Halle Berry Replaces Will Smith as Best Actress Presenter at 2023 Oscars

Jessica Chastain and Halle Berry speak onstage during the 95th Annual Academy Awards
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Best Actor and Actress Oscar winners typically return the following year to present the award for their counterpart categories. But as last year’s Best Actor winner Will Smith is now banned from the Academy Awards after slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 ceremony, a different performer was asked to present in his place — Halle Berry stepped in for his category at the 2023 Oscars.

Berry presented the award for Best Actress at the 95th Annual Academy Awards. The top honor went to Michelle Yeoh for Everything Everywhere All at Once. Berry, along with Jessica Chastain, also presented the Best Actor category, which went to Brendan Fraser  for The Whale. Yeoh’s co-stars, Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis, won at the top of the broadcast for their Supporting Actor and Actress roles in Everything Everywhere All at Once. These victories meant that A24 films won all four of the acting categories for the night.

Chastain won Best Actress last year for The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Chastain’s fellow 2022 winners, Ariana DeBose and Troy Kotsur, also presented the supporting acting categories earlier in the night. Each of the two pairs presented their categories back to back.

Berry made history in 2002 as the first Black woman to win Best Actress at the Oscars for Monster’s Ball. Yeoh’s win marked the first time an openly Asian actress won Best Actress, and the first time a woman of color has won the category since Berry’s victory. Berry handing Yeoh her award, 21 years after her own historic win, proved an emotional moment for both of the former James Bond stars.

Last year, Smith was banned from attending any Academy event for 10 years for the infamous slap. But he had resigned from the Academy before the organization made its decision after issuing a public apology to Rock, the Oscars, and viewers.

Host Jimmy Kimmel sprinkled slap jokes throughout the awards show’s broadcast, which took place live from Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre.

Though he had enjoyed a handful of wins throughout this awards season, Fraser stood stunned on the Oscars stage following his win, which marked a major comeback for the star.

“So this is what the multiverse looks like!” he said with tears in his eyes, referencing Everything Everywhere All at Once, which would win Best Picture shortly after. He then thanked The Whale director Darren Aronofsky for “throwing me a creative lifeline.”

In her speech, Yeoh expressed what her win meant for Asian artists everywhere, saying, “For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities. This is proof that dream big, and dreams do come true. And ladies, don’t let anybody tell you, you are ever past your prime. Never give up!”