halle berry - frankie & alice

*“Frankie & Alice” may be just another new movie hitting theaters this weekend, but it’s realization of a longstanding goal for its star Halle Berry.

In addition to starring in the film, which is based on the true story of a woman who battles dissociative identity disorder while working through her inner demons to live a normal life, the actress produced “Frankie & Alice.” The feature turned out to be a passion project as Berry fought for more than five years to make sure moviegoers got a chance to see it in theaters.

Chatting with Essence.com, Berry opened up about why she devoted so much time and energy to “Frankie & Alice” as well as potential opportunities that await her in the producer’s chair.

What made you want to fight so hard to get this story out there?
For this woman to have survived this, and not just survived it, but she is now teaching at one of the most reputable universities in the country—she’s revered. She has found a way to live with this disorder, and not only live, but thrive. I thought it was a great testament to her character, to overcoming mental illness, and at the end of the day, it was inspiring and I wanted to be apart of bringing a story like this to the screen.

Your character has dissociative identity disorder and it was amazing to watch you switch between the different personalities. How did you prepare to play a grown woman (Frankie), a child (Genius), and a white racist Southern woman (Alice)?
I prepared each character as if they were all different. I also watched hours and hours of video of real people who suffer from this disorder. I watched them go in and out of character, and I read a lot on the subject to understand how they got triggered and switch from character to character. The single most important thing that I learned was that many of them go in and out of characters because each one is fighting to get to be the one who lives. This leaves Frankie with a constant struggle going on inside. So that’s where the work started for me, figuring out how that happens.

Now that you’re a producer are we going to see more projects from you, particularly because there’s been a lot of talk about the lack of quality roles for Black women in Hollywood?
I hope so. I have a production company called 606 Films and I hope that through that company I can start to generate, not just for Black people, but I want to tell good stories. I will make sure we’re all represented, but I just want to tell good stories that I care about and I hope audiences will too.

“Frankie & Alice” opens in theaters nationwide today, April 4. For more of Halle Berry’s interview with Essence.com, click here.