She was the 1986 Miss USA first runner-up to Christy Fichtner of Texas.In the Miss USA 1986 pageant interview competition, she said she hoped to become an entertainer or to have something to do with the media.
She appeared as Leticia Musgrove, the troubled wife of an executed murderer (Sean Combs), in the 2001 feature film Monster's Ball.
Her performance was awarded the National Board of Review and the Screen Actors Guild best-actress prizes; in an interesting coincidence she became the first woman of color to win the Academy Award for Best Actress (earlier in her career, she portrayed Dorothy Dandridge, the first African American to be nominated for Best Actress, and who was born at the same hospital as Berry, in Cleveland, Ohio).
The NAACP issued the statement: "Congratulations to Halle Berry and Denzel Washington for giving us hope and making us proud.
If this is a sign that Hollywood is finally ready to give opportunity and judge performance based on skill and not on skin color then it is a good thing." This role generated controversy.
She starred alongside Natalie Deselle Reid in the 1997 comedy film B*A*P*S.
In 1998, Berry received praise for her role in Bulworth as an intelligent woman raised by activists who gives a politician (Warren Beatty) a new lease on life.She then appeared in the X-Men sequels, X2 (2003) and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006).In the 2010s, she appeared in movies such as the science fiction film Cloud Atlas (2012), the crime thriller The Call (2013) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014).Berry's first weeks in New York were less than auspicious: She slept in a homeless shelter and then in a YMCA".Later in 1989, her situation improved and she was cast in the role of model Emily Franklin in the short-lived ABC television series Living Dolls, which was shot in New York and was a spin-off of the hit series Who's the Boss? That same year, Berry had her first co-starring role in Strictly Business.She portrayed Sandra Beecher in Race the Sun (1996), which was based on a true story, shot in Australia, and co-starred alongside Kurt Russell in Executive Decision.