning over this irrelevant tripe and show the Nobel prize speeches instead.
It's only pretend, make-believe - Halle hasn't found a cure for cancer for heaven's sake. Overpaid, over-exposed and fortunately over there.
I found Halle's speech toe-curlingly embarrassing - not to mention clichéd, derivative and boring.
Rahman, Hungary (originally USA)
I was touched by the speech given by Halle for a moment I felt my heart stop it was a speech that came from the heart and I felt so proud of her at that very moment, that was no act that was genuine. I love you Halle and may god bless you.
Why is it suddenly all the rage to refer to black people as "people of colour"? Should we also start referring to dark clouds as "clouds of colour"...or, perhaps more pertinently, to a certain genus of tasty wild fruit as "a Berry of colour"?
Pure Hollywood schmaltz. They'll be making a film about it next year. These are actors, not Afro-American actors. When is the US going to stop the race issue. Poor Robert Redford, not a good year to get picked for an award!
Kaye Davidson, Canada
Sorry ... how can a 'gasping' and 'sobbing' actress be 'inspiring'? Just a query.
The Oscars?? What do they mean? A pay rise, for one. You always get this political crap when a black person wins something, newspapers were printing articles on Martin Luther King...For goodness sake, she only won an award. Now if she'd helped mankind, like found a cure for cancer I would be all for her. Big, big overreaction. Stupid awards.
To all those who say Halle Berry's speech and emotion was rehearsed and contrived, well, she must be a damn good actress to come up with such a performance that night. One way or the other, she amply deserved her statue!
Awful, just bloody awful, to me all Oscars are awful, including the crowd that attends them. Let's have one every 10 years.
She is marvellous and deserves the award. The speech has put me in tears for how hard it is to be one of the 'colour people'
If she acted like that in a movie she wouldn't have one an Oscar in the first place
Where to start? This is acting, not rocket science. No need for hysterics. Secondly, black actress? She's not black, she's whiter than the Pope. Thirdly, struggles of black actresses? What are you talking about? Does anyone realize what kind of money these people make? Look at the widening gap between the halves and halve nots. It's all going to blow up soon. I don't know who is worse, the self-absorbed, narcissistic actors or the mindless, sheep-like, adoring public. This world's a mess. Priorities are upside down...but I digress, after all, it's just a statue.
Paul Charters, England
It's just showbiz. Get a sense of perspective.
The first black woman to vote in South Africa probably didn't carry on like Berry, and ultimately that was a much more emotional and significant moment than a worthless night of Hollywood frippery. I resent the fact that the only role models for blacks are entertainers or hoop-shooting homeboys. Why can't people value doctors, farmers or engineers as much as they do these ditzy parasites of the screen?!
Typical American, over the top and basically meaningless.
Jan Overstreet, USA
This is a success for Halle Berry first and foremost more than anything else. For someone who's "acting ability" has always been regarded as dubious it is no wonder she broke down in tears. I for one have not seen her Oscar winning performance, but have seen her in many other movies in which she stank up the screen. So no small wonder the utter surprise.
Halle's speech was not for us to judge. No one knows what to do at a moment like that. I thought her speech was beautiful and real. It touched me and she made me so proud. She worked for that Oscar and no one can take that away from her. If she was wrong for crying, so were viewers who cried right along with her. I was one of them and I believe - as Halle said - who cares what people think. Congratulations to Halle, we are proud of you!!!!
Why else do you think she got a standing ovation? It was quite obvious that Halle's speech moved a lot of the audience who seemed to cry with her. Reading from a crinkled scrap of paper is embarrassing.
Pathetic, when are we going to stop idolising these people. They are not gods, just a bunch of people who make us laugh or cry, our lives do not depend on them, and anyway, when are we going to stop calling them black actors? They are actors, skin colour should be irrelevant.
I can't tell you if her speech went over the top as I was videoing the coverage (I had work the next day) and the BBC decided to switch channels before it got to the top awards, and then in the highlights her speech had been so heavily edited that it lasted no time at all...
I heard her "crying" speech on the radio and had to turn it off! I turned on a few minutes later and she was still crying - it was awful. I watched some of the ceremony but to be honest the ceremony is OK its the acceptance speeches that are a pain!
Craig, New Zealand
Thoroughly undignified! Too bad she could not have emulated Sidney Poitier, who is such a fine gentleman, as well as being an excellent actor.
My own choice for Best Actress was either Dame Judi Dench or Sissy Spacek. Tom Wilkinson deserved the Best Actor award. O well, I guess by now we all know the Academy Awards frequently are unfair!
Never mind that her speech was embarrassing, never mind that this award was long overdue, what Ms Berry said simply isn't true. Does anyone genuinely believe that an African-American actress is now going to find it easier to find work in movies than she did last week?
