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Happy Women's History Month: Celebrating Actresses Who Transitioned from Acting to Directing

by Kyla Cruz

From captivating audiences on screen to making their mark behind the camera, several female actresses have transitioned from acting to directing, showcasing their multifaceted talents in the world of filmmaking.

Image Credit: Michael Buckner/Variety | Getty Images & BojanMirkovic | Getty Images


Among these notable women are Halle Berry and Rebecca Hall, who have successfully ventured into directing while continuing to excel in their acting careers. Halle Berry, celebrated for her performances in films like "Monster's Ball" and "X-Men," made her directorial debut with the film "Bruised." Released in 2021, "Bruised" follows the story of a disgraced MMA fighter seeking redemption both inside and outside the ring.


Berry not only directed the film but also starred in the lead role, demonstrating her versatility as both a director and an actress. Despite facing challenges during the production process, including injuries sustained while filming fight scenes, Berry's directorial debut received positive reviews for its raw intensity and compelling storytelling.

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Similarly, Rebecca Hall, known for her roles in "The Prestige" and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," transitioned into directing with her debut feature film "Passing." Adapted from Nella Larsen's novel of the same name, "Passing" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021 to critical acclaim. The film explores themes of racial identity and passing in 1920s Harlem, offering a nuanced and thought-provoking examination of race and privilege. Hall's directorial style has been praised for its subtlety and sensitivity, marking her as a promising talent behind the camera.


What sets actresses-turned-directors like Halle Berry and Rebecca Hall apart is their ability to bring a unique perspective to their filmmaking endeavors. Drawing from their experiences as actors, they offer insights into character development, storytelling, and performance, enriching their directorial vision with depth and authenticity. Their transition into directing reflects a desire to explore new creative avenues and challenge themselves artistically, proving that talent knows no bounds.


In addition to Berry and Hall, other female actresses have also made successful forays into directing, including Jodie Foster, Angelina Jolie, and Greta Gerwig, among others. Their contributions to the world of cinema as both actors and directors have helped to diversify storytelling and elevate female voices in the industry.


As the landscape of filmmaking continues to evolve, the emergence of actresses-turned-directors serves as a testament to the power of women in shaping the narratives of their own stories. Through their creative talents and artistic vision, they inspire future generations of filmmakers to break barriers, defy expectations, and forge their own paths in the world of cinema.


01. Don't Worry Darling, (2022) | Director: Olivia Wilde

Image Credit: Marc Piasecki | Getty Images


While her husband leaves home everyday to work in a top secret facility, a young 1950s housewife begins to question her life when she notices strange behavior from the other wives in the neighborhood.



02. Being Mary Jane (2015), Scandal (2015 - 2016), Insecure (2018) (Select Episodes) & One Night In Miami (2020) + More | Director: Regina King

Image Credit: Robyn Beck | Getty Images


One Night In Miami (2020): A fictional account of one incredible night where icons Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown gathered discussing their roles in the Civil Rights Movement and cultural upheaval of the 60s.


Scandal (2015 - 2016): A former White House Communications Director starts her own crisis management firm only to realize her clients are not the only ones with secrets.


Insecure (2018): Follows the awkward experiences and racy tribulations of a modern-day African-American woman.


Being Mary Jane (2015): The life of a young Black woman, her work, her family and the popular talk show which she hosts.



03. Bruised (2020) | Director: Halle Berry

Image Credit: Tim P. Whitby | Getty Images


Bruised (2020): A disgraced MMA fighter finds redemption in the cage and the courage to face her demons when the son she had given up as an infant unexpectedly reenters her life.



04. Passing (2021) | Director: Rebecca Hall

Image Credit: Jamie McCarthy | Getty Images


Passing (2021): "Passing" follows the unexpected reunion of two high school friends, whose renewed acquaintance ignites a mutual obsession that threatens both of their carefully constructed realities.



05. Flamin' Hot (2023) | Director: Eva Longoria

Image Credit: Amy Sussman | Getty Images


This is the inspiring true story of Richard Montañez who, as a Frito Lay janitor, disrupted the food industry by channeling his Mexican heritage to turn Flamin' Hot Cheetos from a snack into an iconic global pop culture phenomenon.


06. First They Killed My Father (2017), Unbroken (2014) + More | Director: Angelina Jolie

Image Credit: Robert Kamau | Getty Images


Unbroken (2014): After a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, Olympian Louis Zamperini spends a harrowing 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen before he's caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.


First They Killed My Father (2017): Cambodian author and human rights activist Loung Ung recounts the horrors she suffered as a child under the rule of the deadly Khmer Rouge.



07. A Tale of Love and Darkness (2015) | Director: Natalie Portman

Image Credit: Marc Piasecki | Getty Images


The story of Amos Oz's youth, set against the backdrop of the end of the British Mandate for Palestine and the early years of the State of Israel. The film details the young man's relationship with his mother and his beginnings as a writer, while looking at what happens when the stories we tell become the stories we live.



08. Cocaine Bear (2023) | Director: Elizabeth Banks

Image Credit: Amanda Edwards | Getty Images


An oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists and teens converge on a Georgia forest where a huge black bear goes on a murderous rampage after unintentionally ingesting cocaine.



09. Orange Is the New Black (2013 - 2014), Black Mirror (2017), House of Cards (2014) (Select Episodes) | Director: Jodie Foster

Image Credit: Joel Saget | Getty Images


Black Mirror (2017): Featuring stand-alone dramas -- sharp, suspenseful, satirical tales that explore techno-paranoia -- "Black Mirror" is a contemporary reworking of "The Twilight Zone" with stories that tap into the collective unease about the modern world.


Orange Is the New Black (2013 - 2014): Convicted of a decade-old crime of transporting drug money, ordinarily law-abiding Piper Chapman is sentenced to 18 months behind bars and quickly discovers the realities of life-changing prison time.


House of Cards (2014): A Congressman works with his equally conniving wife to exact revenge on the people who betrayed him.



10. Barbie (2023), Little Women (2019), Lady Bird (2017) | Director: Greta Gerwig

Image Credit: Joe Maher/BAFTA | Getty Images


Barbie (2023): Barbie and Ken are having the time of their lives in the colorful and seemingly perfect world of Barbie Land. However, when they get a chance to go to the real world, they soon discover the joys and perils of living among humans.


Lady Bird (2017): In 2002, an artistically inclined 17-year-old girl comes of age in Sacramento, California.


Little Women (2019): Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters - four young women, each determined to live life on her own terms.

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