Halle Berry was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Her father, Jerome Jesse Berry, was African-American, and worked as a hospital attendant. Her mother, Judith Ann (Hawkins), who is Caucasian, has English and German ancestry, and is a retired psychiatric nurse. Halle has an older sister, Heidi Berry. Halle first came into the spotlight at seventeen years when she won the Miss Teen All-American Pageant, representing the state of Ohio in 1985 and, a year later in 1986, when she was the first runner-up in the Miss U.S.A. Pageant. After participating in the pageant, Halle became a model. It eventually led to her first weekly TV series, 1989’s Living Dolls (1989), where she soon gained a reputation for her on-set tenacity, preferring to “live” her roles and remaining in character even when the cameras stopped rolling. It paid off though when she reportedly refused to bathe for several days before starting work on her role as a crack addict in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever (1991) because the role provided her big screen breakthrough. The following year, she was cast as Eddie Murphy’s love interest in Boomerang (1992), one of the few times that Murphy was evenly matched on screen. In 1994, Berry gained a youthful following for her performance as sexy secretary “Sharon Stone” in The Flintstones (1994). She next had a highly publicized starring role with Jessica Lange in the adoption drama Losing Isaiah (1995). Though the movie received mixed reviews, Berry didn’t let that slow her down, and continued down her path to super-stardom.
In 1998, she received critical success when she starred as a street smart young woman who takes up with a struggling politician in Warren Beatty’s Bulworth (1998). The following year, she won even greater acclaim for her role as actress Dorothy Dandridge in made-for-cable’s Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999), for which she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Movie/Mini-Series. In 2000, she received box office success in X-Men (2000) in which she played “Storm”, a mutant who has the ability to control the weather. In 2001, she starred in the thriller Swordfish (2001), and became the first African-American to win Best Actress at the Academy Awards, for her role as a grieving mother in the drama Monster’s Ball (2001).