Smart, strong, beautiful, and incredibly talented, actress Halle Berry is a force to be reckoned with. At 48, Halle has won every major acting award (a Golden Globe, an Emmy, and an Oscar). She even made history in 2002 as the first and only woman of African American descent to win an Oscar for a leading role in the acclaimed Monster’s Ball. Not bad for someone who got her start in the pageant world (she was First Runner Up for Miss USA in 1986). In 2013 Halle spearheaded and passed anti-paparazzi legislation aimed at protecting the children of high-profile people from aggressive photographers. Halle has also spent almost 20 years as a Revlon brand ambassador, managing to look more radiant every year. How does she do it? Her approach to beauty, aging and resisting Hollywood’s plastic surgery pressure is inspiring.
Halle Berry: Hi, Bobbi, how are you? I’ve been a fan of you and your work for a long time. Nice to meet you!
Bobbi Brown: Nice to meet you, too. That’s so nice. I’m a huge fan of your work, too. I can’t wait to talk beauty with you. First up, who is your beauty icon? Who has influenced you the most?
HB: I would have to say my beauty icon is Dorothy Dandridge. That’s someone I grew up idolizing and wanting to emulate. And being a woman of color, she was the first woman of color that I saw doing what I wanted to do and being somewhat successful at it. That I thought was just beautiful. I find attractive anybody that does beauty in more of a natural, simple way.
BB: I agree. Mine has always been Ali MacGraw. Being beautiful was all about being blonde and blue-eyed when I was growing up, and Ali was this gorgeous dark-haired, smart beauty icon.
HB: Well, I have a blonde, blue-eyed mother, so I was always looking for images for myself, which is why I loved seeing Dorothy Dandridge. I remember seeing Carmen Jones when I was around 9 years old. That spoke to me, and that always stayed with me. Like, wow, there she is. That always has been an inspiration for me.
BB: And now you are a beauty role model for so many women. How do you handle the pressure? A lot of celebrities have done way too much to change the way they look, and I think the ones who have not done anything look so amazing.
HB: It is pressure. When you see everybody around you doing it, you have those moments when you think, “To stay alive in this business, do I need to do the same thing?” I won’t lie and tell you that those things don’t cross my mind, because somebody is always suggesting it to me. “You know if you just did a little bit of this and that, lift this up, then this would be a little bit better.” It’s almost like crack that people are trying to push on you. That’s what I feel like. I just have kept reminding myself that beauty really is as beauty does, and it is not so much about my physical self. Aging is natural, and that’s going to happen to all of us. I think of those women that I thought aged so beautifully, like Lena Horn. Even how Jane Fonda is aging — I don’t know what she has or hasn’t done, but she looks beautiful as she’s going about her way. I just want to always look like myself, even if that’s an older version of myself. I think when you do too much of that cosmetic stuff, you become somebody else in a way.
BB: Every decade you almost have to stop and say, “OK, next! I don’t look like last decade. Let me look great for this decade.”
HB: We have to stop wanting to look like that decade before. We have to stop coveting that. Let it go and embrace it now and really be OK. It’s easy to say, I guess, but that’s the goal.
BB: Exactly. That’s one of my missions and why I took my job at Yahoo Beauty. So please help me with that.
HB: Yes, you need to help me with that, too!
BB: We have to remind each other. My friends have not done things, so it’s easy for me to go home and just be myself. But I’m not being photographed every day of my life. What do you do on those bad beauty days? Do you sometimes look in the mirror and think, “Oh, my God, I can’t take it!”? And what do you do?
HB: There are so many days like that! It depends on what the problem is that I’m seeing. Some days I have dark circles under my eyes, and I’m like, “Where did that come from?” Some days I notice, “Oh, my God, I aged a little bit last night. It’s happening!” What I try to do is to take it all in stride — and look in my cupboard for products. “OK, what do I have for dark circles? What do I have to moisturize my face, because my skin is looking a little dry today?” I have all kinds of products.
BB: What are some of your favorites?
HB: Right now, I’m really loving something that’s new, Revlon’s Ultra HD lipstick ($10). It’s wax-free, with this new technology. It’s lighter, the color is brighter, and it seems like it lasts longer. If you’re more of a natural kind of girl like I am, that really works well.
BB: Which is your favorite color in that product range?
HB: It’s called Revlon Ultra HD Lipstick in Camellia, and it’s very, very light. It looks like you have nice pink lips, like you don’t have anything on.
Behind the scenes with Halle Berry at Revlon’s #loveison campaign shoot.
BB: Do you even go for the bright lips? I don’t think I have ever seen a picture of you with a bright lip.
HB: I think I did when I was younger, but as I’ve gone along in life, I have found that I’m about doing up a really good eye and letting the lips look more natural. Then I don’t feel so made up. When I have big red lips, I feel like I’m made up, and I’ve never really liked that feeling.
BB: Who taught you the most about beauty?
HB: I think I’ve been just learning as I’ve been going along. I’ve kind of been experimenting and figuring out what looks good on me, what works for me, what makes me feel like me, like my best self. Seeing pictures of myself and realizing what went right and what went wrong. You know, “I’ll do that again, I’ll stick with that.”
BB: So, last question. Since it’s Valentine’s Day very soon, what would be your perfect Valentine’s Day?
HB: Here is the thing. I don’t really do Valentine’s Day.
HB: I’m like this rare woman, I don’t really subscribe too much to Valentine’s Day. That’s just honest. I’ll tell my husband, “I’d rather you make Valentine’s Day any random day in October, because you just want to tell me you love me. Not because the world tells you, ‘This is the day you’re supposed to profess your love.’ Be more original! Pick any other day.”
BB: You’re an amazing woman, Halle, and I appreciate your taking the time to talk beauty with me.
HB: I’m a big fan of yours. Anytime I go anywhere to have my makeup done, I always see Bobbi Brown.
BB: Well, thank you. I love this industry, and I love helping women with confidence and feeling good about themselves. It’s what I do. This has been a real joy for me. Thanks, Halle.
HB: Thanks so much, Bobbi.