Actress Gabrielle Union is having a good year, or at least as good as it gets for a Black actress these days. Few if any sistas are working and when they are it is usually in small supporting roles. Sanaa Lathan said in Essence Magazine she was “Happy to have found work this year” and a check of her IMDB page shows that besides a stint on Nip Tuck last year, the sista has not worked much over the last few years. The same can be said for Gabrielle whose IMDB page is just as sporadic and ill-fated as Sanaa’s. Gabby has had slightly better luck however, appearing in Tyler Perry’s “Daddy’s Little Girls”, earlier this year and now, “This Christmas”, which opens December 12th and sees Gabrielle paired with Morris Chestnut- for the fourth time.
“The Perfect Holiday” also stars Queen Latifah, Rachel True and Jill Marie Jones, whom Gabrielle says she has been close friends with for years. Below you can check out an interview Gabby recently gave to Will Morales of Reel To Reel, in which she once again states the hardships of trying to be a working Black actress and why the Black actresses, contrary to speculation, are actually a very close knit community of women.
How was working with Morris?
Gabrielle Union: Morris is so easy to work with. When you find someone that is always so humble, always so nice, always so courteous to everybody, knows their lines, and you actually have chemistry with, and they’re not gross or perverted and always a gentlemen, you try to get that experience as often as you can. We just like really working with each other. This is actually our second time where we are a couple.
What was the attraction to doing this film?
GU: Shakim and Latifah called and we have been trying to work together for years. Everytime I would see her, I would say to her, ‘What’s up? What’s going on? When are we going to work together?’ Then Latifah called me, and said, ‘Listen to the pitch, but don’t say no.’ She said that I was a single mother with three kids and I was like, ‘What? No ‘Set It Off 3′? She said that I had never done anything like this and let’s try to flip it and show me in a different light. I read the script and got drawn to the idea that this woman only wants a compliment and I wanted to explore that and how do I go on this journey with this character, who clearly needs balance. Then I thought about my own sister’s life and a lot of my friends’ lives, who give up everything for their families and leave nothing for themselves and I just started to understand the character.
Was it true that you modeled your character after your sister?
GU: My sister, my friend, my mom, all of them have three kids and with very distinct personalities and how do you maintain your relationship with your kids and being a mother and at the same time having a life. There’s this idea that if you are a woman everything has to be about everybody else and anything you try to do for yourself is selfish and you are self-centered and you’re not a good mom and I watched a special on Oprah where she said the happier the mother, the happier the child. If you don’t have anything else going on in your life but your kids, somebody is going to be unhappy, and that’s what I went into this film thinking about.
How was working with Jill (Marie Jones) and Rachel (True)?
GU: Well, Jill and I have been best friends for a lot of years. She’s already in our crew, but she had been gone, and she was working, and I hadn’t seen her, so this was a chance where I could hang out with my girlfriend and hang out in Hoboken and New Jersey and New York and we had a blast. Rachel worked on ‘Half and Half’ with my other best friend, Essence Atkins and I knew her through Essence so this was nice to get to know her on my own and outside of her show and she’s great. Our community is very small so we have all known each other for a long, long time.
The acting community?
GU: Yes, the acting community, but specifically African American community. We all have auditioned through the years. I remember seeing Rachel audition for ‘The Craft’ and Jill and I met somewhere around town. You sort of come up together and you see each other at the same places. It doesn’t matter what city you are in, everyone’s in the same spot. It’s the same way with musicians, athletes, and actors. We travel in the same circle. I remember Shaq at 21. I remember Kobe when he first came into the clubs. We sort of all grow together.
Even with African American female actresses, as close as everyone is, there is still a competition to get parts.
GU: Hell yeah! Obviously, but if you don’t win, you want your friend to win cuz if you need a loan, you know where to go for the money. (Laughs). Our group is pretty wide and everyone works. I learned a long time ago that it doesn’t really pay to hate on anybody and try to put out negative stories or anything. Karma is a bitch and it comes back around and no matter how bad you talk about somebody, you’re still not going to get that role. If it’s for you, then it’s for you, regardless of what you say about anybody else. If the movie does well, it breeds more opportunity.
Why should anyone see ‘The Perfect Holiday’?
GU: It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It’s a great feel-good appropriate family movie. You will not have any discussion with your children that you are not ready for. It’s a great holiday film.