Halle Berry Talks Teaching Her 7-Year-Old Son to Rethink Harmful Gender Stereotypes

At the panel, "Women Breaking Barriers: An Industry Shift," alongside actresses Robin Wright, Zendaya and more, Halle Berry spoke about the ways she's fighting sexism within her family.

By Kaitlin Reilly Jan 30, 2021 11:03 PMTags
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Halle Berry is fighting sexism by teaching her son Maceo Martinez, 7, to break gender stereotypes. 

On Jan. 30, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association hosted a panel titled "Women Breaking Barriers: An Industry Shift" as part of the Sundance Film Festival, which, due to the coronavirus pandemic, is taking place virtually this year. The event, which was hosted by HFPA members Elisabeth Sereda and Silvia Bizio, featured Berry as well as Andra Day, Robin Wright, Sia and Zendaya in a conversation about how women, and in particular women of color, are fighting for equality in Hollywood in the wake of major social movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter.

During the conversation, Wright pointed out that eventually, she wants women to no longer have to "fight for a position to be heard," and that will only come with education. 

As Wright explained, "[Men] have to shift their perspective. And that they have to shift their psyche. It's what they've only known. What a great opportunity for the new generation, the children of today, to be able to educate them when they're 3, 4, 5 years old. To teach them something new. Not the way we grew up."

Berry, who is making her directorial debut with the MMA drama Bruised, which last year screened as a work-in-progress at the Toronto Film Festival and sold to Netflix, spoke about how she's teaching her son with ex-husband actor Oliver Martinez to respect the power of women.

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The Oscar winner explained, "I have a 7-year-old son, and I have realized what my job is in raising him. If we want to have a future that's different, that is where it starts. You made me think of how many conversations I've had with him, say, since he's turned 5 years old, about the differences in boys and girls, and I see how he's taught to feel like he's superior, at 5, than girls are."

Berry added, "I've had to really break that down for him and give him a new perspective, and challenge those thoughts and ask him to identify where that comes from, and if he believes that or not and challenge what he's subconsciously getting from somewhere. I can tell that because we're having those conversations he is going to grow as a deep thinker on the subject. He's going to be determined not to just accept it. I keep challenging him all the time, like 'Well, why is that a 'girl color?'"


Fortunately, it sounds like things are improving for the younger generation—at least according to Euphoria star and producer Zendaya, 24, the youngest woman to participate in the panel.

The Emmy-winning actress, who starred in and produced Netflix's new film Malcolm and Marie, told the women, "I've been lucky enough to work with men who have respected my power, and encouraged it, with that being Sam [Levinson] and obviously John [David Washington]. I've been lucky to be in those experiences that are collaborative and open to what the world should be looking like."

But she made sure to also praise her female predecessors, adding, "Had it not been for the women before me, I wouldn't be in this position." 

Watch the full panel above.