Halle Berry says having black role models in movies and television was very important to her growing up.
The Catwoman star insisted that it was crucial for Hollywood to create content with diverse castings, as being able to admire actresses such as Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge and Diahann Carroll when she was younger helped revamp it. into the woman she is today.
Speaking in the upcoming PBS documentary American Masters: How It Feels to Be Free, she said, “I really struggled to find any images of black women or black women that I could relate to. I remember seeing Lena Horne in Stormy Weather, I remember seeing Dorothy Dandridge in Carmen Jones, and then a little later I remember seeing Diahann Carroll in Julia and it rearranged me.
“Seeing Diahann Carroll being the star of a show and playing a mother who was a nurse, who was educated, who was beautiful, reorganized me and it made me realize that I was worth and that I could turn to each week a woman who looked like who I aspire to be growing up.
“I was a black child raised by a white woman, so I didn’t have these images in my house. Finding them on TV and in movies has become very, very crucial for me.”
American Masters: How It Feels to Be Free is set for release on January 18 and chronicles how six women – Horne, Carroll, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier – went through the hell of the entertainment industry. determined to keep them out and sees their activism as a precursor to contemporary movements like #BlackLivesMatter.
The film features archival interviews and performances with the six women as well as original conversations with contemporary artists they have influenced.
Alongside Halle, Lena Waithe, Meagan Good, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, and Samuel L. Jackson all appear in the documentary.
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