Halle Berry's parents selected her first name from that of
Halle's Department Store, which was then a local landmark in her
birthplace of Cleveland, Ohio. She is the daughter of Judith Ann
Hawkins, a Liverpudlian, and Jerome J. Berry, who is African
American. Berry's maternal grandmother, Nellie Dicken, was born
in Sawley, Derbyshire, England, while her maternal grandfather,
Earl Ellsworth Hawkins, was born in Ohio. Berry's parents
divorced when she was 4 years old and she subsequently was
raised by her mother, a psychiatric nurse. Her father was an
orderly in the same psychiatric ward where her mother worked.
Berry has an older sister, Heidi who was born two years before
Halle Berry was a popular student at Bedford High School and was a cheerleader, honor society member, editor of the school newspaper, class president and prom queen. She worked in the children's department at Higbee's Department store. She subsequently attended Cuyahoga Community College.
Before becoming an actress, she entered and won several beauty contests, including Miss Ohio USA, Miss Teen All-American, Miss USA (was first runner-up in 1986 to Christy Fitchner of Texas), and Miss World 1986 (as "Miss United States World", she placed sixth in a contest won by Trinidad & Tobago's Giselle Laronde.)
In the late 1980s, she went to Chicago, to pursue a modeling career as well as acting. One of her first acting projects was a television series for local cable by Gordon Lake Productions called "Chicago Force."
Berry auditioned for a role in an updated Charlie's Angels television series by producer Aaron Spelling. At the time, Spelling wanted one of the "Angels" to be an African American woman. She did not get the role (because the project never materialized) but she impressed Spelling with her skills, who encouraged her to continue perfecting her craft.
In 1989, Berry landed the role of brainy Emily Franklin in the short-lived ABC television series Living Dolls (a spin-off of Who's the Boss?). Her breakthrough feature film role was in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever in which she played a drug addict named Vivian. Her first co-starring role was in the film Strictly Business. Another early role Berry played was the villain/friend in the Flintstones movie as "Sharon Stone", in a part rumored to have been intended for Sharon Stone (Berry would later co-star alongside Stone in Catwoman). In 1996, she played the role of Sandra Beecher in Race the Sun, which was based on a true story. The year before, Berry really caught the public's attention with her portrayal as a female biracial slave in the TV adaption of Queen: The Story of an American Family, by Alex Haley.
Halle Berry is also known by many comic book fans for her portrayal of the regal mutant Storm in the movie adaptation of the popular comic book series X-Men (2000) and its successful sequels X2: X-Men United (2003) and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006).
In late 2001, Berry appeared as Leticia Musgrove, the wife of an executed murderer, in the film Monster's Ball. The role earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress.
As Bond Girl Jinx in 2002's Die Another Day she famously re-created the scene from Dr. No, bursting from the surf - scantily clad - to be greeted by James Bond, as Ursula Andress did 40 years earlier.
In late 2003, Berry starred in the psychological thriller Gothika opposite Charles S. Dutton, which was the first film that she "carried," i.e., her role was the most important one in the film. Her next lead role was in the film Catwoman, for which she was awarded a "worst actress" Razzie award in 2005, which she actually accepted in person with a sense of humour and recognition that "to be at the top, you must experience the rock bottom".
She has recently wrapped (2006) filming the thriller Perfect Stranger with Bruce Willis and is next set to star in Things We Lost in the Fire with Benicio Del Toro.
Halle Berry is also making a transition to behind the scenes work in film and television. She is working with author Angela Nissel to executive produce an HBO comedy series based on Nissel's two memoirs, The Broke Diaries and Mixed: My Life in Black and White.
Halle Berry has served many years as the face of Revlon cosmetics and was recently named the new face of Versace. She is featured in Maxim magazine's Girls of Maxim gallery. She is also one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, commanding $14 million each for Gothika and Catwoman.
Berry has been married twice. Her first marriage in 1992 to pro baseball player David Justice ended in a 1996 divorce due to alleged infidelity and incompatibility. Her second marriage in 2001 to musician Eric Benét has resulted in a 2004 separation (and 2005 divorce) allegedly due to Benét's infidelity. In 2004, after their separation, Berry stated "I want love, and I will find it, hopefully".
As of 2006, she is currently dating Canadian model Gabriel Aubry, who is nine years her junior. The couple met at a Versace photoshoot. After six months with Aubry, she stated in an interview "I'm really happy in my personal life, which is a novelty to me. You know I'm not the girl that has the best relationships".
Halle Berry recently revealed to Extra that she plans to adopt children. "I will adopt if it doesn't happen for me naturally", she said. "I will definitely adopt. And I probably will adopt even if it does happen naturally". It has since been speculated that Aubry, who lived in five foster families between the ages of 3 and 18, possibly inspired Berry's interest in adoption.
When speaking on the likelyhood of future marriage, Berry stated "I want a relationship because I am a relationship oriented person. I just no longer need to do it the traditional way...That paper isn't as important as it used to be". Later, she stated "I never want to be married again. I guess you could say I have bad taste in men. But I no longer feel the need to be someone's wife. I don't feel like I need to be validated by being in a marriage."
When speaking on the subject of having her own biological child, Berry has recently indicated that she has given thought to Aubry being the father, but that it is too early for that level of commitment involving a biological child between them. She stated that they both share the same feelings against the need to be married, and she indicated this to be one of she and Aubry's many strong bonds with one another. She stated that both feel the need to commit to one person emotionally and physically, but neither feels the obligation to marry in order to make that commitment official.
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