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Gabrielle Union Is Totally Over Hollywood BS, and Is Making It Her Mission to Dismantle It

image via Ga Fullner/Shutterstock

image via Ga Fullner/Shutterstock

Gabrielle Union wasn’t always comfortable in her blackness. However, as she reveals in a recent interview, getting older, being a parent, and doing The Birth of a Nation, all contributed to her not only being comfortable in her own skin, but her willingness to put herself out there as a force for change.

In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Union spoke candidly about racism, sexism, and how both she and her family handle the fact that “Just their physical presence puts them in danger.”

It seems that the constant pressure of being black and female in Hollywood have taken their toll on Union, who has become exhausted by the constant strain. “That sense of being hyper-visible or invisible on sets. When do you stand up and point out every micro-aggression, and when do you stand down so you’re not the angry black person all the time? It’s tiring. It feels like another job that you’re not getting paid for—that is all encompassing.”

However, that exhaustion was channeled into her experience in making The Birth of a Nation, which she took despite it being a role in which she spoke no lines, because of the platform she hoped it would provide her to speak out against racism, sexism, and in support of survivors of sexual assault.

“I was going to then go on a press tour and be able to say all the things that I’ve wanted to say,” she explains. “That I’ve been saying for the past 25 years—whether that be testifying before Congress or state legislatures—to the biggest audience I was ever going to get to listen to me talk about sexual assault, and the history of sexual assault being used as a weapon of mass destruction against black female bodies. I need you to connect me to rape, because that’s my reality.”

Which is why she thinks that what happened with The Birth of a Nation after Nate Parker’s history of sexual assault allegations became the focal point of all discussion surrounding the film was so unfortunate. After stunning critical acclaim at Sundance, the film had lackluster box office returns due, in large part, to the controversy. For Union, this means that the efforts of so many brilliant and talented black people — particularly women — will go unseen.

“I look at Aja [Naomi King, who plays Nat Turner’s wife, Cherry],” says Union. “She so deserves people to see her performance. She’s such a feminist. She’s this young dynamo. This could have been her big break. This big job that gives her the accolades and attention that she deserves. It’s like we all got thrown out. It’s like the baby and the bathwater all went down the drain.”

Still, she is determined to do her part, not only to educate those who want to be better allies, but to fight against the systemic injustices in her industry, and beyond.

I’d highly recommend checking out the full interview at Harper’s Bazaar. Union is so much more than Bring It On, though bringing it on is not something she’s shying away from any time soon.

(via Women and Hollywood, image via Shutterstock)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.