Representation matters

Halle Berry pulls out of playing trans role following backlash

 

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Halle Berry has announced that she is no longer considering playing a trans man in an upcoming movie project.

In an Instagram Live interview with hairstylist Christen Brown over the weekend, the Oscar-winning actress said that among her upcoming projects, she was potentially set to play the role of a trans man.

Related: JK Rowling goes on Twitter tirade comparing gender transition to conversion therapy

“[The film is about] a character where the woman is a trans character, so she’s a woman that transitioned into a man,” said Berry. “She’s a character in a project I love that I might be doing.”

The project was apparently pitched to Berry some time ago but has been put on hold while she concentrated on her directorial debut, Bruised, in which she plays a disgraced MMA fighter.

The interview was screen-captured and reposted on Twitter.

The announcement was met with concern by many LGBTQ advocates who believe trans performers should be used for trans roles. Some criticized Berry for talking about the role in terms of being a woman’s story and using ‘she’ pronouns about the character.

On Monday night, Berry posted a message to social media to say that she had listened to the reaction and decided not to take 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. 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,” Berry said on Twitter.

“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.”

Among those to welcome the announcement was GLAAD, which tweeted, “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.”

Disclosure, now on Netflix, looks at the history of trans representation on screen.

Related: Laverne Cox spills on Bugs Bunny and her new film ‘Disclosure’

Also welcoming the announcement was Brian Michael Smith. The actor stars on 9-1-1-Lone Star and is the first trans man actor to get a recurring lead role on a mainstream US TV show.

“Thank you for hearing us and for taking the time to listen and understand our concerns,” tweeted Smith to Berry. “Furthermore, I appreciate your vow to take action and use your platform to promote better representation and opportunities for marginalized artists on both sides of the lens.”