While I'm not a big fan of the Oscars, I was actually quite touched by Halle Berry's acceptance speech. Usually, the cynical side of me likes to assume it is all an act, but it was clear that this was genuine. Whether or not she deserved to win, I believe that she was honestly shocked. What surprised me most though was how articulate her speech was despite the sobs and her unashamed joy once she had stopped the crying and collected herself was a pleasant change from the dull arrogance of many other award winners. I think in general there was too much emphasis on the fact that she is black. It smacks of political correctness and the idea that she has "opened the door" for other black actresses was a strange one. You only had to look at who was presented the ceremony to see how successful other black actresses have been. Still, I was impressed with her speech and got the impression hers were tears of shock and humility rather than the Paltrow-esque tears of diva-like indulgence.
Julie Edwards, Nigeria
Having seen all the Oscar-nominated performances, I have to say the right people won. Halle Berry and Denzel Washington gave the best performances of the year by any actor, black or white.
We all shed tears of joy but some of you must be a woman of colour for just one day to understand. Until you walk in our shoes don't try to speak for us.
Did no one else understand? The "hottest chick" won the Oscar yet again. Line up photos of all Oscar winning actresses. Surprise, Surprise! They are all mostly gorgeous. Wouldn't it have been fairer for her to renounce the award and say that it's about time we opened the door for older, fatter, uglier women? Hey! What about giving an Oscar for the greatest acting performance? Nah! Never catch on, will it?
D Keita, USA
Rather than congratulating themselves for such a historic moment, shouldn't the Academy and Hollywood be asking themselves why it took so long for a "woman of colour" to win an Oscar and be ashamed of that.
She gave a speech? Sorry, was too busy ogling one of the most gorgeous actresses ever to notice. Not that I'm shallow!
All the "armchair nominees" who seem to think they would be calm, cool, and collected at such a moment are kidding themselves. Like it or not, this was an historic event, and Berry let herself become completely immersed in it, rather than shield herself from it. I find it astonishing that people could think this was a contrivance just to show off.
Then there's the race issue. Less than forty years of "official" equality in the U.S. does not erase the past. It shows great ignorance to begrudge Berry this powerful moment.
Liz Amber, Sweden
What is everybody complaining about? The Oscars have always been the world heavyweight champion of sycophantic, back-slapping and self congratulatory award ceremonies. Surely we already knew that? Okay, I suppose it is all a bit galling, watching these repellent people congratulate each for lives dedicated to self-interest and the acquisition of fame and fortune, but it's nothing new.
How can any of us pretend to judge whether or not Halle Berry's emotional reaction was authentic. Your laughter might be my smirk, your tears my performance. Let the woman have her moment. She earned it. And the shameful fact is that last night was an historic occasion. Berry was right to point that out.
Halle Berry is deserving of the award, and the tears streaming down her face were not contrived. Perhaps it is difficult for us, as observers, to truly understand her triumph. 74 Academy Awards ceremonies, one best actress award to a woman of colour. It was a very long time in coming for all of us.
Instead of honouring her fellow highly respected nominees (as any actress with class will do) Ms Berry turned her speech into a lesson in political correctness. Was she unaware of the extreme talent of her fellow nominees, Dame Judi Dench and Sissy to name just two? To be honoured alongside the great Judi Dench was an honour in itself and was obviously lost on Ms Berry.
Unlike the utterly ridiculous Gwyneth Paltrow, Halle Berry had good reason to be emotional during her speech. Breaking the colour barrier in the Best Actress category is a major achievement and long overdue.
Obviously very few of the people who felt Halle Berry was over the top last night ever bothered to watch the movie Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, in which Berry starred. This film told the life story of Dandridge - the first black actress ever to be nominated for an Academy Award in 1954. Dandridge's talented career as an entertainer and singer was constantly affected by her status as a woman of colour in a bigoted and divided America. Throughout her career she had to endure the worst kind of discrimination.
The film details such constant humiliations - singing in white establishments Dandridge was not even allowed to enter these hotels from anywhere but the side entrance where the kitchen staff worked. They wanted her on the stage, but not as a person. Can't a woman have a little bit of emotion about a history like that? America then, as now, is a divided country. I salute Berry's courage and her emotion. And to those like Canadian Terry who feel politics has no place in entertainment I say, wake up, the personal is the political, it sadly has always been so.
Can you imagine the uproar if a white actor were to say that his Oscar was a tribute to the white race? Whenever someone "of colour" (what an awful phrase!) succeeds, it is automatically an achievement for the entire race - now if this isn't a racist proposition I don't know what is.
Halle and Denzel won because they put in two excellent performances - their race is not a factor, and should not be made into a factor.
