Halle Berry has been described as many things: beautiful, gorgeous, alluring. She’s also a mother, a wife and an Oscar-winning actress. But is she also a feminist? According to her, yes.
Let’s be clear: a feminist is a woman who advocates social, political, legal and economic rights for women equal to those of men. Judging from Halle Berry’s body of work, she’s made a conscious decision to do just that. True, Halle has undoubtedly taken on some roles that celebrate her unmatched beauty (like the James Bond opus, Die Another Day) and the action thriller that touted her first topless scene (Swordfish).
But the Halle Berry filmography also includes the socio-political comedy Bulworth; Monster’s Ball, which addressed one woman’s grief and poverty; Losing Isaiah, which dealt with the affects of crack use, overcoming it, and the different faces of parenting and family; and now her latest role, Frankie & Alice (opening tomorrow), in which she gives a searing look at mental illness in the Black community, something that remains a social taboo. All suggest that Berry’s cinematic repertoire has been punctuated with feminist work.
Frankie & Alice, produced by the actress herself, is inspired by the remarkable true story of a go-go dancer in the early 1970s who, after suffering some trauma in her adolescence, develops a mentally debilitating condition called dissociative identity disorder (DID). She struggles to remain her true self while fighting against two very unique alter egos: a 7-year-old child named Genius, and a Southern White racist woman named Alice.
Frankie finds her way to a psychotherapist named Dr. Oz (Stellan Skarsgård), to try and uncover and overcome the mystery of the inner ghosts that haunt her. It’s in those sessions that the audience is treated to a true actress at her best, as Halle seamlessly slips from one personality to another.
EBONY sat down on camera for an exclusive interview with Halle Berry, where she addressed the question of feminism, what drew her to the story of Frankie & Alice, and how closely the character relates to her own personal life.—Crystal Shaw