Confessions of a Bond Girl: John Braithwaite on the Career and "Good Fortune" of Halle Berry, the First Black Actress to Win an Oscar Last Year for a Major Role. (the Arts)

Article excerpt

Halle Berry, the first black (or African-American) woman to play the "James Bond girl" in the latest Bond movie, Die Another Day, has caused many eyebrows to be raised in recent weeks. The colour of her skin has even become an issue. Some say she is not black or "she is only black when it suits her"--comments that Halle has rejected as "quite unfortunate and uninformed".

Last March, at the 74th Academy Awards, Halle became the first black woman to win an Oscar for "best performance by an actress in a leading role" (in the film, Monster Ball). If you consider that it took 74 Academy Awards ceremonies to recognise a black actress for such a high honour, you begin to understand the worth and capabilities of Halle and why she has become the "Bond girl", beating the usual blondes to the role.

Her character in Die Another Day sports the unlikely name of jinx. First and foremost, it is a part that for once puts a woman on an even keel with the martini-sipping Mr Bond--an interesting turn of events for the franchise as it celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Jinx is a secret agent who plays an integral part in a plot that pushes the macho, yet debonair, Mr Bond and his fans into uncharted territory.

This leads us to the second and most ironic facet of Jinx's name. Berry's career path over the past year has been filled with nothing but pure gold and pure good luck. Many black women have been in Bond movies but never were given a major role to play. They were just in the background or were only in a fight scene or something. …