Halle Berry is living proof that some models can act. Beauty queen, desired model and finally successful actress, Berry was the first African American woman to win the Best Actress Oscar for her part in ‘Monsters Ball’ - the story of a woman who has an affair with a racist ex-jailer who oversaw the execution of her husband.
Born to an African American father and a white mother on 14 August 1966, Berry had difficulty as a child, fitting neither in the black community nor the white. She capitalised on her looks on the catwalk as a young teenager, and later turned to professional modelling.
The TV series 'Living Dolls' (1989) was her first acting job and from there she moved on to 'Knots Landing' (1991). As a TV actress, Berry gained the reputation of living her roles - she would continue in character for the entire duration of a shoot, regardless of whether the cameras were rolling or not.
Her method worked well for her first film, Spike Lee's 'Jungle Fever (1991), when she refused to bathe for days before starting to act the role of a crack addict. The film announced the arrival of a formidable actress who was immediately rewarded with two nods - the nominations for Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress and for Most Promising Actress.
Flitting between comic and hard-hitting roles, Berry established a healthy rapport with her audience and the critics, winning her considerable acclaim in the late 1990s. A number of roles in movies including 'The Last Boy Scout', 'The Flintstones', 'Losing Isaiah', 'The Rich Man's Wife' and 'Why Do Fools Fall in Love' followed before she gained the attention of critics once more in a television film directed by Martha Coolidge. 1999's 'Introducing Dorothy Dandridge' earned Berry a Primetime Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award and her second NAACP Image Award.
Less commended was her part opposite John Travolta in the terrible thriller 'Swordfish'. The film sold itself as the first to reveal Berry's breasts, and did little to recommend her as a serious actress. Director Marc Forster, undeterred by this blip, went on to cast Berry in 'Monster's Ball', a role that brilliantly revealed an inner turmoil and brought the actress to the brink of superstardom.
Berry's crowning glory came in 2001 when her part in the film not only catapulted her into history books as the first African American woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress, but won her several other accolades and nominations. These included the Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA and Golden Globe awards for best actress.
Such achievement deserved even more rewards and 2002 delivered one when she became a Bond Girl in 'Die Another Day' alongside Pierce Brosnan. However, her appearance in 'Catwoman' (2004) landed her a less than desired Razzie Award for Worst Actress and, being "a good loser", she actually turned up to receive it.
One of her most notable roles in recent years is the mutant Storm, who can manipulate the weather, in the 'X-Men' film franchise. She first played this character in 2000's 'X-Men', followed by 'X2' in 2003 and 'X-Men: The Last Stand' in 2006.
She has also acted in the thriller 'Gothika' with Robert Downey JR in 2003. Berry then voiced the character Cappy in the animated 'Robots' in 2005. This was followed by 'Perfect Stranger' and 'Things We Lost In The Fire' in 2007. After this she took a three-year sabbatical as she gave birth to her daughter Nahla Ariela Aubry on 16 March 2008. She took some time out to focus on bringing up her child with Gabriel Aubry.
Berry returned to film in 2010 with a role in 'Frankie & Alice', which was followed by a role in 'New Year's Eve' in 2011. In 2012, she appeared in 'Dark Tide' and 'Cloud Atlas' which also starred Tom Hanks, Ben Whishaw and Hugh Grant. Her latest films have included 'The Call' (2013) and 'X-Men: Days Of Future Past' (2014).
Her personal life has been mixed thanks to two failed marriages to David Justice between 1992 and 1997 and musician Eric Benét from 2001 to 2005. She was also involved with Gabriel Aubry, who was her partner from 2005 to 2010 and she is currently seeing Olivier Martinez. In March 2012, the French actor confirmed his engagement to Berry - they married in June 2013 and had a child, Maceo, in October 2013.