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Halle Berry (pronounced /ˈhæli ˈbɛri/; born August 14, 1966) is an American actress, former fashion model, and beauty queen. Berry received an Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG, and an NAACP Image Award for Introducing Dorothy Dandridge and won an Academy Award for Best Actress and was also nominated for a BAFTA Award in 2001 for her performance in Monster's Ball, becoming the first and, as of 2009, only woman of African American descent to have won the award for Best Actress. She is one of the most highly paid actresses in Hollywood and also a Revlon spokeswoman. She has also been involved in the production side of several of her films.
Before becoming an actress, Berry entered several beauty contests, finishing runner-up in the Miss USA (1986), and coming in 6th place in the Miss World Pageant in 1986. Her breakthrough feature film role was in the 1991 Jungle Fever. This led to roles in The Flintstones (1994), Bulworth (1998), X-Men (2000) and its sequels, and as Bond Girl Jinx in Die Another Day (2002). She also won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress in 2005 for Catwoman and accepted the award in person.
Divorced from baseball player David Justice and musician Eric Benét, Berry dated French-Canadian model Gabriel Aubry from November 2005, through April, 2010. Their daughter, Nahla Ariela Aubry, was born on March 16, 2008.
Berry was born Maria Halle Berry, though her name was legally changed to Halle Maria Berry in 1971. Berry's parents selected her middle name from Halle's Department Store, which was then a local landmark in her birthplace of Cleveland, Ohio. Her mother, Judith Ann (née Hawkins), who is Caucasian, was a psychiatric nurse. Her father, Jerome Jesse Berry, was an African American hospital attendant in the same psychiatric ward where her mother worked; he later became a bus driver. Berry's maternal grandmother, Nellie Dicken, was born in Sawley, Derbyshire, England, while her maternal grandfather, Earl Ellsworth Hawkins, was born in Ohio. Berry's parents divorced when she was four years old; she and her older sister Heidi were raised exclusively by her mother. Berry has said in published reports that she has been estranged from her father since her childhood, noting in 1992, "I haven't heard from him since [he left]. Maybe he's not alive."
Berry graduated from Bedford High School, afterward working in the children's department at Higbee's Department store. She then studied at Cuyahoga Community College. In the 1980s, she entered several beauty contests, winning Miss Teen All-American in 1985 and Miss Ohio USA in 1986. She was the 1986 Miss USA first runner-up to Christy Fichtner of Texas. In the Miss USA 1986 pageant interview competition, she said she hoped to become an entertainer or to have something to do with the media. Her interview was awarded the highest score by the judges. She was the first African-American Miss World entrant in 1986, where she finished sixth and Trinidad and Tobago's Giselle Laronde was crowned Miss World.
Berry has been married twice. Her first marriage was to former baseball player David Justice, shortly after midnight on January 1, 1993. The couple separated in 1996 and their divorce was finalized in 1997. Justice played with the Atlanta Braves and experienced a measure of fame as the team rose to prominence in the early 1990s. The couple found it difficult to maintain their relationship while he was playing baseball and she was filming elsewhere. Berry has stated publicly that she was so depressed after her breakup with Justice that she considered taking her own life, but she could not bear the thought of her mother finding her body.
Berry's second marriage was to musician Eric Benét. They met in 1997 and married in early 2001 on a beach in Santa Barbara. Berry credited Benét with support after she was involved in a February 2000 traffic collision, in which she suffered a concussion and left the scene of the accident before the police arrived. Some in the media complained that her misdemeanor hit and run charge was preferential treatment; she had also been the driver in an alleged hit and run incident three years earlier in which no charges were filed. The incident became fodder for comedians. Berry pled no contest, did community service, paid a fine and was placed on three years' probation. A civil lawsuit was settled out of court.
The couple separated in 2003. After the separation, Berry stated, "I want love, and I will find it, hopefully." While married to Benét, Berry adopted his daughter, India. The divorce was finalized in January 2005.
Berry has been a victim of domestic violence, and now works to help other victims. In 2005, she said, "Domestic violence is something I've known about since I was a child. My mother was a victim of it. Early on in my life I made choices, and I chose men that were abusive because that was what I knew growing up...First time it happened, I knew enough to keep moving."
In November 2005, Berry began dating French-Canadian supermodel Gabriel Aubry, nine years her junior. The couple met at a Versace photoshoot. After six months with Aubry, she stated in an interview, "I'm really happy in my personal life, which is a novelty to me. You know, I'm not the girl that has the best relationships."
At one point, Berry had indicated that she planned to adopt children, but her experience playing a mother in Things We Lost In The Fire opened her mind to the possibility of motherhood. After initially denying rumors, she confirmed in September 2007 that she was three months pregnant. Berry gave birth to a girl named Nahla Ariela Aubry on March 16, 2008, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Nahla means "honeybee" in Arabic; Ariela is Hebrew for "lion for God". Berry hired security guards after receiving racist threats to her unborn baby from a stalker, who said her child will be "cut into hundreds of pieces".
At one time, Berry indicated that she did not intend to marry again, insisting the couple's life was already complete without the need for a marriage. She stated that she hoped to have a second child right away. Aubry told In Touch magazine, "I'd like Nahla to have a sibling in 2009."
On April 30, 2010, it was reported that Berry and Aubry had separated. Berry's representative confirmed their relationship had ended a few days later by saying, "They have been split for some time, but remain friends and committed parents to their daughter." They worked out a financial and 50/50 custody deal with a family lawyer, but TMZ reported that it is not final. The source said, "As much as it can be it's been an amicable split. They both traveled a lot for work anyway, so they were used to spending time apart for long periods, but I think Halle has taken it pretty badly; she truly loved Gabriel and thought she had found the one."