Mass Mutual and NewsOne join together to present 28 dynamic people that make up the diverse tapestry of Black History. For the entire month of February, Black History Month, we will feature one Person of the Day and highlight their lives and achievements.
Halle Berry, well known for her striking beauty, made history by becoming the first and only African-American woman to win an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2002. The Ohio native could have easily coasted on the merits of her win, but she continues to be a force in Hollywood at an age where many of her counterparts fade away. However, there are aspects of Berry’s life that show far more depth than any of the characters she’s played.
Berry was born on August 14, 1966, in Cleveland, to parents Jerome and Judith Berry. After graduating from high school, she entered the world of beauty pageants and won the titles of Miss Teen All American in 1985 and Miss Ohio USA in 1986. Berry came in second place in 1986 in the Miss USA competition, and was the first African-American Miss World model in the same year. Berry then continued with a career in modeling.
After some small bit roles on TV, Berry made her film debut as a drug addict in Spike Lee’s 1991 film, Jungle Fever. Then, she co-starred in the comedy Strictly Business before a career-shifting role as Eddie Murphy‘s love interest in the classic romantic comedy, Boomerang. As her star rose, she took on more serious roles and became a spokeswoman for Revlon.
Berry became a darling of critics after starring in the HBO biopic, “Introducing Dorothy Dandrige,” where she played the popular actress. The role gained Berry Emmy and Golden Globe awards. Berry’s 2002 Oscar win for her role in the drama Monster’s Ball was memorable for acceptance speech alone, where she tearfully thanked other actresses of color before her that have been denied the honor.
Berry, who suffers from Type 1 diabetes, became the first celebrity ambassador for the “Diabetes Aware” campaign. Berry, who witnessed domestic violence in her home as a child, has been an active supporter of the Jenesse Center in Los Angeles which assists victims of the crime. Berry has also been outspoken on environmental issues and has supported a number of charities over the course of her long career.
The married mother of two returns to her starring role as Storm in the upcoming X-Men film coming later this spring.