By Paula Escalada Medrano
Madrid, Nov 23 (EFE).- Almost two decades after becoming the first and only Black woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress, and after a roller-coaster career, Halle Berry has made her directorial debut with her Netflix film Bruised.
Berry also took on the lead role of Jackie Justice, a disgraced MMA fighter looking for redemption in the ring in the movie set for worldwide release on the streaming platform on Wednesday.
Berry sat down with Efe to explore some of the topics addressed by the movie.
QUESTION: How much of Jackie the fighter is inside of yourself?
ANSWER: A lot. That is probably why I gravitated towards a story like this for my debut. I got advice from some directors that I widely admire and what they told me was for your debut let it be a subject you love and a subject you know. So, I would say a lot of me is in this fighter.
Q: How was the experience of directing?
A: It was what I expected, hard. I knew it was going to be hard, especially because I was also acting in it, so my days were extremely long with my training and then having to go to my director job and just preparing the role as an actor as I always do. It was challenging but I really knew how hard it would be.
Q: Do you consider yourself a fighter?
A: Yes, because I’ve been fighting my whole life. As a woman of color, I’ve been fighting to be heard, to be seen, for equality, to find a place in the industry that many times, 30 years ago when I started, had no place for me really. It has changed now, thankfully, for women and people of color but when I started it was a different kind of fight so I’m very used to fighting and working hard, being told no and having to fight past that and figure out another way, and I’m used to not giving up and being tenacious.
Q: Could the movie reveal anything to women suffering abuse?
A: They can probably see their story reflected. I think mental health and abuse and domestic violence, these are issues that people don’t really want to talk about but it is real and it happens in so many communities and in so many families. It is just a bit taboo because we don’t want to act if that is happening. But it is real. And I’ve worked for domestic violence shelters for over 20 years, so I know that is real. I see it. I grew up with it. So, for me this was about putting some light in a dark place that we don’t want to talk about. It is uncomfortable to talk about but for me that was all the reason to talk about it.
Q: You said you felt compelled to direct the movie because you couldn’t find someone who shared your vision, what was that vision?
A: That vision was to be hard hitting and not stay away from the reality of this human condition. It was wanting to bring truth to the story and authenticity and show a world that may be hard to experience but also hopefully help the viewer ask themselves: ‘wow, what must it be like to live that? If I have a hard time watching it, what would it be like to be living within that situation?’ Some people that I met didn’t want to go hard in that direction, they were afraid of that, they didn’t want to bring that aspect of the story to the screen, but that was really important for me that that be brought to light in this way.
Q: It is also the story of a mother who abandons her child.
A: I don’t see her as a bad mother, even at the beginning. She was not a bad person, she was just a damaged and broken person. And I think we have to learn to have compassion for the brokenness in people and not judge people.
So, the goal is to find compassion for these people and not judge them and say you are a bad mum, these people are broken, they are fractured, they are doing the best they can and when they can survive it and find redemption and seek forgiveness and get it, then that is what life is all about. We are all trying to survive and seek forgiveness for something. None of us are perfect, right.EFE