Backlash forces Halle Berry to halt transgender role

July 8, 2020
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Halle Berry

By Taiwo Okanlawon

American actress Halle Berry has pulled out of a role in an upcoming film in which she was supposed to play a transgender character after facing backlash online.

In an Instagram live interview on Friday, the actress said she had not been officially cast for the role, but she had been preparing for it.

“[It’s] a character where the woman is a trans character, so she’s a woman that transitioned into a man. She’s a character in a project I love that I might be doing,” Berry had said, adding that she wanted to take a “deep dive” into “that world,” likely referring to the trans community.

However, Berry faced backlash online after misgendering the character multiple times during the interview.

Others said members of the transgender community should be allowed to play transgender roles.

On Monday night, she issued an apology and pulled out of the role, saying “the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories.”

She wrote: “Over the weekend I had the opportunity to discuss my consideration of an upcoming role as a transgender man, and I’d like to apologize for those remarks.

“As a cisgender woman, I now understand that I should not have considered this role and that the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories.

“I am grateful for the guidance and critical conversation over the past few days and will continue to listen, educate and learn from this mistake. I vow to be an ally in using my voice to promote better representation on-screen, both in front of and behind the camera.”

Halle Berry’s initial comment caught the attention of the Twitter account for the Netflix documentary “Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen”. The documentary examines Hollywood’s portrayal of transgender people and their stories.

The documentary’s account asked Halle Berry to watch the film to “understand how cis actors like yourself acting in trans roles has major cultural consequences offscreen.”

After Berry’s apology, the account thanked her for “listening and learning.”

The LGBTQ rights organization GLAAD also responded, saying “We are pleased that Halle Berry listened to the concerns of transgender people and learned from them. Other powerful people should do the same. A good place to start is by watching ‘Disclosure’ to learn about trans representation in media.”

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