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But the actress credits her mom—who raised the girls solo after Jerome left the family when Halle was 4—with instilling an inner strength.

(“It’s bad enough I’ve got to wear white hair with my dark skin,” she says. I welcomed the softening change.”) Now is definitely prime time for Halle.

“I think I’m a lot closer to him now than I ever was when he was alive.” Growing up, Berry says, she struggled to fit in.

Most of the time, “I was just trying to be liked,” says the former class president, honor student, school newspaper editor and prom queen, allowing, “I was always trying to overcompensate for being different.” Even as a big-haired teen in the ’80s, Berry stood out.

We’re grateful that we’re dealing with some heavy issues early, and hopefully we’ll get them behind us and move on.” Adds Benét, who got to know Berry after one of his concerts in 1997 and wed her in a beachside ceremony in Santa Barbara, Calif., before just two friends: “I’m a much better person because of her love.” Berry also praises the benefits of counseling. Going to therapy and working out our problems is a must.” Another marital imperative: a regular “date night.” “It can be at a restaurant, it can be in the bathtub, it can be by the pool, in the Jacuzzi,” Berry says. It’s just about connecting.” Connecting has been an ongoing theme in Berry’s relationships, going back to her difficult childhood in and around Cleveland.

The younger daughter of Judith, 63, a retired nurse who is white, and Jerome, an African-American hospital attendant who died in January, Berry and her sister Heidi were called “zebra” and “Oreo” by neighborhood kids.

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