Halle Berry has stepped away from the opportunity to play a transgender man after facing a backlash.
The Oscar-winning actress came under fire when she shared her excitement about the potential role in an upcoming film.
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“I’m thinking of [playing] a character where the woman is a trans character, so she’s a woman that transitioned into a man,” Berry said.
“I want to experience that world,” she added. “I want to understand that world.”
Hi @halleberry, we heard you're considering playing a trans man in your next project. We ask that you please watch @Disclosure_Doc on @netflix first to understand how cis actors like yourself acting in trans roles has major cultural consequences offscreen. #DisclosureNetflix— Disclosure Documentary (@Disclosure_Doc) July 6, 2020
The Monster’s Ball star was called out, as a cis woman, for considering the part, but also for misgendering the character during the Instagram Live chat.
A number of critics spoke up on social media, urging 53-year-old Berry to cut ties with the project.
Including the official Twitter account for acclaimed Netflix documentary Disclosure, about the representation – or, indeed, misrepresentation – of trans people in the media.
“Hi Halle Berry, we heard you’re considering playing a trans man in your next project,” they wrote. “We ask that you please watch Disclosure on Netflix first to understand how cis actors like yourself acting in trans roles has major cultural consequences offscreen.”
Disclosure director Sam Feder added: “please consider watching @Disclosure_Doc before performing transness.”
Berry took the criticism on board and, on Monday night, confirmed she had decided not to pursue the role.
“Over the weekend I had the opportunity to discuss my consideration of an upcoming role as a transgender man, and I’d like to apologize for those remarks,” she tweeted. “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 continued, “I am grateful for the guidance and critical conversation over the past few days and 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.”
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
GLAAD applauded her efforts: “We are pleased that @halleberry listened to the concerns of transgender people and learned from them. Other powerful people should do the same.”
Berry’s apology was also gratefully received by the Disclosure account, who thanked her “for listening and learning.”
Two years ago, Scarlett Johansson sparked a similar outcry when she was set to portray a transgender man in mob drama Rub & Tug.