The Heartbreaking True Story Of Halle Berry

There's no one quite like Halle Berry. A household name with an illustrious career that spans decades, she's a trailblazer in every sense of the word. Berry was the first Black woman to win an Oscar for best actress and the first Black woman to represent the U.S. in the Miss World Pageant. She has gone from an onscreen bombshell to a powerful voice behind the scenes through her work as a producer and director.

But don't let her highlight reel fool you. Not everything has been sunshine and rainbows in this star's life. Like anyone, she's gone through her fair share of struggles, including failed marriages, lawsuits, and health scares. "I get really frustrated when people think because I look a certain way that I haven't had any of those real-life experiences because I absolutely have," the Academy Award winner said in an interview with The New York Times.

Halle Berry was a victim of domestic violence

"There's lots of abuse in my childhood. I grew up with an alcoholic father that was very abusive, both verbally, emotionally, physically," Halle Berry shared on NPR. At the age of five, she had already witnessed her father physically assaulting her mother. In 2015, she opened up about this experience at that year's Unite4:Humanity event, saying, "I'm a victim of domestic violence. I wasn't married to a man that beat me up, but my mother was." 

The Oscar winner recalled the experience of seeing her mother get beaten up "day after day." During one instance, her mother had to get stitches in the back of her head as a result of getting hit with a wine bottle. "What my mother did is she stayed far too long, and her children, my sister, and I, saw far too much. And I've suffered the damage of being a child of domestic violence." 

Her life experience is also why she volunteers for Jenesse, a nonprofit organization that helps victims of domestic violence. "That's what connects me to this organization. I have an understanding, a knowing. I feel like I have something that I can impart to these women," Berry said at the Jenesse Center's Imagine Event.  

She was bullied for being biracial

Halle Berry and her sister Heidi Berry grew up in Cleveland's inner city for most of their lives. This was until their mother, Judith Ann Hawkins, decided they should relocate to the suburbs for safety reasons. "[S]he was so horrified by what she saw at the school — the violence," Berry shared in a 2017 interview with Jess Cagle on People. "While we got taken out of 'imminent danger,' we also got taken out of what was familiar to us, and all of a sudden we were in an all-white school with all-white kids, like three out of 2,500 students," she explained. Berry and her sister were referred to as "Oreos" and "zebras" because their mother was white and their father was Black. This meant they bore "the brunt of a lot of jokes."

This fish-out-of-water experience made her quite insecure at the time, and Berry admittedly tried her best to fit in by overachieving. "I was Miss Everything — cheerleader, student senator, on the newspaper, the honor roll, you name it," Berry told the The New York Times. But things changed on prom night when she was accused of cheating to win the title of prom queen. "I had worked so hard to be accepted, but when it came to being a standard of beauty for the school, they didn't want me," she said. Instead of winning prom queen that night, she was forced to share the title with the first runner-up, a blue-eyed blonde. 

She had a tough start in Hollywood

Growing up, Halle Berry didn't see acting in the cards for herself until her improv mentor told her to give it a try. She moved to New York City with some money saved up from modeling jobs; however, she quickly learned it wouldn't be enough for the big city. "Three months later, I was out of my cash, " Berry recalled in an interview with People. At one point, she lived in a homeless shelter while trying to make ends meet. In a pinch, she reached out to her mother who told her to "figure it out." Berry stopped speaking to her mom for a year afterward, but she understood the decision in retrospect.

Aside from some financial issues, it was difficult to book a job in Hollywood. "When I started 30 years ago, there were not nearly the opportunities that Black women get to enjoy and experience today. I was literally struggling to find work," Berry told Vanity Fair in 2021.

Despite the hardships, quitting was never the answer for Berry. "Giving up was never an option, it was to prove to her [mother] and everybody else. It took me back to my high school years. You say I can't? Watch me. I'm going to figure this out," said the Oscar winner. And figure it out she did; eventually, she landed jobs as a waitress and a bartender, and then, her acting career took off.

