Halle Berry became the first black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress in 2001 for her role in “Monster’s Ball.” In 2020, however, Berry found herself bullied into apologizing for accepting a role to play a transgender man in a movie, turning it down after backlash from LGBT activists.
“Over the weekend I had the opportunity to discuss my consideration of an upcoming role as a transgender man, and I’d like to apologize for those remarks,” Berry posted on her social media. “As a cisgender woman, I now understand that I should not have considered this role, and that the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories.”
Despite her apology, LGBT media complained that beforehand, while describing the upcoming role, Berry had “misgendered” the character and called it a “female” story she felt was important to tell. Berry had previously said, “Who this woman was is so interesting to me, and that will probably be my next project, and that will require me cutting all of my hair off.”
She continued, “It changes to a man, but I want to understand the why and how of that. I want to get into it.” The role involved the character transitioning, which would make a female actor going through the process seem reasonable.
The backlash came not only from Berry being a cisgender actor — meaning one who lives consistently with her sex — but also her mistake in referring to a biological female as “she” prior to transition. The resounding argument was that only transgender actors should play transgender characters or, as Berry expressed, “tell their own stories.” This argument undermines much of not only Berry’s career but LGBT representation in media until recently.
Actors Are Supposed to Act
In 2002, after winning her Oscar, Berry lamented that her win meant nothing. It was groundbreaking at the time, but a year later she said she hoped her win would open opportunities for other black actors to portray characters that are not specifically black. She argued black actors are still required to play stereotypes and other common tropes rather than expanding into unique characters beyond racial context or limitations. Yet nearly 20 years later, Berry finds herself apologizing for daring to take on such a role.
Why was this necessary? While some stories, such as “Orange Is the New Black” and “Sense8,” featured transgender actors playing transgender characters with specific transgender storylines, other popular favorites, such as “American Horror Story,” created by LGBT mogul Ryan Murphy, have challenged this standard.
In “American Horror Story: Hotel,” gay actor Denis O’Hare played a transgender woman named Elizabeth Taylor who lived and identified as a woman but never transitioned. The role challenged the conflict between O’Hare as a man dressed as a woman and convinced the audience to believe his character was, indeed, a woman.
In “American Horror Story: Cult,” Chaz Bono, a biological woman who lives as a man and is the only child of Cher, portrayed two heterosexual male characters, one of which was a Trump supporter. In “American Horror Story: 1984,” Angelica Ross, a biological man who identifies as a woman, played a main character who was simply assumed to be a gender-natural heterosexual woman. This was assumed because those aspects of Ross’ identity were irrelevant to the depth and interest of the character. Had the audience not known Bono and Ross were transgender in real life, it never would have been apparent.
Which is more effective representation: A trans actor playing a trans character with a trans-related story? Or trans actors playing unique and interesting roles without their personal lives overlapping? “American Horror Story” has done similar things with gay and straight characters and actors, with both gay and straight actors playing opposite roles in various seasons, always without controversy. Why? Because the audience cares only for the character and the story. The actor’s personal life rarely matters.
Halle Berry Capitulates to LGBT Hypocrites
What Berry complained of in 2002 is what she is helping to promote in 2020. By arguing that characters must be played by actors who share their inherent characteristics, the left is effectively limiting possibilities for minority actors. While a great deal of hypocrisy exists regarding gay or trans actors portraying straight characters, this movement is effectively restricting opportunity rather than expanding it.
Berry, who has played dozens of iconic characters in many genres, would have been highly effectual in portraying a sympathetic trans story. By arrogantly demanding Hollywood restrict roles in such superficial ways, the LGBT left is effectively limiting the number of chances for their stories to be viewed in the mainstream, portrayed by popular and influential actors. No one wins in this situation.
Of course, the point of acting is to convincingly portray a character to the audience. The actor’s real life should not matter. Berry and other minority actors understood this when they were fighting for access to roles otherwise considered exclusive to white or male actors. Today, they sheepishly bow to the identity-obsessed left and signal their virtue by “offering” their role to actors who more closely resemble the character they otherwise were the best person to play.