Reference was repeatedly made to race during the ceremony, which can only be a bad thing. The Sidney Poitier award was commented on by ONLY black people, Halle and Denzel celebrated the fact that they were black and that they won.
Surely in an equal society this should not be an issue and drawing attention to the fact, using ONLY black actors for comment, encourage segregation rather than integration.
I cannot imagine anything like this happening in the UK.
I am absolutely shocked at the comments from the UK people. I would assume a the majority of the commentators are not black and did not grow up in America. So to criticize her for the speech that every black person in America wanted to make was truly disgusting. The Brits are known for their reserved demeanour. Not Americans. And for those that are tired of "overacting Americans", why watch the show in the first place?
I have read several of the comments made about Halle's win and it is obvious things have not changed. There are comments that Halle went overboard and that she was too emotional but the fact remains that even as a bi-racial actress, no matter how "white" people may think her childhood may have been, she has been and always will be viewed and judged as a black woman. That's why she was so emotional and if you're not black, with all respect, don't try to understand it because you won't.
She's the first black women to do it, she has made history. Her tears might make some uncomfortable. What she had to say might make some uncomfortable.
The points needed to be said, and the landmark needed to by passed.
Halle Barry's speech was embarrassing. During her tirade I was either cringing or just looking away from the screen. I don't expect her to capitalise on her Oscar as a result. Oh well, one positive was that she didn't try to torture audiences any further by trying read out a poem at the end of it all!!!
I am utterly shocked at the responses to Halle Berry's victory. Do people not understand what it is to be overcome with emotion? It was not at all embarrassing - just a woman in a moment that was, as she so articulately put it, bigger than her. That was history in the making! The glass ceiling has, at last, after 74 long years been broken!! Are the British so emotionally devoid and reserved that they cannot understand 'tears of joy'. As a 'person of colour' in a male, white dominated profession, I empathise with her.
Sidney Poitier was terrific. The picture of dignity, self-assuredness and strength. HE opened doors and blazed a trail. Halle Berry wanted to jump on the band-wagon and make her award more significant than it is. Congratulations to her, but it was plain embarrassing.
I think it was a sham. I mean she was nominated so she must have known there must be at least a chance she might win. I always thought of her as graceful, but crying and all that while still making a long speech makes it look to me like it was all over-acting. Her speech looked like it would never end. If she was too emotional then take the award and say 'Thank you' that would have been classy in my book. Plus why think of different races anymore - we are all humans?
A perfect 10. The tears were just right and shined in the lights, not too much not too little. The head was at the right angle for them to glint in the lights.
The sobs punctuated the speech to the maximum effect.
If you can fake sincerity you really have it made.
We'll see a lot more of this young lady.
Halle is a very good actress and she deserved to win. Her reaction showed that she was not expecting to win. It was spontaneous and unrehearsed - Hollywood has overlooked the achievements of African-Americans for far too long. So what if she babbled on - it was such a rare moment - she had to acknowledge all those before her (Dorothy Dandrige, Angela Bassett, Oprah Winfrey...) who paved the way for her but have been so often overlooked.
She deserved it...
Rob Morris, UK
If you're black, in Hollywood or outside of it, you would understand that this is issue is not up for debate. Celebrate the history!
Could someone explain why Lenny Kravitz got up and started clapping her half way through the speech?
Touch of the verbals, lovies!
What does Halle's award have anything to do with her being black? She did a wonderful job. That is why she got the award. This did not open any doors for other black women. They must earn an award just the way Halle did.
The academy has done it again! They wanted to correct a past injustice and went overboard. Denzel Washington has deserved an Oscar many times but not for this performance, Halle Berry was just a pure embarrassment to herself and the academy. Why can't the Oscars for once give an award to the rightful winner as opposed to who they think has been overlooked before?
Well-deserved and long overdue. It's high time we gave recognition to black actors and actresses for the great work they've done.
It was certainly an important moment; the first black actress to gain an Oscar (best supporting) was in Gone with the Wind in 1939 - and that for a role of a slave. Times have moved on thank God.
It was a nice sentiment expressed by a beautiful woman who should be celebrated not scorned
How embarrassing!! I'm just listening to Howard Stern replay it this morning and I am gagging. Blech! But Tom Cruise's little diatribe was worse!
Seems to me the girl had a lot of pent up frustrations, but I think a little embarrassing for her to babble on like that, after all it's a acting award, did somebody not tell her she's already got the award.
She missed a great opportunity to show some dignity and class. I guess she's not that great an actress after all.
Sam Adams, England
Whilst I object strongly to the PC phrase 'person of colour', I can't help but think that if it creates such a buzz of interest when a black person wins a major award, we still have an awfully long way to go when it comes to equality. People should achieve based on their merits. Their skin colour should be neither here nor there.
