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“In the year 2000, I had the idea of creating a fan website,” she said. “I knew back then, almost 18 years ago, that the future for artists like myself was to find ways we could connect one-on-one with our fans. To have a real conversation for them to get to know me in a different way than the media was presenting me.”
That iteration of the site was a fan club because it was before the rise of social media. The site ultimately became too burdensome to run, so she shut it down after four years, Berry explained.
The new site will be operated in collaboration with media management company the Braintrust and will contain fashion, beauty, home and parenting advice — what the star termed “an inclusive world of curation” – as well as discussion groups.
“What makes America great is that we have the right to have an opinion, we have the right to agree to disagree, but I think we do need a place today for people to come together and have real conversation,” said Berry, who referenced how divided the U.S. has been since the presidential election. “Based on where we are now with this great divide in our country, and it’s my obligation as an artist, to start providing that forum for people to talk things out and bring us a little bit closer.”
The site will be “very cinematic,” according to Berry, who said she is “obsessed” with VR and plans to have short films that will allow fans to see inside her life on the site, as well as other shorts that she directs about issues that are important to her.
Berry, who has fought legal battles with paparazzi over her children, will include them in limited ways, as she has done on Instagram.
She framed the site as a way to have power over her own media profile. “Social media is empowering in many ways, but the part that is concerning for me, especially with my personal brand, is that that power can be misused,” she said, adding that fan photos lead to rumors that she is dating hundreds of men. “It can be a brand killer.”
“People actually have the power to affect your brand in this day and age, and I have little control over it, and that’s the frustrating part,” she said. The site will be a way for her to control the narrative and interact with her fans “face-to-face,” she added.
During the panel she also referred to an app, but did not provide further clarification. The panel was sponsored by MasterCard, but Berry did not say whether the site would have a commerce aspect like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James or Blake Lively’s now-defunct Preserve.
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