Gabrielle Union may be known for showing up as her fully authentic self these days, but that has not always been the case.
Her latest project, The Inspection, sees her portray correctional officer Inez French, who severs her relationship with her son when he comes out as gay. Union publicly champions for LGBTQ+ rights and said she initially could not find a common thread between her and French.
That perspective changed when the actress realized their common ground was that they each were willing to gamble something of significant value in order to be accepted and seen.
“For me, I didn’t gamble with my children, but I’ve gambled with all sorts of things,” she told Yahoo Entertainment in an interview on Wednesday (Nov. 16). She went on to reveal that in order to fit in among her white industry peers, she would try to assimilate in ways that made her physical features appear more European.
“I mean not to 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,” explained the Breaking In star.
She continued, “As illogical and silly and stupid as that is, I tried to minimize my Blackness. I tried to constantly be shape-shifting that dual consciousness. I had multiple personalities. I was trying to constantly change who I was, depending on the room, if I thought it was gonna get me this far ahead.”
Last year, Union penned the foreword for “Supreme Actresses: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Hollywood.” The book chronicles the journeys to success of some of the entertainment industry’s brightest stars through essays, photographs, and interviews.
Union wrote in her essay that she spent most of her life trying to fit in with white crowds. From growing up in Pleasanton, California, to attending UCLA and pursuing an acting career, she wrote there was never a time when she was not faced with the hurdle of fighting to be seen as her authentic self and to be accepted.
See Gabrielle Union discuss her attempt to minimize her Blackness in the clip below.
— Yahoo Entertainment (@YahooEnt) November 16, 2022