We just can't help it, can we? We all have an innate suspicion of models who become actors. We immediately feel that, otherwise talentless, they've been cast on their looks alone, that they have no real right to inhabit our screens. Whenever someone tries it, the jeers begin and those terrible four words are uttered: Cindy, Crawford, Fair and Game. Yet Halle Berry, a former model and, worse still, a Beauty Pageant winner, has risen above all that. Through a combination of the usual luck and, above all, hard work and persistence, she's made herself into a fine actress, an Emmy winner and the most welcome Oscar winner in recent years. And it has not been easy...
Halle Maria Berry was born on the 14th of August, 1968 (though some insist it was 1966), in Cleveland, Ohio. She was named after the town's Halle Building, which originally housed the Halle Brothers department store but is now an office block (it's also used in the Drew Carey Show). Her father, Jerome, an African American and a hospital attendant by trade, left when she was just four, so she and her elder sister Heidi were raised by their Caucasian, Liverpool-born mother, Judith, herself a nurse in a psychiatric ward. Jerome would return after four years but the violence he directed towards Judith and Heidi meant that he did not stay for long. Throughout her adult life, Halle Would have no contact with him at all, still being estranged when Jerome died in 2003.
Halle's first few years were spent in a black neighbourhood of Cleveland. Here her fair complexion made her stand out, but not as much as she did when her mother moved them out of the inner-city to a mainly white suburb. Now, a little older and in this conservative milieu, her "difference" was not so readily tolerated. "I'm black," she said later. "I realised very early in my life that I wasn't going to be this mulatto stuck in the middle, not knowing if I'm black or white".
To overcome these racial difficulties, Halle threw herself into school activities at Bedford High and tried to make friends. She did well. She was in the Honour Society, a cheerleader, class president, and an editor on the school newspaper. And, naturally, she was Prom Queen. At least, she was joint Prom Queen. Having won outright, she was accused of voting irregularities and (guess what?) forced to share her title with a WASP