LOS ANGELES—Inspiration can come from literally anywhere or anyone. Take Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry for instance.
Berry wasn’t born into a life of privilege. As a biracial girl raised by a single mother and who attended a nearly all-white school, Berry knew her share of teasing, bullying and difficulty. But she has learned lessons along the way that have empowered her to rise above the odds and become the woman she is today.
Berry was the keynote speaker at the City Gala, an event that’s all about entrepreneurship and creating a brighter future through charity. She spoke about how she overcame some of these early challenges and continues to learn from life’s lessons.
Here are three things that have helped Berry achieve success despite the odds.
1. Connect opportunity with passion.
Success, defined by Berry, is where opportunity and passion meet. “I try to figure out what opportunities I have and what I’m good at,” she said. When you are able to combine your opportunities with your passions, then you are living a purpose-filled life.
For Berry, purpose comes in the form of service. She said has found great satisfaction raising money for the Jenesse Center, a domestic violence intervention program. Domestic violence, she said, is still taboo and misunderstood. But it touches all walks of life and affects women in every demographic. “It’s my life’s work getting women to talk about it,” she said.
2. Find a mentor, then become one.
Berry’s mother worked tirelessly for her children, so Berry grew up as a self-described “latchkey kid.” Her fifth-grade teacher, Yvonne Sims, noticed Berry and took special interest in her. “She filled me with worth and value,” said Berry, who has remained close to Sims for 40 years. Today, she is the godmother of Berry’s children.
Berry, in turn, has taken mentorship seriously and has mentored several young people herself. “I’ve always known how important that is,” she said.
3. Be grateful for your mistakes.
During her keynote, Berry candidly opened up about her mistakes in marriage, in light of her recent divorce to Oliver Martinez. She said, “Everybody, especially women, go into marriage thinking it’s going to last forever. …So when it falls apart, it feels like a huge failure.”
While she admitted to feeling embarrassed, guilty and responsible, she is admirably grateful for what she has learned. “All of those relationships were necessary for me,” she said. “Those relationships provided me with lessons that got me to where I am right now. For that, I’m grateful.” Berry is now taking those lessons learned and teaching them to her children, who are her main focus.
With so many startups ending in failure, every successful entrepreneur is fighting against the odds. But by connecting opportunity with passion, valuing mentorship, and finding the good in mistakes, we can follow Berry’s lead and rise above those odds to success.