Halle Maria Berry was born on August 14, 1966, in Cleveland, Ohio, the youngest daughter born to Jerome and Judith Berry, an interracial couple. Halle and her older sister, Heidi, spent the first few years of their childhood living in an inner-city neighborhood. In the early 1970s, Jerome Berry abandoned his wife and children, after which Judith moved her family to the predominantly white Cleveland suburb of Bedford.

 Throughout high school, the determined teen participated in a dizzying array of extracurricular activities, holding positions of newspaper editor, class president, and head cheerleader. A natural performer, Halle Berry earned a handful of beauty pageant titles during the early 1980s, including  Miss Teen All American 1985 and Miss Ohio USA 1986.. She paced first runner-up in the 1986 Miss U.S.A. competition. Because of her outstanding performance at Miss USA, Berry was chosen as the US Delegate to compete at Miss World in November of 1986. Berry was the first African-American woman to represent the United States at a Miss World Pageant.. 

.For a short time she attended Cleveland's Cuyahoga Community College, where she studied broadcast journalism. However, Berry abandoned her idea of a career in news reporting before receiving her degree.

As the 1980s turned into the 90s, the aspiring actress began a career in television with a role on the short-lived sitcom Living Dolls (1989), followed by a year-long run on the CBS prime-time drama Knot's Landing, in 1991.Berry's first big-screen break came later that year when she was cast as Samuel L. Jackson's drug-addicted girlfriend in Spike Lee's critically acclaimed film, Jungle Fever.

More substantial supporting roles followed, including that of a stripper in the action-thriller The Last Boy Scout (1991), starring Bruce Willis, and as the woman who finally wins the heart of Eddie Murphy in the romantic comedy Boomerang (1992). With a few films under her belt, Berry accepted more offbeat roles, making cameos in the rockumentary CB4 (1993), which traced the rise and fall of a rap group by the same name. In 1994, the live-action version of The Flintstones featured Berry as a Stone-Age seductress.

Berry offered a no-holds-barred performance as a rehabilitated crack addict seeking to regain custody of her son in Losing Isaiah (1995). Berry, who played opposite Jessica Lange and David Strathairn, was noted for her believable portrayal of a mother struggling with addiction and loss. Later that year, Berry overcame Hollywood's racial barriers when she was cast as the first African American to play the Queen of Sheba, in the Showtime's movie Solomon & Sheba. Berry's acting credits the next year included two 1996 crime thrillers: The Rich Man's Wife, and Executive Decision. The latter film marked Berry's first leading role in a feature.

In 1998, she took a turn as one of three wives laying claim to Frankie Lyman's estate in the biographical drama Why Do Fools Fall in Love?, and then played a liberal urban youth in the political satire Bulworth, opposite Hollywood veteran Warren Beatty.

In 1999, Berry released her most passionate project to date, co-producing and starring in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, an HBO biopic. Berry was noted for her striking resemblance to the late Dorothy Dandridge, and for her engaging depiction of the actress' struggle to succeed in the racially biased industry of 1950s Hollywood. Berry earned both a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy Award for Best Actress in a  Television Movie for her role.

In 2005, she took the lead in the TV adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston's classic 1937 novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, which was produced by Oprah Winfrey's production company, Harpo. She also lent her voice for the CGI cartoon project, Robots. Then in 2006, she starred in the third X-Men installment, X-Men: The Final Stand, switching gears in 2007 to star in the heart-racing thriller, Perfect Stranger, co-starring Bruce Willis. In April 2007, she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Berry is also one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood, earning as much as $14 million per film. In addition to her honors as an actress, Berry is widely acknowledged for her beauty. Playboy magazine named her among the "100 Sexiest Women of the Century" in 1998, she's been on People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" list and she was named Esquire magazine's "Sexiest Woman Alive" in 2008.

In July 2014, Halle took the small screen with a starring role in the CBS sci-fi series Extant. In the series, she plays an astronaut who returns to earth pregnant after a 13-month solo space mission. Steven Spielberg is a producer on the series.