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Halle Maria Berry (born August 14, 1966) is an Emmy, Golden Globe, and Academy Award-winning American actress and former fashion model and beauty queen. Berry was awarded the Best Actress Academy Award in 2002 for her performance in Monster's Ball, and is the only woman of African American descent to have won the Academy Award for Best Actress.
"I don't see a white woman. I see a black woman, even though my mother is white. Knowing that has made my life easier, I think." Halle Berry
The youngest daughter of Caucasian mother Judith Ann Hawkins (nurse) and African-American father Jerome Berry (former hospital employee), Halle Maria Berry was born on August 14, 1968 in Cleveland, Ohio. At age 4 her parents divorced with Halle and older sister Heidi (born in 1966) continuing to be raised by their mother in a white community in Cleveland.
Halle attended Heskett Middle School in Bedford, Ohio and enrolled at the Bedford High School in Cleveland. Despite being exposed to discrimination in a predominantly white high school, Halle was very active in extracurricular activities, became the school paper editor, class president, lead cheerleader, and also prom queen. After graduation, Halle continued studying Broadcast Journalism at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated in 1986.
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A former teenage beauty queen, Halle Berry traded a successful modeling career for acting in the late 1980s. After high school, this youngest daughter of a black father and white mother, entered the Miss Teen Ohio Pageant and won, representing the state at the Miss Teen All-American Pageant. An overachiever since she was a child, Berry attempted to add another crown as Miss Ohio in the Miss USA competition but placed as first runner-up. After finishing in the top five at the Miss World pageant, she moved into modeling, working first in the Chicago area and later in NYC. By 1989, Berry had begun the transition to performing when she was appropriately cast as a teenage model in the short-lived ABC sitcom "Living Dolls." Guest work in other comedy series followed before she was able to convince Spike Lee she could handle the demanding role of a crack addict in his "Jungle Fever" (1991).
Delivering a harrowing performance in that film, Berry proved she was more than just a beauty. Finding roles that challenged her abilities, however, proved more daunting. She was cast as a femme fatale in "Strictly Business" and Damon Wayans' stripper girlfriend in "The Last Boy Scout" (both 1991) before portraying a career woman who falls for Eddie Murphy in "Boomerang" (1992) and a headstrong post-Civil War woman in the titular role of "Queen," a CBS miniseries, based on the book by Alex Haley. Berry then landed the role of a sultry secretary in the live-action "The Flintstones" (1994), winning the part after Sharon Stone rejected it. As a former drug addict struggling to regain custody of her son in "Losing Isaiah" (1995), the actress showed she could handle more serious fare, holding her own opposite powerhouse co-star Jessica Lange. Her hard-as-nails flight attendant was one of the few high points of the otherwise run-of-the-mill "Executive Decision" (1996), and she once again broke racial barriers as the spouse who finds herself framed for murder in "The Rich Man's Wife" (also 1996). Berry looked lovely but seemed miscast in the lead of the TV miniseries "The Wedding" (ABC, 1998), set in the upper middle class black milieu of Martha's Vineyard in the 1950s. She fared better as an intelligent woman raised by activists who gives an older politician (Warren Beatty) a new lease on life in "Bulworth" and as the singer Zola Taylor, one of the three wives of pop singer Frankie Lymon, in the unfortunately overlooked biopic "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" (both 1998).
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Halle has been married twice, firstly in 1992 to pro baseball player David Justice which ended in divorce in 1996. David played with the Atlanta Braves and had experienced a measure of fame as the team rose to national attention in the early 1990s. They found it difficult to maintain their relationship when he was playing baseball and she was filming elsewhere. She has made public that she was so despondent after her breakup with Justice that she considered taking her own life.
Her second marriage in 2001 to musician Eric Benét resulted in a 2004 separation and 2005 divorce. In 2004, after their separation, Berry stated "I want love, and I will find it, hopefully". She adopted Eric's daughter India and Halle and India are still in contact after the separation. As of 2006, she is dating Canadian supermodel Gabriel Aubry, who is nine years her junior. The couple met at a Versace photoshoot. After six months with Aubry, she stated in an interview "I'm really happy in my personal life, which is a novelty to me. You know I'm not the girl that has the best relationships".
Berry recently revealed that she plans to adopt children. "I will adopt if it doesn't happen for me naturally", she said. "I will definitely adopt. And I probably will adopt even if it does happen naturally". It has since been speculated that Aubry, who lived in five foster families between the ages of 3 and 18, possibly inspired Berry's interest in adoption. Later, she stated "I never want to be married again. I guess you could say I have bad taste in men. But I no longer feel the need to be someone's wife. I don't feel like I need to be validated by being in a marriage".
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