In light of the Academy Awards which are happening this Sunday, I thought I should salute two women who made Oscar history. The first is Halle Berry. Her gut wrenching portrayal in Monster’s Ball of a hard-working waitress struggling to raise an obese son while her husband sat on death row earned her the Best Actress Oscar, making her the first African American woman to accomplish this.
The emotional scenes in the movie were raw. In the nude scene with Billy Bob Thornton, Halle seemed to be comfortable with baring it all. In an interview, she was asked about this. “But with Monster’s Ball, without this scene, I think it would be a very different movie. I think it’s a pivotal moment and from that moment on, you understand why these two people get together.” What helped Halle to really let herself go was, the fact that “Billy [Bob Thornton] went to the same place I went to. He was as naked, as nude, as exposed, as I was. You saw everything on him as you did me. Men don’t have breasts so we didn’t get that thrill. But he was just as vulnerable.”
In another interview, she admitted that “it was tough, but like I said, not tougher than when I had to abuse my overweight son. No tougher than that. That was probably tougher than the love scene.”
Halle was not director Marc Foster’s choice for the role of Leticia but Halle pushed until she won him over. She explains how she managed to convince that she was right for the part and why she was so determined to get it. “I just know that I was relentless in my approach. I just wanted a chance to sit in the room and tell him who I thought she was. My take on the movie. How I thought I could breathe life into her. I wanted a chance to tell him all these things that were brewing inside of me and I finally got that chance. And then I met with him a couple of times, and then the producer, and then Billy Bob, until they just gave in.
“It’s a wonderful character for a woman to play and we don’t see them that often. I think they are becoming more available but not that often. I think I related to her right away when I read the movie screenplay. I was riveted. I wanted to know what would happen to her. Things kept happening, the unthinkable, twists and turns and I started to care about these people.
Her persistence paid off. On 24 March 2002, Halle Berry made Oscar history. “I am so honoured, I’m so honoured, and I thank the Academy for choosing me to be the vessel for which this blessing might flow.
Eight years later another woman makes Oscar history. Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director for Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker.
“This really is… There’s no other way to describe it, it’s the moment of a lifetime. First of all, this is so extraordinary to be in the company of such powerful, my fellow nominees, such powerful filmmakers who have inspired me and I have admired for, some of whom, for decades. And thank you to every member of the Academy. This is, again, the moment of a lifetime”.
Bigelow was once married to fellow director James Cameron. Bothwere both nominated for Best Director at the 2010, 82nd Academy Awards.
In April 2010, Bigelow was named to the Time 100 list of most influential people of the year.
Kudos to these two remarkable women who used their talents to make waves in the movie business. They prove that anything is possible once you set your mind to it. Each of us can have our “moment of a lifetime”.