Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry, known for her roles in Monster’s Ball, Die Another Day and the X-Men franchise, has dropped out of plans to play a transgender man in an upcoming movie. She took to Twitter to apologise after receiving a backlash, vowing to “be an ally in using my voice to promote better representation on-screen, both in front of and behind the camera.”
Her apology stated “Over the weekend I had the opportunity to discuss my consideration of an upcoming role as a transgender man, and I’d like to apologise 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.”
She followed up by stating she is “grateful for the guidance and critical conversation over the past few years” promising to “continue to listen, educate and learn” from her mistake.
The apology comes after the star received a lot of criticism and backlash for a recent Instagram Live where she stated her recent preparation for the role. During the IGTV, she misgendered the character multiple times, stating: “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…who this woman was is so interesting to me and that will probably be my next project.”
Berry went on to say she wanted to “experience that world” and “understand that world”, referring to the transgender experience. This, understandably, received outrage on the Internet for using the wrong pronouns to describe the character and her display of ignorance and lack of understanding. Actor Jordan Gonzales stated “please rethink this role. There are plenty of us trans actors who are more than capable of telling our stories, myself included.” This was followed by a tweet from the Twitter account for Netflix document Disclosure which narrativises trans representation in Hollywood.
Cisgender actors playing trans character has been a source of debate and controversy for a long time in the film industry. In 2018, Scarlett Johansson dropped out of Rub & Tug after she received similar backlash for her plans to play the lead role of a transgender man. For years, high profile roles representing the transgender experience have gone to cisgender stars such as Jared Leto and Eddie Redmayne, removing the opportunity for realistic trans representation in the media.
Berry was never officially confirmed in the role and after her apology for her controversial remarks, it seems she will not be taking up the character as intended.
Words by Lucy Lillystone