Glow girl: Gabrielle Union
Whether at home or in her hit TV series Being Mary Jane, she’s definitely the leading lady
INSTANT MOM “It was an unexpected gift but probably the biggest thing that changed me,” says Gabrielle (44) of the four boys she raises with NBA superstar husband Dwyane Wade (35). The actress says Dwyane’s sons – Zaire (15), Zion (10) and Xavier (3) – and his nephew Dahveon Morris (12) were the motivation behind their 2014 marriage.
“We could have gone on for a long time as boyfriend and girlfriend, but the kids were the driving force in wanting us to be a legitimate family . . . and it’s the best decision we could’ve made.” LOUD AND PROUD Although their boys are often spotted sitting courtside at Dwyane’s basketball matches, Gabrielle reveals the sought-after courtside area is a no-go zone for her.
“I don’t sit courtside,” she laughingly told TV host Conan O’Brien. “That got killed when I started becoming too vocal. He [Dwyane] was like, ‘You’re going to need to move a few rows back!’ ” SHE’S A SURVIVOR Having been raped at gunpoint during a robbery when she was 19, Gabrielle considers herself an advocate for rape survivors and has lobbied for increased funding of rape crisis centres across the USA. She encourages others who’ve been through the same thing not to see themselves as victims.
“When something catastrophic happens in life everyone rallies around you but it’s not for something positive, and I hated that. I hated feeling like a victim; it makes you lazy. I wanted to embrace being a survivor. I was raised to be an independent woman. That’s the road I decided to take.” MAKING STRIDES She initially enrolled at university to do a degree in law and sociology but ended up working as a model, which led to an acting career. Gabrielle started out in supporting roles in iconic teen movies such as She’s All That and Bring It On and has carved out a solid career in Hollywood over the past 20 years.
Despite her success she’s still vocal about the lack of diversity in movies.
“Half the time [AfricanAmericans] don’t even get the opportunity to fail. At least let me audition so you can say I just wasn’t good enough, but most times black actors can’t even get in the door,” she says.
“We’ve made strides, but if Hollywood is really going to mirror the world that it’s catering to, we have a long, long way to go.”