It’s been 15 years since Halle Berry‘s historic turn as the first black woman to win Best Actress at the Academy Awards. Berry’s 2002 Oscar-winning role in Monster’s Ball, as the wife of a man on death row, was full of raw emotion and depth, with the actor’s inspiring acceptance speech still widely praised today.
Following her monumental win, Berry dedicated her award to “every nameless, faceless woman of colour that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened,” but 15 years later, the door remains closed.
In a new interview with Teen Vogue, Berry, who remains the only woman of colour to win an Academy award for Best Actress, says that she feels now that the seemingly groundbreaking win meant nothing.
Speaking with the magazine at a panel at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Berry says the continued lack of diversity in Hollywood is painful to see, citing the 2016 #OscarsSoWhite trend as “probably one of my lowest professional moments.”
Following the 2016 nomination announcement Berry said, “I sat there and I really thought, ‘Wow, that moment really meant nothing. It meant nothing. I thought it meant something, but I think it meant nothing.'”
This year’s Academy Awards did show some improvement, with an increase in nominations from 2016 for non-white actors in leading and supporting roles, including Denzel Washington, Octavia Spencer, Naomie Harris, and Ruth Negga. Both Viola Davis (Fences) and Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) won Best Supporting Actress and Actor for their roles.
Berry said that while she was hurt by the 2016 Academy Awards, she’s now working to create more opportunities for actors of colour. “I was profoundly hurt by that, and saddened by that. It inspired me to try to get involved in other ways, which is why I want to start directing. I want to start producing more,” said Berry. “I want to start making more opportunities for people of colour. I have conversations more deeply with Academy members, and I’m trying to figure out how to help and add more diversity to the Academy.”
During Viola Davis’ 2015 Emmy acceptance speech for Best Actress, the How To Get Away With Murder star not only referenced Berry, but said “The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity.” This sentiment was echoed by Berry at this week’s Cannes panel. “These kinds of groups have to start changing and have to become more conscious and more inclusive,” Berry said. “I think black people . . . people of colour . . . only have a chance to win based on how much we’re allowed to put out. That says to me that we need more people of colour writing, directing, producing—not just starring. We have to start telling stories that include us.”