Halle Berry speaks out on diversity, says her historic Oscar is meaningless

Actress Halle Berry arrives during the 89th Academy Awards Oscars Red Carpet Arrivals in Hollywood, California on Feb 26, 2017.
Actress Halle Berry arrives during the 89th Academy Awards Oscars Red Carpet Arrivals in Hollywood, California on Feb 26, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Halle Berry, the only black woman to ever win a Best Actress Oscar, said her 2002 win turned out to be meaningless, and Michelle Rodriguez warned she may quit the Fast And Furious action movie franchise unless film-makers "show some love for women".

Their comments proved a reality check for women in Hollywood on Wednesday even as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said it invited 298 more women to join its ranks in a bid to improve diversity at the organisation behind the Oscars.

Berry in 2002 won the Best Actress Oscar for Monster's Ball. Fifteen years on, she remains the only woman of colour to get the honour. "Wow, that moment really meant nothing. It meant nothing. I thought it meant something, but I think it meant nothing," she told Teen Vogue editor Elaine Welteroth in a video interview at the Cannes Lion festival released on Tuesday.

Berry said she reached that troubling conclusion in 2016 when all 20 of the Oscar acting nominees were white, sparking the #OscarsSoWhite backlash. "I was profoundly hurt by that, and saddened by that," she said, adding that it had prompted her to want to start directing and producing to make more opportunities for actors of colour.

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Elsewhere, Rodriguez, who plays Vin Diesel's love interest in five of the eight Fast And Furious movies, suggested she was prepared to quit her role in the hit franchise as tough street racer Letty Ortiz over the portrayal of women.

The eighth film "is out digitally today", she wrote on her Instagram account on Tuesday above a montage of photos from the film. "I hope they decide to show some love to the women of the franchise on the next one or I just might have to say goodbye to a loved franchise."

It's not the first time she has spoken out.

In an interview in May with Entertainment Weekly, she said women in action films should have "more female camaraderie", with women doing things "independently outside of what the boys are doing - now that is truly the voice of female independence".

The Fast And Furious franchise has taken in more than US$5 billion at the box office worldwide since 2001 and two more films are planned for release in 2019 and 2021.