Halle Berry Pulls Out Of Transgender Film Role After Backlash
Actress Halle Berry has announced her decision to voluntarily walk away from an upcoming role in which she was to have played a transgender woman. On Friday, Berry spoke about the role during an Instagram Live interview, in which she created controversy by repeatedly misgendering the character. 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.”
Halle Berry, 53, tweeted on Monday:
— Halle Berry (@halleberry) July 7, 2020
Berry’s comments caught the attention of the Twitter account for the Netflix documentary “Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen,” which was released last month and examines Hollywood’s portrayal of transgender people and their stories.The doc’s account asked that Berry 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.”
The topic of transgender representation in Hollywood has come into sharp focus in recent times. Scarlett Johansson was cast as a transgender character in the film Rub and Tug back in 2018 before she pulled out of the role after online backlash to the casting.
The main argument made by Trans rights activists is that it is difficult enough for transgender actors to get regular roles in mainstream Hollywood. Having cis-actors play trans characters further pushes trans actors out of the playing field even when their personal experiences make them better suited to such roles.
Interestingly, even as Berry was forced to drop out of her upcoming role where she would have played a transgender character, in the past month this year an online campaign petition had been launched to have Berry replaced by the transgender star of Pose, Dominique Jackson in the role of X-Men group member Storm. The petition received thousands of signatures from supporters from all over the world.
When sharing her decision to not take the part, Berry added on Twitter, “I am grateful for the guidance and critical conversation over the past few days and I 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.”
GLAAD, which promotes LGBTQ equality in media, tweeted in response to Berry’s apology, “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 to learn about trans representation in media.”
We are pleased that @halleberry 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_Doc to learn about trans representation in media. https://t.co/SAxSvXxbk3
— GLAAD (@glaad) July 7, 2020
In recent years, cisgender actors have faced controversy over playing transgender characters. In 2018, Scarlett Johansson was cast as a transgender character in the film “Rub and Tug,” sparking backlash from trans rights groups and activists. A week later, she exited the role.