Halle Berry detailed the cycles of abuse and generational trauma in her family and also described how she ultimately came to a place that was “full of love” for her late father
Halle Berry is opening up about the more painful parts of her childhood.
The Oscar winner, 55, appeared on Wednesday’s episode of NPR’s Fresh Air podcast, where she talked about the abusive relationships depicted in her recent directorial debut Bruised — in which she also stars — and how it relates to her own life.
“There’s lots of abuse in my childhood. I grew up with an alcoholic father that was very abusive, both verbally, emotionally, physically,” Berry said, referring to her father Jerome Jesse Berry, who died in 2003.
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Berry has spoken of her father and their troubled relationship in the past. She referred to how his alcoholism “addiction robbed us of the relationship we were meant to have” in an emotional Father’s Day Instagram post two years ago in which she also said she missed him and was “full of love” for him.
When asked about how she came to such a place of forgiveness for her father, who she said left her and her mother when she was 3 years old, the X-Men star explained Wednesday that she did go “through a lot of therapy.”
“When he died, I was given a gift of talking to a spiritual healer and someone that took me through some spiritual exercises to sort of heal my wound with my dad,” she continued, adding that it helped her see that her father was who he was “largely because of the love and the guidance he didn’t receive as a child.”
“He wasn’t born into the world an abusive, alcoholic man who was out of control. He became that by what he was and was not given; what he was exposed to and by what he wasn’t exposed to,” she said.
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Berry said she “started to look at him as an innocent little boy who got raised by an alcoholic father and a mother who was so broken herself,” and then she discovered that the trauma extended even further back.
“Going back another generation, they came from slavery, where my great-great-grandmother saw her daughters ripped away from her and the trauma that caused,” the Monster’s Ball actress described. “When I keep tracing it back, you realize that this was just generational trauma. That my father was just trying to survive. He was trying to find himself, find his manhood. And he was doing the best he could, and while he failed me and my family miserably, he really was only working with the tools he had been given.”
“And when I looked at him that way, it did make me feel full of love, and I had empathy for him. I felt sad by the life that he lived,” Berry said, adding that she “realized he was turning to alcohol as a way of numbing his experience and numbing the fact that he felt like a failure.”
“So, looking at it that way, I’m full of love for him,” she concluded.
The award-winning actress also had kind words to say about her partner Van Hunt this week, when she received the Career Achievement Award at the 4th Annual Celebration of Black Cinema & Television event on Tuesday.
“You know I finally found love this year everybody,” she said of her musician boyfriend in her acceptance speech. “Even though you all have been on this painful journey with me. You watched me fail and fail and fail. And besides directing my first movie, I also found the love of my life and I know it’s true and this is how I know it’s true.”
“Because you fail so many you know what wrong looks like. Because I failed so many times I now know what [love] really looks like,” she continued. “And so my partner is here tonight, Van, and you have supported me.”
Berry also acknowledged the significance of receiving the honor.
“WhenI started 30 years ago there were no rooms like this,” the actress noted. “Where I could go and feel affirmed and esteemed. I was often alone. I was one of the only Black people in the room. Searching for my value, searching for my worth.”
“Over 30 years later to be standing here not just as an actor but as a director. Remaining authentic and true to myself is probably one of the greatest joys of my life,” she added. “I’m so happy to share this moment with all of you.”