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Read Halle Berry’s speech accepting the #SeeHer Award for boundary-pushing.

Laura Zornosa

On Sunday evening, Halle Berry accepted the Critics Choice Association’s #SeeHer Award, which honors a woman who pushes “boundaries on changing stereotypes” and furthers “authentic portrayals of women across the entertainment landscape.”

In doing so, the Oscar winner referenced her recent drama “Bruised,” her directorial debut. First, she said, she asked the producers why she couldn’t act in it. Then, she asked why she couldn’t direct it. Both times, they answered, “Why not?”

“And then finally, when the film came out, I got the courage to ask someone what he thought of the movie,” Berry said. “And he said, ‘I have a hard time watching a woman get battered and beaten. It made me feel uncomfortable.’”

“And in that moment, I knew exactly why I had to tell this story. I knew exactly the power of the story,” she continued. “Because I said, ‘If you had a hard time, if it made you uncomfortable watching that story, imagine being that woman living that story.’”

That, she said, was the power of storytelling: It can help people consider others, find compassion and empathy for them. Berry said she used to aspire to roles typically played by white men.

Now, she has realized that “for those roles to work, they would have to be substantially changed,” she said. “It would have to be written with the reality of my journey, in all of its beauty and all of its pain.”

That, the actress and director said, is why she is grateful to be creating in the moment, when women are telling their own stories. She concluded:

“We will use our emotional intelligence and we will tell stories that don’t fit preconceived notions. No, we will tell stories that see us fully in all our multitudes and contradictions, because we are confident and we are scared. We are vulnerable and we are strong. We are beautiful and we are abused. We are everything and all of that, and all at the same time. Because if we deny our complexity, then we deny our humanity.

We won’t always be pretty, and we will never be perfect, but what we will be is honest and true, no matter how uncomfortable that makes you. These are the stories we have to fight to tell, and these are the stories that the world needs to see. So to every little girl who feels unseen and unheard, this is our way of saying to you, ‘We love you and we see you. And you deserve every good thing in this world.’”

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