Gabrielle Union Inspires Students to Be Authentic

Photo by Michael Lavine
By Aaliyah Weathers

Photo by Michael Lavine

Gabrielle Union Inspires Students to Be Authentic

By Aaliyah Weathers
Hollywood actress and star of the hit BET series Being Mary Jane gets real about gender, race and courage in the face of adversity.

While touring the country to promote her new book, We’re Going to Need More Wine (HarperCollins), actress and activist Gabrielle Union made a stop at the University of Miami on Wednesday for a lunchtime conversation with faculty, student leaders and female student athletes organized by the Office of Government and Community Relations and local bookseller Books & Books. Phallon Tullis-Joyce, a redshirt junior goalkeeper on UM’s women's soccer team, introduced Union, who played club soccer in college. 

To an audience of predominantly women of color, Union’s messages resonated deeply. Though she has a successful film and television career, is married to championship-winning NBA star Dwyane Wade and has spearheaded several business ventures and campaigns, she shattered any myths that she is a matchless superwoman who has it all. She assured the crowd that no one is perfect and no one should strive to be. She stressed the importance of being your authentic self, regardless of whether that means you have to swim against the current.

Union also spoke candidly about her sexual assault and commended the women who were brave enough to speak out amid the Hollywood scandals and the #MeToo campaign.

“I was the perfect victim,” Union said, noting that since she was assaulted by a stranger at gunpoint, no one questioned whether or not she “deserved it,” which is not the case for many brave women who tell their stories.

As the Q&A portion of the event began, hands in the audience shot up for a chance to ask a question. Junior Lauren Copeland asked Union about dealing with failure as a creative. Senior Alexis McDonald asked about her work-life balance.

No matter the question, Union’s responses encouraged the students to take time while in college to figure out who they are and what makes them happy. Acknowledging that we live in a society that tends to “other” women and people of color, she urged them to use that bias as motivation to work harder and refuse to let it derail their success.