As Vogue itself points out, Halle Berry hasn’t done an interview in three years. We see photos of her, sure, walking around in matching outfits with her daughter Nahla, but since her break-up with model, boyfriend, and father of her child Gabriel Aubry — and, actually, long before — Berry has been decidedly silent. So why did she agree to appear on what is inarguably the year’s most important cover of the industry’s biggest book?
Berry used to be fairly frank with the press, something she said “helped” and allowed her to “connect” to a lot of people — but there was no impetus, no life-altering moment that led to her media reticence; she just decided to move on. Until now. From Vogue’s profile of the actress:
The only reason she is submitting now, she says, is that Vogue made her an offer she couldn’t refuse: the September cover. “What that means for a woman of color and what that means in the fashion world, what that means to pop culture, there was no way I could say, ‘No, I’m not going to be on the biggest issue of the year.'”
As the first black woman to ever win an Academy Award for Best Actress, we have no doubt she understands what her cover means. But to put it into context, Berry is the first black woman to appear on Vogue’s September cover in over 20 years. The last — and first, it should be noted — was Naomi Campbell‘s in 1989. Though this is Berry’s second cover — she snagged one in December 2002 — she is part of only a small handful of black cover stars, well, ever. According to Black Voices, there have been a total of 14 in the history of the magazine and all its international editions, while NPR tallies three for the American version — though it appears they forgot Beverly Johnson’s cover in 1974 and published their count before Michelle Obama’s in March 2009.
So, yes, it’s a big deal. A very big deal. And ideally a huge step in a much-needed direction. But while we hate to look a gift horse in the mouth — and mean absolutely no offense to Berry, who looks gorgeous — it would have been nice to see a new face. Though maybe that’s just asking too much.