The dazzling Gabrielle Union was the cover girl for December issue of Essence magazine. Inside the issue, Gabrielle talked about her mean-girl past, life lessons that rejection has taught her and the next stop in her in her journey through life.
Here’s where it all started. Back in February 2013, Gabrielle was being honored with the Fierce & Fearless award at ESSENCE’s Black Women in Hollywood luncheon. While accepting her award, she began to lay down her truth and expose it. She opened her speech with the following bold statement:
We live in a town that rewards pretending — and I had been pretending to be fierce and fearless for a very long time. I was a victim masquerading as a survivor. I stayed when I should have run. I was quiet when I should have spoken up. And I turned a blind eye to injustice instead of having the courage to stand up for what’s right. I used to shrink in the presence of other dope, beautiful women. I used to revel in gossip and rumors. I lived for the negativity inflicted upon my sister actresses or anyone who I felt, whose shine diminished my own. I took joy in people’s pain and I tap danced on their misery.
That was enough to send chills just down my spine, so I can only imagine how the other actresses and powerful women in attendance such as Essence Atkins, AJ Johnson and Oprah Winfrey must have felt. Her brutal honesty was so refreshing, especially since what she dealt with happens so often, especially with us women of color. Check out the rest our Gabrielle’s moving speech here.
Check out a few excerpts from her interview below:
BAD GIRL GONE GOOD:
I was getting a divorce from [from pro football player Chris Howard] and my show [ABC’s short-lived Night Stalker] had gotten cancelled. It was 2005 and, mind you, I had been running away from help for years. I wasn’t ready to look at myself critically and honestly.
AJ Johnson, fellow actress and one of Gabrielle’s good friends wanted to help her friend break free from the negativity and wanted to help her do so. “Things weren’t going well in Gabrielle’s life and something had to change,’ says, Johnson. “She wasn’t getting the roles that she wanted and some of her friendships weren’t as deep as she thought. As women, we go through those things when we feel like the world is against us. When she called and said, ‘I really want to work with you and try to push through this block,’ I knew she was ready.
Union says that after her first day with AJ, she had to write down ten things that made her happy; she proceeded to put down ‘ground beef, real butter and imitation crab.’ She thought the list was a good start until Johnson told her differently. Johnson said to Union, “I don’t even know where to begin, but the fact that you didn’t even put down real crab… the real sh– doesn’t even make you happy! You’re happy with bullsh–! You’ve been married and divorced and you’re surprised by this. You’re blaming him and you don’t even know what makes you happy. He’s never going to get it right, because you don’t know what the right answer is.” Gabrielle says that no one had ever put it to her like that.
ALONG COMES MARY JANE:
Three years ago, Shonda Rhimes had just about every Black actress eager to land the highly sought-after role of DC’s’ number one fixer Olivia Pope. Gabrielle auditioned to play Olivia Pope and even made it to the final rounds. But despite not landing the role, Gabrielle says that her experience with Shonda Rhimes that raised her standards for working in TV & film.
Shonda set such an amazing high bar. It changes how I want to work in this town. Usually they herd you in like cattle. They are so disrespectful; they don’t give a sh– about what you’ve done or what you bring to the table. But going in for Scandal, Shonda empowered every Black woman who came through her door. Even if I don’t get the next job , or the next five jobs, I don’t want to be treated less than how Shonda treated me.
When [Kerry] Washington landed the role, Union congratulated her. After that, she then auditioned for Jumping the Broom, but that role was given to Paula Patton. But at that audition, Gabrielle left such an impression on the film’s director Salim Akil, that he went home and told his wife and business partner Mara Brock Akil that he had found the lead for her next project: Being Mary Jane.
Back in July, Being Mary Jane premiered on BET as an original movie, bringing in high ratings with 4 million viewers. In January, it will become an hour-long series.
THE NEXT EPISODE:
By now, everyone knows that Dwayne Wade is Gabby’s beau. But what many may not know or recall was that, just like many relationships, they hit a rough patch and decidedly took a break. It was on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno that the world heard Dwayne admit that him and Gabrielle had taken “a step back.” He stated that celebrity relationships are every hard, but that the two of them were indeed going strong. Gabrielle went into a little more detail about what exactly had transpired.
Why did Wade go rogue about their love life? “It was random, right? I was watching him say it on television like everyone else.”
Was the break serious? “I don’t recall it being more than a couple of days. We’re best friends, so it’s not like a break where we weren’t talking. I talked to him all day, every day. That never stopped.”
Is everything okay? “Yes. We were both painfully needy at the same time and we were physically apart. He’s injured. He’s getting persecuted. I have a whole show. I’m responsible for 100 people. If I’m not present and on it … everybody suffers. We’ve both been needy but not at a point where I couldn’t drop everything and get to him, and he could not get to me. It had never happened before in our relationship and we both had our chests a little puffed out.”
However, while the lovebirds were on break, Gabrielle chose to focus on the positive side of things. The couple made up for lost time by renting a house in Malibu over the summer and it was then that Gabrielle realized that even at her worst, she wants Dwayne by her side. She also realized that she wants kids of her own (Dwayne has two sons from a previous relationship). Gabrielle says, “I’m focusing on motherhood and nesting, and by nesting, I still mean traveling the world. I want to nest like Beyonce’ and Jay. I was afraid of the responsibility and it looks really hard. I’m lucky, I get to be around cool kids, and their moms have inspired me.”
Gabrielle stated that she needed a new adventure after she realized that she was doing the same old things that she had been doing for years prior. Now that Gabby and Dwayne are back together I’m sure she will be looking toward many new adventures.