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Gabrielle Union Gets Honest About 'Birth Of A Nation' And The Fear Of Her Stepsons Becoming A Hashtag

The stunning actress opens up to ESSENCE about supporting rape survivors who won't see the film and raising young Black boys in today's society.
Gabrielle Union Gets Honest About ‘Birth Of A Nation’ And Fear Of Her Stepsons Becoming A Hashtag
Dennis Leupold
Gabrielle Union is breathtaking on the November cover of ESSENCE, but she also got real about a few difficult topics while chatting with our Entertainment Director, Cori Murray. Mrs. Wade has been having a blast sharing moments from her married life as a wife and stepmother on social media over the last year, but she admits that raising Black teen boys is a challenge in today’s troubling climate. “Until they walk through the door, I’m terrified,” she tells ESSENCE. “Sometimes I just want to stay off my timeline because it makes those waits until they walk through the door a thousand times worse. Just envisioning them as a hashtag.” Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news. Union also hasn’t shied away from speaking out about the controversy surrounding Nate Parker’s Birth Of A Nation film. She portrays a fictional female slave whose rape ignites the revolt in the film, which has faced much scrutiny in the wake of sexual assault accusations made against Parker in 1999 that resurfaced this year. Despite feeling conflicted after learning of the Parker’s involvement in the incident and subsequent acquittal of the charges, she says she felt a responsibility as a rape survivor to confront the topic of rape culture through her role. “The sole reason I took the movie was so I could talk about how sexual violence has historically been used as a weapon of mass destruction,” she told ESSENCE. “Used against women and families since the dawn of time, and how we are still faced with this , the voicelessness, the powerlessness.” Still, the Being Mary Jane beauty makes it clear that she fully supports the sentiments of other rape survivors and victims who may ultimately decide against seeing the film. “As a rape survivor and as an advocate, I cannot shy away from this responsibility because the conversation got difficult,” she continued. “I don’t want to put myself above anyone’s pain or triggers. Every victim or survivor, I believe you. I support you. I support you if you don’t want to see the film. I absolutely understand and respect that. I can’t sell the film.” Hear more from Gabrielle Union about her role in Birth of A Nation, the upcoming season of Being Mary Jane, married life with Dwyane Wade and being fabulous at 42 in the November issue of ESSENCE, on newsstands October 14.