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Gabrielle Union Turned Her Darkest Moment Into A Source Of Power

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We are not what happens to us, we are what we go through. Even if it seems unfair at the time.


Gabrielle Union is a testament of that. As a rape suvivor, the actress has always been very transparent about many of the experiences she's endured and overcome. And even after being in the spotlight for over 20 years, Gabrielle still hasn't shied away from the responsibility of raising awareness on violence against women. In fact, it is that experience, as well as being a very active stepmother to her NBA superstar husband Dwyane Wade's children that the Being Mary Jane star draws on for her new role in the upcoming thriller Breaking In (in theaters May 11).

Still from "Breaking In"

As co-producer, alongside Will Packer, Breaking In is about a mother protecting her kids from violent home intruders, and she kicks ass and takes names. Gabi recently revealed to Parade that being a stepmom and surviving her attack were crucial to relating to her character in Breaking In.

"I think what I realized through my attack was that when push comes to shove, I'm fully capable of saving myself. My story is pretty well known in the sense that I was raped at gunpoint and when the rapist put the gun down, I grabbed it and tried to shoot him and we had a battle for the gun. And what I did naturally isn't anything that you can be taught. That was instinct."

While she has had training over the years for roles in other action films, pure instinct was really the driving force behind portraying this badass mom. Never mess with a momma bear; they always hold their own.

"So I felt pretty confident that if it's hand-to-hand combat, I'm going to be able to hold my own. And I don't know if that's just years of being an athlete or just that survival instinct that kicked in for me. Since then, I've done other action films and I've had weapons training and hand-to-hand combat training, which I luckily haven't had to use in real life. But I feel like what I know that I can do naturally without any training and the bits of training that I've picked up from different law enforcement agencies and different stunt coordinators, that I'll be able to hold my own in pretty much any situation."

She also talks about what life is like for her helping to raise Zaire (16), Dahveon (16), Zion (10), and Xavier (4), and reveals that staying in your lane while being loving and nurturing is the formula to being a successful bonus mom in a blended family.

"The secret to being a good stepmom is to stay in your lane, to love them with everything that you have, but never forget that they have parents. Their parents hold the vast majority of the space, and it's your job to lift them up, support them, to have their back and to be an additional responsible, consistent, reasonable adult in the kids' lives. Getting to be a part of shaping our future leaders, watching them be compassionate and apply the lessons that you teach in your household, is so rewarding."

Between all of her commitments, she also finds that drawing real boundaries for others is one of the major ways she is able to protect her peace. Saying "NO" is a vital component to happiness, and people pleasing will only end up giving you wrinkles.

"I say no a lot. You're the only person that you need to please at the end of the day. I've come to realize that people who will resent you because you have drawn healthy boundaries that protect your peace and sanity are not people that you need in your life. Living to make those people happy will make you look old."

And if you needed a gentle reminder of the essence of your power, Gabi sums it up very nicely when she says,

"There's a superhero in all of us."

Read her full feature with Parade here.

Be sure to head to the theaters this weekend to catch Gabrielle Union in Breaking In. Watch the trailer below.

Featured image by Getty Images

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A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

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As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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