Halle Berry is opening up about the “pain and anguish” of having three failed marriages.
“I have learned to deal with three failed marriages, which has not been easy, especially when there’s children involved,” the 50-year-old star said during a candid Q&A at the 2017 City Summit and Gala, presented by Entrepreneur magazine, at the USC Tower in Los Angeles, California, on Saturday.
“[As] women, we go into marriage thinking it’s going to last forever and that this is our prince on a shiny horse,” she continued. “That’s what fairytales taught me as a kid … and I’m kind of anti-fairytales today.”
“But we go in there with that hope, so when it falls apart it feels like a huge failure and a huge disappointment,” she added. “I’ve often felt guilty and responsible. I’ve suffered a lot of pain and anguish.”
Berry’s recent divorce from actor Olivier Martinez, with whom she has a 3-year old son, Maceo, was finalized in December. She was previously married to baseball player, David Justice, and singer, Eric Benet. The actress also has an 8-year-old daughter, Nahla, with model Gabriel Aubry.
Berry, who was the keynote speaker at the event, also shared that her heartbreak has led to many learning lessons.
“In every one of those situations, as hard -- and sometimes embarrassing -- as it was, I learned so much about myself,” she said. “All of those relationships were necessary for me. We all come here with lessons that we have to learn and those relationships provided me with lessons that got me to where I am right now. For that, I’m grateful. But it has been hard. It’s been a difficult part of my life.”
For now, the Kidnap star says she’s focused on her children.
“Right now, being mom is my most important job and I now know that everything I do, everything I say and everything I offer them is really important,” she explained. “I say lots of things, but I think what’s more important is that my children watch what I do.”
“I’m more mindful of how I live my life and what they see me do,” she continued. “If I want them to be kind, I have to show them kindness. If I want them to be curious, I have to show them my own curiosity. If I want them to be smart, I have to show that I’m continuing to learn every day. If I want them to be humble, I have to teach them how to give and care about other people. If I want them to be grateful I have to make them know that they have to give their toys away once a year and give to others. I’ve learned it’s not just the words -- it’s what action I put behind those words.”
Those actions include taking Nahla and Maceo to donate their old toys to under-privileged children, before they receive new gifts every Christmas. The trio often visit the Jenesse Center, a domestic violence prevention and intervention organization, where Berry says her kids delight in bringing joy to other youngsters.
“They get so much out of handpicking each one of those toys and giving that to some other child, telling that child a story and making sure they’re going to take care of it,” she shared. “It makes them feel really good about themselves.”
Berry’s work with the Jenesse Center stems from witnessing her mother fall victim to domestic violence. Despite working with the organization for 18 years, Berry said raising funds for domestic violence shelters remains incredibly difficult.
“People say to me, ‘Halle, why don’t [victims] just leave? And I’m like, ‘Oh, if it were only that simple!’ So it’s been my life’s work [to bring awareness]…because the subject is so taboo. It affects so many people and not just the underprivileged and impoverished -- it touches all walks of life.”
See more on Berry's recent divorce below.