Mario Sorrenti/W Magazine
Halle Berry is one of the most sought after actresses in Hollywood. Not only is she talented, but over the years, the 50-year-old star has managed to continuously become one of the most desirable women in show business. And that's no surprise—she's absolutely gorgeous.
However, this former pageant girl's beauty didn't make it any easier for Berry to make a mark in the industry, contrary to common belief. In fact, the Oscar winner explains that she had to work even harder to get industry professionals to take her seriously because of her looks.
"I came from the world of beauty pageants and modeling and right away when people heard that I got discounted as an actor," she explained during an interview with W magazine for their October issue.
Berry initially went into modeling after graduating high school, and desired to get into journalism, but a Second City teacher urged Halle to get into acting. After a short-lived run on television series Living Dolls in the late '80s, the award-winning actress got her first movie role in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever, but the role she auditioned for wasn't the role she wanted.
"Spike Lee wanted me to read for the part of his wife and I read that part fine enough, but then I said to Spike 'You know I really am eyeing this crack ho role, can you please let me audition for that?' And he said, 'no, no I don't see you as the crack ho,'" she explained, but noted that she wouldn't take no for an answer. Instead, Berry went into the bathroom and washed off all her makeup, and went back out to take on the crack ho.
"So, he let me do that and I came back out and I got to read the crack ho, and I got the part of the of the crack ho. And it was an amazing way to start my career, playing a crack ho be directed by Spike Lee. It was major for me."
That sparked Halle's desire to go after the not-so-pretty roles in Hollywood, because she wanted to show that it wasn't about her looks.
"It was intentional to not play the gorgeous girl," Berry tells the mag. "I came from the world of beauty pageants and modeling and right away when people heard that I got discounted as an actor. So, I had the job of trying to eliminate that part of my persona, and Spike gave me a chance to do that. And I took on roles early on that really didn't rely on my physical self at all and that was a good way to sort of get some credibility within my industry."
A similar situation happened when Berry went to read for Monsters Ball, a role which would later crown her as the first black actress to win an Academy Award.
"With Monsters Ball, Lee Daniels didn't want to see me read. He was actually disgusted by the thought. He thought there's no way and my argument to him was, just because someone looks a certain way doesn't mean that they are spared adversity. Adversity does not discriminate. I thought, 'My looks haven't spared me one hardship or one hurt moment or one painful situation. So please, you know, give me a shot at this.' I said, 'I often think it's more interesting when you see someone that looks a certain way struggle in ways that you wouldn't think they would be struggling with.' He ultimately gave me a chance and that sort of changed the course of my career in so many ways."