Oscar 2001: Speeches–Halle Berry

In the 2002 Oscar show, Halle Berry, winner of Best Actress for Monster’s Ball, stole the show with her teary, heartfelt acceptance speech.

The first black woman to have ever received the lead Oscar, Berry said: “This moment is so much bigger than me,” stammered Berry, overcome with emotion onstage. “This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It’s for the women who stand behind me–Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox–and it’s for every nameless, faceless women of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.”

Berry’s weepy, over-the-top performance surprised the viewers, though none more than she herself. “I wasn’t in my right head all night,” she later said, “It was like I was out of my body –but the next morning, when I saw it on tape, I thought, “Oh, my God! I’m out of control.'” Berry confessed “I had a breakdown, that’s what I did. I couldn’t utter a word. I felt like a babling idiot.” Still, Berry has no regrets. “I spoke form the heart and forced a lot of people to think,” she added, “which always feels good.”