Halle Berry covers the December issue of Women’s Health.

Fresh off her directorial debut, the Oscar-winning actress talks all about her latest mixed martial arts film “Bruised”, which was released today.

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Berry also stars in “Bruised” as an MMA fighter. The actress trained intensely for the role, boosting her weight-training routine and learning five versions of mixed martial arts. She challenged herself to the point of breaking two ribs during a filmed fight scene with UFC champion and co-star Valentina Shevchenko.

Photo: Cliff Watts for Women’s Health
Photo: Cliff Watts for Women’s Health

Berry’s character was originally written for a 25-year-old white woman, but the 55-year-old actress convinced producer, Basil Iwanyk, to reimagine her character. “I felt it was more powerful for a middle-aged woman of colour to have a last chance. The stakes were higher,” Berry told Women’s Health. 

It was Berry’s vision to challenge the film’s story that allowed her to add director to her resume.

“When I realized I couldn’t find a director who saw this story like I saw it, I had a moment of reckoning. I finally realized that at this point in my life, I was ready. I had to take control. I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to work harder than I’ve ever worked,’ ” she said.

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And for Berry, the hard work paid off.

“One of the biggest compliments I got in the whole process was when we were shooting scenes and the referee who called Valentina’s fights in real life said, ‘That last take, I thought I was watching a real Valentina fight!’ And for me, that was the moment that all this training, all this work, having a real fighter, paid off. Everybody warned me at first that a real fighter is going to kill you. She’s going to demolish you. I was like, ‘Well, then let’s go.’ To her credit, she didn’t. She learned how to pull her punches. And she did the movie fighting as well as any stuntwoman, and she’d never done it a day in her life.”

Aside from being each other’s opponents on-screen, Berry and Shevchenko share a bond off-screen. “I feel like we’ve been through a fire together. There was a lot of pressure on me to get my part right. But when you have a partner pulling for you, and you’re both scared but want this so badly, you have a closeness. I will love her forever,” Berry said.

Photo: Cliff Watts for Women’s Health
Photo: Cliff Watts for Women’s Health

Working on “Bruised” was a “totally empowering” experience that the actress didn’t know she needed.

“I’m at my best when I have to work hard and when I’m facing challenges… To be the age I am and push my body to its limits reminded me that age is just a number. We can control how we define ourselves, and I’ve never been healthier and felt stronger. This movie helped me realize that.”

The film sees a very strong-abled Berry that took her on a fitness-frenzy but the actress enjoys living a healthy lifestyle even when she’s not working. “It’s not easy. But I always remind myself why I’m doing it. Since I had [kids] a little later in life, I want to be here for them. I want to live as long as I can and see my grandbabies,” the actress said.

READ MORE: Halle Berry Reveals Breaking Two Ribs In Fight Scene For New Netflix Drama ‘Bruised’

Berry also commented on how she encourages her kids to be strong-willed. “I’m trying to teach them to march to the beat of their own drum. Be true to themselves, and not be followers, but be leaders and innovators.”

And what better role model to have than the strong-willed actress herself! Berry’s efforts made a breakthrough in “Bruised” and are sure to have an impact on the next wave of Black creatives in Hollywood.

“All I can do is hopefully inspire and pass the ball to those coming behind me. The greatest compliment I ever get is when someone says, ‘Because you did something, it inspired me to do something else.’ That makes my heart burst,” the actress told WH.

Berry talks more about her kids, living a healthy lifestyle, seeking therapy, and her relationship with Shevchenko in her December cover issue of Women’s Health. The magazine hits newsstands on Nov. 23.

“Bruised” is now streaming on Netflix.