The World Won’t End If More Women Of Color Are On TV, Says Gabrielle Union

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It’s true, y’all, the world is not going to end due to the increased representation of diverse women on TV. Don’t believe us? Well all you have to do is watch broadcast, cable or digital platform television. Or you could read the words of actress Gabrielle Union who doesn’t hold back when it comes to talking about the importance of being diverse.

The actress who plays the lead role in BET’s ‘Being Mary Jane’ has spoken in the past about women needing to be fearless and stand up for racism, homophobia and sexism in the industry.

But a lot has happened since she gave that speech at the Essence magazine Black Women in Hollywood event in 2013.

For starters, she got married to her pro basketball beau, Miami Heat player Dwayne Wade, in August 2014. Also she was one of the many female celebrity victims of the nude photo leaks. But in a guest article for Cosmo magazine, she made it clear how much of a fighter she was and talked about the scandal actually being a sex crime.

“It’s not a career boost — it’s a new form of sexual abuse,” she wrote. “When billions of people on the Internet can see you naked without your consent, it’s a crime.”

She talked about her own rape experience in college, and how disappointed she is that more feminist groups aren’t speaking up about these injustices that happen to women on a more frequent basis than people realize.

Well Gabs (can we call you that?) we’re here to tell you that we are on your side and fully believe in never backing down from a fight when it is about defending the rights of women. This is something she is clearly still passionate about, judging from a recent interview with Yahoo! Style where she discusses everything from being an independent woman despite being married to a star athlete, the portrayal of black women in TV, domestic violence in the NFL, police brutality, and having a voice and using it to speak up for what she believes in.

First up she talks about how ridiculous it is that the press feel the need to speculate on women’s personal lives, and ask them when they are having babies. Jennifer Aniston recently spoke out about this slamming the media which like to portray women who don’t have children as somehow “less than”.

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Gabrielle also says it is no one’s business to comment on it, but that she has the power to combat these questions.

“Now that I’ve been given a voice, I’m going to use it,” she says which definitely set the tone for her interview.

She was asked to comment on the rising racial tensions after the Ferguson incident and Eric Garner being choked by a police man for selling cigarettes.

“I think what the protesters are saying, or at least some of them, is it’s not just about police brutality. It’s about a widespread systematic crippling of some people in this country by birthright, and no one’s acknowledging it.”

She also said there are far too many complacent people who look at the few examples of black men and women in the spotlight and think the score has been evened out.

“They say, ‘It’s not that bad. We have Barack Obama. We’re good.’ Or, ‘You’re not getting lynched.’ They’re not acknowledging the institutional racism that impacts daily lives.” It’s a shocking statement but very true.

When she married beau Dwayne in 2014, there was a lot of (unnecessary) press surrounding the pre-nup she asked him to sign. Because apparently it’s the public’s business to know…But her explanation of why she chose to do it, and her transparency in wanting other women to know why, is impressive.

“For women in Hollywood, when they’re coupling, everything is about the brand. Everything is about latching on to a rising star, so you can kick your heels up. That’s never been my story, ever. I make sure to let people know all of the hard work that’s gone into my career,” she says.

“I want people to know the work that it took to get through UCLA, that I had student loans and worked. I was eating Top Ramen and lived well below my means. Now that it’s time to get married to a man who happens to play basketball and has done well for himself, I want to make it clear that I have in no way hitched my wagon to his star. I have my own wagon and star.” BAM!

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In fact her words echo what rock star Gene Simmons talked about not too long ago in his new book ‘Me, Inc.: Build an Army of One, Unleash Your Inner Rock God, Win in Life and Business’. His message was that you never know what is going to happen in life so women should never depend on a man, but learn to be financially independent. It was seen as a controversial statement, but one that we believe in wholeheartedly.

“Women: Stop depending on men. It’s as simple as that. Imagine there are no men in life. Find out that thing that you’re good for that makes the money and then get married and or have children from a position of strength,” he said.

Her views on the horrendous way the NFL handled the major domestic violence cases reported in 2014 involving Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson show that she has thought about it carefully. She says just because a handful of people commit a crime doesn’t mean the entire league is corrupt, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t do a good enough job of being forthcoming with the information. Instead he had to do major damage control after information about domestic violence cases leaked to the public.

“The NFL is a microcosm of all industries. Domestic violence affects Wall Street, teachers, and policemen. We have a lot of work to do as a league, but we also have a lot of work to do as a society,” she said.

And apparently because she happens to be a young black woman playing the lead role in a hit TV series ‘Being Mary Jane’, she is getting major comparisons to another young black woman paying a lead role in a hit TV series. We’re talking about Kerry Washington who plays Olivia Pope in ‘Scandal’. Olivia Pope is a political fixer working for the President of the United States, and Mary Jane is a cable news anchor. If we’re pulling at straws, both characters have complicated, even controversial, relationships on screen, but still, that has nothing to do with gender or race!

Gabrielle believes these comparisons show just how far behind we still are with diversity in TV and uses it as a great reason for needing more.

“What bugs me is that they’re making the comparison because they’re both shows that star black women. It’s such apples and oranges. It’s like comparing ‘True Detective’ and ‘Law & Order’ — you would never do that. What it says is we need so much more diversity in TV. We need shows starring women of color or women of a certain age or women who aren’t a size 2. If that happens, the world isn’t going to end.”

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Chris Rock wrote a masterful account of how Hollywood is failing miserably in giving non-white men and women the same opportunities as white men and women. He wrote it in December, after all the major cases of police brutality against black men had played out in the media. What he didn’t know at the time, was that there was about to be yet another huge outcry of disparate race representation in the media with the Academy Award nominations showing white men making up the majority of nominations in the major categories. The biggest film to miss out on some of the top categories such as ‘Best Film’ and ‘Best Director’ was Ava DuVernay’s ‘Selma’, and it caused the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to go viral.

Gabrielle agreed with what Chris was saying because she has seen first hand the discrimination that happens in Hollywood due to her appearance.

“I think it was part of a larger conversation about a lack of real inclusion in the casting process. They say, ‘We just went with the best candidate,’ but if you’re never considered, you never have a chance. I don’t think people won’t tune in to ‘True Detective’ if I was Colin Farrell’s wife, or if it was Eva Mendes or Viola Davis,” she said.

“He was pointing out if you look at the biggest films and television shows, there’s not a lot of diversity. The fact that there’s a massive controversy about [the new ‘Star Wars’ having] a black Stormtrooper is crazy. It’s a made-up world. But in movies, even if you’re in an outer-space community, there’s no diversity. Damn, that says a lot.”

Can we just say how in awe we are of a woman like Gabrielle who also isn’t afraid to “say a lot”. We need more diverse women speaking up about issues that affect all of us, rather than choosing to stay silent and be part of the status quo. Her career has gone from strength to strength despite controversies and that should be a statement in itself that the world isn’t going to end up people speak up, even when it is the unpopular thing to do.

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