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Halle Berry has pulled out of the running to play a transgender character in an upcoming untitled film following a social media backlash.
Over the weekend, during an Instagram Live interview, the Oscar-winning actress said she would “probably” play a transgender man in her next film role. “[The film is about] a character where the woman is a trans character, so she’s a woman that transitioned into a man,” Berry said in the interview with hairstylist Christin Brown. “She’s a character in a project I love that I might be doing.”
The news was met with a wave of crticism on social media with people highlighting the ongoing problem in Hollywood of a cisgender actor playing a transgender person. There was also widespread criticism of Berry repeatedly misgendering the character she was set to play during the interview.
On Monday night, Berry apologized and tweeted that she was no longer considering 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,” she wrote on Twitter.
She added: “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.”
Berry’s decision to pull out was met with praise from GLAAD, with the organization tweeting, “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.”
Hollywood has a history of cisgender actors playing transgender characters, recently and notably including Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club and Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl, however, campaigners say this trend takes roles from trans actors and also perpetuates dangerous stereotypes. In 2018, Scarlett Johansson dropped out of Rub & Tug, the movie that would have seen her play a transgender man, after a similar backlash to the one that Berry faced.
— Halle Berry (@halleberry) July 7, 2020
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