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Halle Berry on how seeing Diahann Caroll on TV changed her

In this outtake from "American Masters: How It Feels To Be Free," actress Halle Berry talks about the television show that "rearranged her" and made her realize that she "had value," demonstrating the importance of having role models in media.

AIRED: January 18, 2021 | 0:01:57
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TRANSCRIPT

- Growing up, I really struggled

to find images of Black women,

or women that I could identify with.

Early on, I remember seeing Lena Horne in "Stormy Weather,"

I remember seeing Dorothy Dandridge in "Carmen Jones,"

and then a little after that,

I remember seeing Diahann Carroll in "Julia,"

and that just rearranged me.

Seeing Diahann Carroll being the star of a show

and playing a mother who was a nurse, who was educated,

who was beautiful, just rearranged me,

and it made me realize that I had value

and that I could turn to every week, a woman

that looked like who I would aspire to be when I grew up.

And it was very, very important,

especially because my mother was white,

so I was a Black child being raised by a white woman.

So I didn't have those images in my household.

So finding them on television and through movies

became very, very crucial for me.

Many times actors or artists get poo-pooed

because they dare to have an opinion,

as if we shouldn't have one, just because we're artists.

We're still citizens, we're still human beings,

we still live in this country,

and I think we are entitled to have our opinion.

And so I applaud those that do use their forum

and speak out, for sure.

Now, I can say what I wanna say in my own voice

when I wanna say it, and where I wanna say it,

any time of the day that I wanna say it.

And there's power in that.

And that has allowed us, I think,

made us feel more free to have these conversations,

because we can have our authentic voice.

We don't have to worry about being misquoted,

or we don't have to worry about being misunderstood.

If we're misunderstood,

we're misunderstood on our own merits.

If we've sent a confusing message to the world,

then we'll be misunderstood.

If we've been clear and concise,

and we have a point of view,

then that is also allowed to be conveyed today.

And I think, when used properly,

it's a really powerful tool.

And I'm lucky, I'm grateful, I mean, that we have it.

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