This week marks the annual Sundance Film Festival but, unlike years gone by, the anticipated 2021 lineup is absent of glitzy red carpet fashion and screening events. What has transpired, however, is a series of meaningful conversations and insightful panels. This past weekend saw the Hollywood Foreign Press Association present “Women Breaking Barriers: An Industry Shift,” featuring Halle Berry and Zendaya.
Berry has made her directorial debut and stars in the upcoming Netflix sports film, Bruised. When speaking on the panel, which also featured a cameo from Zendaya, Berry had nothing but praise for the 24-year-old.
“At 24, that she can have an idea and go get it done and get enough support behind her to get that done and to give her the power and to keep the creativity, I think that says so much for where we have gotten and that is what makes me want to keep fighting, because of Zendaya, at 24, a Black woman can do that,” said Berry.
It comes just days after Zendaya’s forthcoming film Malcolm & Marie was criticized for the 12-year age gap between the actress and her co-star John David Washington. While some argue it speaks to a wider casting issue in Hollywood, Berry said during the panel that the project, “is proof-positive that things are changing and I couldn’t be prouder and I know you probably can’t be prouder of yourself, which is most important.”
Zendaya responded, “I’ve been lucky enough to work with men who have respected my power, and encouraged it, with that being Sam [Levinson] and obviously John [David Washington],” the Euphoria star said. “I’ve been lucky to be in those experiences that are collaborative and open to what the world should be looking like.”
She continued, “Had it not been for the women before me, I wouldn’t be in this position.”
Earlier in the conversation, Berry is taking steps to challenge her own 7-year-old son, Maceo Martinez, on rethinking gender stereotypes. “I have a 7-year-old son, and I have realized what my job is in raising him. If we want to have a future that’s different, that is where it starts,” the 54-year-old revealed.
The panel also featured conversations led by HFPA members, Elisabeth Sereda and Silvia Bizio, as well as Robin Wright, Andra Day, and Sia.
Starring the likes of Adan Canto and Stephen McKinley Henderson, Bruised follows a former MMA fighter struggling to regain custody of her son and restart her athletic career.