Halle Berry was involved in a hit-and-run accident

Halle Berry was involved in a hit-and-run accident, allegedly running a red light in West Hollywood and driving off after colliding with another car. The driver of the other car, Hetal Raythatha, later sued Berry for negligence and also accused the actress of driving under the influence during the incident. However, the police refuted this claim, stating that there were no traces of alcohol or drugs in Berry's system during the crash.

"My car just spun around ... I saw that my wrist was broken. I couldn't move," Raythatha explained to People. On the other hand, in an interview with Diane Sawyer on "20/20," Berry claimed she had no recall of the incident, stating she "would never leave someone injured, even if it were an accident that I weren't involved in."

Both Berry and Raythatha suffered injuries from the incident. The former required stitches in the forehead, while the latter broke her wrist along with other injuries. Also, Raythatha's car was completely totaled after the incident.

When the court proceedings were over, Berry entered a no-contest plea and was sentenced to three years of probation, along with a $13,500 fine and 200 hours of community service.

She continued to struggle in Hollywood even after winning an Oscar in 2002

Halle Berry has had a very remarkable career. In 2002, she won an Oscar for her role in the 2001 movie "Monster's Ball." This made her the first-ever Black woman to win an Oscar for best actress. "This moment is so much bigger than me," Berry said in her acceptance speech. "This is ... for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened." 

However, at the time of this writing, she is still the only Black woman who has won an Oscar for best actress. "To sit here almost 15 years later, and knowing that another woman of color has not walked through that door, is heartbreaking ... I thought that moment was bigger than me. It's heartbreaking to start to think maybe it wasn't" Berry told Teen Vogue's Elaine Welteroth in 2017.

Winning an Oscar didn't give her a major career trajectory as she had hoped. Berry still needed to put in the work regardless. As she explained in a 2021 cover story for Entertainment Weekly, "When you have a historic win like that, you think, 'Oh, this is going to fundamentally change.' It did fundamentally change me, but it didn't change my place in the business overnight. I still had to go back to work. I still had to try to fight to make a way out of no way."

Halle Berry has a ruptured eardrum due to an abusive ex-boyfriend

Back in the day, one of Halle Berry's ex-boyfriends hit her so hard that she lost 80% of her hearing in her left eardrum. "I left so fast there were skid marks. It never happened to me before — or since," Berry told People. Though Berry has been candid about the experience to the press, she has never confirmed who exactly it was.

For years, it was believed to be her first husband, professional baseball player David Justice. He kept quiet on the matter until 2015, during the media coverage of Berry's third divorce. He tweeted, "Reading the latest Halle Berry Reports, it wasn't me who hit Halle causing the ear damage. Halle has never said that I hit her." Justice claims that he stayed quiet for years about the matter due to the disadvantages he would have with the press. Berry had a whole team behind her, while Justice didn't even have a publicist at the time. "I thought I was taking the high road, and as a result, a lot of stuff was said about me, and because I didn't say anything back, a lot of people thought it must've been true," Justice explained to People.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support on their website.

She's had a couple of tumultuous relationships in the past

Three failed marriages aren't easy to go through, especially when you have the whole world watching you. First off was her split from husband David Justice in 1997. Despite the heartache, Berry tried to keep an open mind, "As long as I can learn something from it, then all the pain will be worth it," Berry told People.

Another particularly difficult and highly publicized split followed with the divorce of her second husband, Eric Benét. Fresh from an Oscar win, Berry felt like she "had it all" until an article was released regarding Benét's infidelity. Berry later came to find that it wasn't an isolated occurrence and that Benét had in fact been involved with multiple women. They were married from 2001 to 2003, and their divorce was finalized in 2005.

After her third divorce, from third husband Olivier Martinez, she learned the joy of being single. "I think this is proving to be a really valuable time. ... I learned that I can be alone and that's been a big lesson for me," she told People. That time alone must've paid off because she is now enjoying her time with a new love interest, Van Hunt, with whom she reconnected during the pandemic. "I wish I had met him sooner so I could have loved him longer. I just feel fulfilled," Berry told Women's Health in 2021.

