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Halle Berry has starred in a variety of movies, from comic book films like Catwoman to dark dramas like Monster’s Ball. But fairly early on in her career, there was one project the actor insisted put the fear of God in her.

Halle Berry once starred in the HBO movie ‘Introducing Dorothy Dandridge’

Halle Berry smirking
Halle Berry | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Introducing Dorothy Dandridge was a 1999 movie based on the biographical Dorothy Dandridge by Earl Millis. Directed by Martha Coolidge and written by Shonda Rhimes, the movie starred Halle Berry as the late African-American actor. Along with her rise to stardom, the film also touched on the racism she faced while rising to stardom.

For the Oscar-winning actor, playing Dandridge was personally important as she felt audiences had lost familiarity with the late star.

“I think what initially inspired me was the fact that Dorothy had been so forgotten and that her contribution was so great and so meaningful — not only to me, but to an entire community of people,” Berry once told critics (via Deseret News).

To Berry, this was only highlighted by the fact that actors in Dandridge’s class were talked about much more.

“Her peers have become larger in their death than even in their lives,” Berry said. “And still people don’t remember who Dorothy Dandridge was.”

Halle Berry once revealed that starring in ‘Introducing Dorothy Dandridge’ put the fear of God in her

Berry could recall the exact moment when she wanted to make a movie about Dandridge. She discovered the actor after stumbling upon a project Dandridge worked on.

“When I was 19, I just happened to see Carmen Jones on TV and thought, “Why have I never seen this? Why don’t I know about her?” It became my passion to figure out what she was about and why her legacy isn’t bigger,” she once confided in an August 1999 printed edition of Movieline.

Eventually, the X-Men star acquired the rights to Dandridge’s book. But studios kept turning her project down. Years later, she eventually went to HBO, who agreed to greenlight her Dandridge movie.

“[HBO] just said, ‘Yes, we’ll take a chance.’ Then the fear of God set in,” she said.

HBO informed Berry that she would be in charge of everything about the project. And this terrified her.

“At any given moment I’d break out in a hot flash and think, ‘Oh my God, can I do it?’ I’m so used to relating to actors as my comrades, but this time I had actors coming to me saying, ‘I don’t like my trailer,’ ‘I’m not getting enough money,'” Berry explained.

The actor also confided that she’d have slight breakdowns on set before gathering her bearings.

“I tried to deal with things as diplomatically as I could, but when someone would gripe to me I’d say, ‘I’ll be right back,’ and I would literally go away, throw up, come back and say, ‘OK.’ And now that people are going to see it, I’m scared to death. Normally I could say, ‘Hey, if you don’t like it, I just did my part,’ but I had so much involvement I won’t be able to say that if people hate it,” she added.

Halle Berry felt competitive with Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson for ‘Introducing Dorothy Dandridge’


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Berry wasn’t the only person interested in making a movie about Dandridge. Pop-stars Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston were also interested in producing a film about the icon. Because of this, the Jungle Fever star admitted to feeling a bit competitive with her peers.

“I don’t know when they got passionate about it, but I’d been passionate since before Donald Bogle wrote the book that Whitney optioned and all this buzz started,” she said. “I initially wanted all of us to come together and pay tribute to her, but I quickly realized that was a fantasy. But I felt that even if they got to do it before me, I was still going to do it, even if I had no budget and had to show the finished film in people’s basements.”

She also brought up that Jackson and Houston were singers who were extremely busy in the industry. But making Dorothy was Berry’s passion 24/7.