When Halle Berry accepted her Oscar for Best Actress for her role in Monster’s Ball at the 74th Annual Academy Awards, she said, “This moment is…for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door, tonight, has been opened.”
Berry became the first black actress ever to win in the Best Actress category, and she told reporters backstage that it wasn’t as much about her as it was about the women of color before her.
“I hope this city has become colorblind now. Maybe now we will start to be judged on the merit of our work and not on our skin,” she said. “I hope this meant that the glass ceiling was broken wide open.”
Shortly after Berry‘s historic win, Denzel Washington won Best Actor for his role in Training Day, becoming the first black actor to win the category since Sidney Poitier for his role in 1963’s Lilies of the Field.
Lee told students at the University of Toledo Wednesday night that he is still skeptical and is waiting to see if Hollywood will do the right thing, the Associated Press reports.
“Is this a signal that once and for all Hollywood is colorblind and we’re all on the same playing field? I don’t think so. We have to see what happens, ” he said.
“Let’s not get too hyped up. Let’s not go crazy and think we’ve been delivered because of what happened. When Sidney won for Lilies of the Field, people probably felt the same way and it was another 40 years until Denzel won.”
Lee, who directed She’s Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X and Summer of Sam, added that the problem lies with the film industry’s gatekeepers–directors and studio executives–who also have to be people of color.
Lee‘s 2001 A Huey P. Newton Story earned him a Peabody Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in broadcasting and cable. The film, a portrait of the complex co-founder of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, captures the turbulence of the 1960s.
In February, Kmart launched an advertising campaign at an estimated cost of about $40 million featuring a series of television commercials directed by Lee.