Gabrielle Union shares that she had to “minimize” her Blackness during the times she was in search of acceptance.
The 50-year-old actress brought up the shocking tidbit during a candid chat with Yahoo News this week. While discussing her difficult role in The Inspection, initially, Union said it was hard tapping into the complicated layers of her character Inez French, a corrections officer who kicks her teenage son out of the house for being gay. The riveting drama is based on the real-life story of the film’s director Elegance Bratton.
“I was like, ‘I live differently. What have I ever given off to make anyone think that I could pull this off convincingly?'” said Union, who has been an advocate for the LGBTQ community. The Proudly CEO shows her unwavering support and guidance to her stepdaughter Zaya, who she shares with NBA star Dwyane Wade. In 2020, Zaya came out as transgender.
To connect with her character, Union said she had to transport back to moments in her life when she was conflicted with her own identity.
“I had to find the common ground with her. And that common ground is all of the things that we are willing to do in order to be seen, in order to move that much further ahead for a check, for a relationship, for acceptance, validation for white supremacy,” she continued. “What are we willing to gamble with? I mean to not make light of it, but I gambled with my upper lip. For many years I would literally smile [while hiding my lip], because I thought if I let my full lip be seen, then they would know I was Black.”
Union said that while she felt “silly and stupid” for trying to hide her identity, she was constantly struggling with “multiple personalities” in order to be accepted.
“I was trying to constantly change who I was, depending on the room, if I thought it was gonna get me this far ahead. All the things that you do for a man, all the things that you do for Jesus, all the things that you do for whoever you think that is going to deem you worthy, deem you good enough, deem you worthy of all the opportunities in life, riches, you’ll do anything. You will barter with anything. And for some of us, that’s children. And for me, it was my soul many times. So when I realized that common ground, it’s dark. It’s just very dark and disturbing.”
Social Media reacts
After the interview made headlines, some fans were shocked by Union’s confession. “What makes somebody as physically beautiful as Gabrielle Union “struggle” with their Blackness?” one fan asked on Twitter. “We should really do a case study on this.”
While another social media user thought it was pretty odd that the actress would try to minimize her Blackness after she garnered Hollywood success by starring in a number of Black films.
During the early days of her entertainment career, Union garnered success from her roles in white comedies like 1999s She’s All That (1999), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), and Bring It On (2000).
In the mid-2000s, the Omaha native began landing prominent roles in Black dramas and films such as 2012’s “Think Like A Man,” where she starred alongside Taraji P. Henson and Kevin Hart, and “Top Five” with Chris Rock.
Union’s long movie roster also includes 2001’s The Brothers, which starred Morris Chestnut and Bill Bellamy, in addition, to Deliver Us from Eva (2003) opposite LL Cool J. Now, Union is drawing some Oscar buzz from her role in The Inspection, which will debut in theaters on Friday.
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