Halle Berry once attempted to take her own life

Following her separation from her first husband, former professional baseball player David Justice, Halle Berry went through a depression. Divorce is definitely a difficult experience, and Berry's depression in the aftermath of her first almost led her to take her own life.

In 2007, she opened up about this in an interview with Parade. "I was sitting in my car, and I knew the gas was coming, when I had an image of my mother finding me. She sacrificed so much for her children, and to end my life would be an incredibly selfish thing to do," Berry shared. The divorce damaged her self-esteem. "My sense of worth was so low. I had to reprogram myself to see the good in me. Because someone didn't love me didn't mean I was unlovable. I promised myself I would never be a coward again."

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat

She had a difficult custody battle with ex-husband Gabriel Aubry

"I have learned to deal with three failed marriages, which has not been easy, especially when there are children involved," Halle Berry said at Entrepreneur magazine's 2017 City Summit and Gala. "I've often felt guilty and responsible. I've suffered a lot of pain and anguish."

Berry and her then-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry welcomed their first child, Nahla Ariela Aubry, in March 2008. The couple never married and officially split in 2010. "We have always been friends, we're still friends, we love each other very much, and we both share the love of our lives," the "X-Men" star told Vogue. "And we are both 100% committed to being the best parents we can be. And while it was not a love connection for us, he was absolutely the right person to have this child with because she is going to have an amazing father."

What started as an amicable breakup then turned into a highly publicized custody battle that even involved a fistfight between Berry's then-fiancé Oliver Martinez and Aubry. In 2012, Berry got engaged to Olivier Martinez, and with this, they had planned on relocating to Paris, bringing Nahla along with them. Berry was denied her request to relocate their daughter to Paris by the family court unless Nahla's father joined them.

She often gets injured on set

Halle Berry is no stranger to on-set injuries. She's hit her head on multiple occasions during filming — once on set lights and another time on concrete — and she's also broken a lot of bones in the process. Regardless, she has done and continues to do a lot of her own stunts.

In 2002, while filming "Die Another Day," Bond girl Berry made a quick detour to the hospital to treat an eye injury due to a stunt explosion. Smoke grenade debris landed in her eye and required removal. The injury was temporary, and she was able to resume work shortly after being treated. It wasn't the only unfortunate thing to happen on set, though. She also choked on a fig during an intimate scene with Pierce Brosnan. Instead of intimacy, she got a Heimlich instead. "I was supposed to be all sexy and, like, trying to seduce him with a fig. And then I end up choking on it," Berry laughed as she recalled the incident in a "Tonight Show" interview with Jimmy Fallon.

But even then, she has had her fair share of on-set mishaps that weren't necessarily stunt related. A year before her eye injury on the James Bond film, Berry's arm was injured while shooting a scene for the film "Gothika." As Berry explained the incident in an interview with Talk Talk, "Robert Downey twisted my arm and it broke. It was a freak accident, but we're good friends."

She is diagnosed with diabetes

In 1989, Halle Berry made her TV debut on the ABC sitcom "Living Dolls." One day during taping, she collapsed and slipped into a coma for a week. She was later diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 22. "It was a moment I'll never forget. I found myself in a coma due to my diabetes," Berry wrote on her website, Rē•spin.

Her condition had some effect on her career, but she continued to persevere and take on physically challenging roles. Berry agreed to be in "John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum" before she even read the script. She saw it as a chance to challenge herself and to prove what she could do regardless of her age. Taking the role required intensive training. "My body had to do things that I had never done before. I learned three different kinds of martial arts. It was nonstop, six months, eight hours a day," Berry shared in an interview on Today. "I broke some ribs during training. I had broken ribs probably for five weeks and didn't really realize it."

She was confused about how the injury occurred, "I couldn't understand why this was happening to me when I was really physically fit," the "John Wick" star explained in an interview with Variety. Due to the nature of the injury, she thought it could possibly be bone cancer or early osteoporosis, but it was eventually linked to her diabetes.