I cringed under my duvet!
(Well-done Jim Broad bent!)
I think her speech was a bit much. I am glad she won, but I feel that she should want to be known as a great actress and not a great "woman of colour" actress. I actually got a bit frustrated and embarrassed for her when she went up there weeping hysterically for 2 minutes before she finally said something and had the audacity to thank everyone save the family dog. It was rude and in poor taste.
What utter rubbish. She got it for her 'acting' not her colour!
I thought it was hilarious. She was always the one that wanted everyone to know her for her acting and not the colour of her skin, and once she wins such a prestigious award it seems she get away from the fact that she's black, and acts like she's Rosa Parks. Didn't watch it last night, but heard it on the radio today and was embarrassed for her. She probably doesn't realize how idiotic and melodramatic she came off.
Ungracious and near political. A mere "thank you" would have been enough.
I thought it was touching and moving and wonderful. It was my favourite moment of the night.
I think it was evident that the award of the Oscar was something that had not entered Halle Berry's mind as she seemed genuinely overcome at the time of the announcement. Indeed, it looked for a while that she would struggle to get onto the stage to receive the award, never mind be able to make a speech. It also looked as if she didn't have any notes to assist her (which perhaps also shows her view on the likelihood of winning).
The question is, therefore, was her speech embarrassing in these circumstances, and the answer has to be no, it wasn't. Was it inspiring - it wasn't this either.
Sidney Poitier was, however, something else again. Dignity and strength personified.
I agree with Allan Heron from Scotland - Halle Berry's speech was not inspiring but the tears were clearly understandable.
She did not expect to win, which I think you'd have been blind not to notice (to all those who say her speech was rehearsed and contrived).
And to all those uncomfortable with the whole "racial" overtones - I say you're incredibly naive. You can't pretend that being the first black woman to win the award doesn't count - you can't brush aside that it happened - and in all fairness you can't blame a woman who's just realised that she's achieved something historic for getting emotional. So not the best speech in the world by a long shot, but at least she had a reason for being emotional.
It's unfortunate about the tears.
But what other minority than the one she comes from has it harder to prove itself?
This speech really showed up how big an issue race still is in the USA. Get over it!
Is there an Oscar for over reacting? Could only happen in America, how embarrassing.
I loved it! Sheer emotion -all natural.
Now Gwyneth can relax. Halle's speech will be repeated and repeated as another Oscars embarrassing moment.
Emotions, emotions, emotions, I really think she deserves the Oscar no matter what, and however she expresses herself, it's her own business.
Ms Berry did not believe one word that she was saying of her oh so rehearsed speech!
I thought Gwyneth Paltrow could not be beaten. Close though.
I think she is well within her rights to cry for getting an Oscar. I would.
Ms Berry's acceptance speech is proof that actors shouldn't be allowed to speak without a script first.
Haiku Lazy, UK
I was very surprised at the fact that she is the first 'woman of colour' to win best actress. Considering the Oscars have been going for 74 years I can imagine it is a very emotional award for her and some people are just far too cynical. Let people be proud of their job since their job, done well, gives the viewing world such entertainment. Well done
Big up Halle! And what is wrong with her giving props to her race. Check it out - 74 years of oscars and 2 black female winners. Its only white people who are getting offended that she mentioned her brown skin and why not? People of colour will be inspired by that fact that a black female is being taken seriously. I think she knows that she got the award for her acting. There's nothing wrong with biggin' up your people. Every person of colour knows how hard it is to be accepted in the white mans world. Not as embarrasing as Gweneth "I can't do no wrong" Paltrow.
Fred Barnes, USA
Interesting to hear people dictate how they would prefer someone else to express her joy. Well, she won, she cried, she alone knew what was on her mind. If you are not coming from her experience, should you judge why she did what she did? I am tired and impatient with people who think they are "specialists" and "experts" on others.
What a load of emotional twaddle!
Well done Halle. For a woman who has had to suffer physical and racial abuse, who is diabetic and 80% deaf in her right ear to be honoured by her peers, she is certainly allowed to have a little cry. Also, considering Halle's mother is from Liverpool, I'm surprised the media have not claimed her as one of the Brits I am supposed to root for to win!
Michael Roberts, UK
Which shall it be, her being known "merely as an actress" irrespective of race, or does she want to be seen as a "woman of colour?" One can't have it both ways.
The fact is that the Oscars are the most pretentious waffle and the voters are people that most of the time live on another planet.
Her acceptance speech justifies her Oscar.
Far too rehearsed for my liking
An over-acted slice of ham. Can actors and actresses not do 'sincere' without weeping buckets.
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