Gabrielle Union spoke to Jay Williams on NPR’s The Limits podcast about standing up for herself, her children, and her people. The actress, author, and producer described questioning her personal preferences, the perception of Black media, popping up to her children’s school to make sure administrators would know her “presence,” would be felt, embracing her natural hair, and how the pressures to assimilate impacted her early childhood and acting career.
“I was conditioned to believe you haven’t really made it in Hollywood if you’ve only got ESSENCE covers or Ebony or Jet. If your own people, you know, love you and you good in every hood you probably aren’t as welcome in Hollywood,” she said.
Today she advocates heavily for Blackness in all forms. She enrolled her youngest daughter in a school with “brown teachers,” sent hundreds of children to see Black Panther, wrote openly about her personal experiences with racism in the Illinois and recently filmed her upcoming film The Perfect Find in Newark where supported the Black businesses there – loudly.
She acknowledged how financial freedom permits her to speak up about social issues with fewer fears of professional consequences.
“But I also recognize that I am wildly privileged that I am married to a pretty wealthy man so if I talk my shit and Hollywood’s like and that’s enough for you. I’m only falling but so far – you know what I mean? And I’m able to recognize that privilege so when I recognize that there are voices that need to be heard and literally can not speak because they need to feed their families I try to lead.”
Union explained why she feels obligated to be a truth teller. “Every time you lie you make someone comfortable in their bullshit,” she stated plainly.
Later during the conversation she addressed how she manages to stay sane in the face of criticism.
“I realized anybody who’s ever come for my neck is not leading a life that I aspire to,” she said.
“I’m not talking about finances, I’m talking about a peaceful, joyous, equitable life.”