Halle Berry

09May10

by James Robert Parish
Ferguson Career Biographies

While visiting with family over spring break, I saw a report that my niece did on Halle Berry in her fourth grade class. I read the report, and realized the importance role models like Halle Berry have on young, bi-racial children. Growing up in a family of all Caucasians, it was at this moment that I realized that my niece longed for successful, bi-racial role models to help her formulate her identity. Through the use of biographies, children can learn more about the formative experiences and paths that people have taken to get to where they are today.

In the spirit of my niece’s report on Halle Berry, I chose to check out a biography on her from the local library. I selected Halle Berry: Actor of the Ferguson Career Biographies collection. Reading this biography, one learns that  Halle Berry has indeed overcome much diversity in her life. Growing up biracial in a single parent household was difficult enough, but Berry also struggled with diabetes and abusive relationships. Overcoming this difficult childhood and the criticism of many people who thought she would not be able to make it as an a model and actor, Berry found early success in beauty pageants. Taking a risk by relocating to New York City, Berry pursued her acting career with success.  In 2002, Berry became the first African American to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Monster’s Ball.

Parish includes anecdotes about how Halle would find boxes of Oreo cookies in her mailbox at school implying that she was black on the outside but white on the inside, or of an occasion where a  classmate “insisted to Halle that her mother could not be her real mother because Mrs. Berry was white and Halle was black.” My niece has often struggled with similar situations, and to know that others have had similar struggles can be a relief for children still formulating their identities.

Parish covers Halle’s early life, and then weaves together her personal and professional life as her career unfolds over the years. Additional features of this biography include a time-line of her life and major milestones, a section on “How to become an actor”  and additional resources on learning more about actors as well as Halle Berry.

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