Gabrielle Union Recalls Feeling Like A ‘Safe Black’ In Early Career


Gabrielle Union recently reflected on her early acting career and revealed that she felt like a “safe Black.” The 50-year-old actor revealed her thoughts exclusively to activist Tarana Burke, in an interview for HelloBeautiful.

Gabrielle Union Reflected On Internalizing White Supremacy

Gabrielle Union appeared as the February cover star for the publication. And discussed career, marriage, and motherhood in conversation with Burke. When speaking about her early career, the actor admitted she never wore braids or twists until her 2016 film, Almost Christmas.

It was Almost Christmas when I wanted my character to wear Senegalese twists. And I had not worn braids, twists, anything other than a wig or a weave, or my own relaxed hair up until that point. And there was a very brief debate, which was quite one-sided, and I was like, ‘I’m gonna wear it and we’re all gonna get over it.’

Union admitted that her rejection of t wearing her hair in more natural styles had everything to do with her self-esteem, up to that point. Additionally, she explained that former managers and boyfriends would compare her to a “white girl.”

It had everything to do with me and how I felt about myself. I had a manager once that said, ‘Gab, she’s like pork the other white meat.’ I had a Black boyfriend in high school who said, ‘Dating you was like dating a white girl without the hassle.’ And I took that as a f*****g compliment. The low self-esteem and the white supremacy I had centered in my life. I was like, ‘I’ve arrived.’

The 50-Year-Old Reflected On Her Early Career

Union then went on to reflect on her early roles, and explained that she viewed herself as a “safe Black.”

When you look at my early career, I was positioned like, ‘I’m not gonna make you uncomfortable,’ ‘I’m a safe black. She’s one of the good ones.’ And when you get put in that position, that means you’re open for all the f**k s**t — that you’re not going to say anything about anything cause you’re one of the good ones and you’re just grateful for these scraps that we’re giving you.

Once Union came to this self-realization, she vowed to handle herself differently moving forward.

Once I put all the pieces together, I was like, ‘I’m not going back.’ I may wear rock different wigs depending on the character, but it’s going to be character-based, not my insecurity-making decisions. I didn’t get a lot of hair stuff about my characters. But this was the first time people really wanted to know. I literally never wore braids in my life.

The Actor Recently Opened Up About Her First Marriage

As The Shade Room previously reported, Union recently made headlines when she reflected on her first marriage to Chris Howard. The actor explained that the Union was “dysfunctional,”  and she wasn’t the best wife to Howard.

In our first marriage, neither one of us felt like the marriage should get in the way of our dating. A part of it was like keeping up with his activities, like, ‘Oh, that’s what you’re doing? You’re going to feel this one.’ And I just felt entitled to it as well I was paying all the bills. I was working my a** off and I felt like that’s what comes, the spoils of riches and like my dad before me, whoever has the most gets to do whatever the hell they want is what I thought. It was just dysfunctional from day one.

Roommates, are you surprised to hear these new reflections from Union?


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