Gabrielle Union Explains How Social Media Showed Hollywood The Value Of Black Actresses
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Gabrielle Union Explains How Social Media Showed Hollywood The Value Of Black Actresses

Actress and entrepreneur Gabrielle Union is bringing attention to the crucial role social media has played in shaping how Black actresses are perceived in the entertainment industry.

The 50-year-old, who began her career as a model before transitioning into acting, rose to fame between the late 1980s and 1990s by guest starring in several hit shows such as Saved by the Bell and Sister, Sister. Union's success would only skyrocket from there. Her breakout role, however, was in Bring It On, and from there, she starred in several other films and her own TV show, Being Mary Jane, and ultimately became a household name.

Since then, Union has cemented her status as a leading actress by taking on various roles in multiple genres, including drama, comedy, action, and romance. Union's most recent work is the romantic comedy The Perfect Find, set to premiere on Netflix this summer.

In a recent interview on Bloomberg's Idea Generation, Union opened up about the struggles she faced in her career before social media and how the platform has positively impacted her life, as well as other Black actresses in Hollywood.

Gabrielle On Her Career

Union told the outlet on May 8 that early on in her career, she wasn't particularly anybody's first pick when it came to job opportunities, but despite the minor setback when the star would find work, it would become a successful project.

The actress would further elaborate that as she participated in box office hits like Bring It On and Bad Boys II, she was informed that those films would open up more job opportunities, mainly because the characters she portrayed left a lasting impression on the audience.

"I think even now, from then to now, late '95 to 2023, I've never been anybody's first choice. Not Black folks, not white folks. But by hook or by crook, I get a job right, and that movie does really well. What they tell you is if you're part of the movie and your character pops, then that leads to the next thing," she said.

Later in the conversation, the Being Mary Jane star expressed that although the movies were successful and positively received by the general public, those in Hollywood didn't treat her fairly.

Union would claim that before the invention of social media, she couldn't differentiate if she was missing out on gigs, including the Bring It On and Bad Boys sequels, because of other people's decisions or if it was due to the public reaction.

"But I really realized that after Bad Boys II and Bring It On, how I am received by real-life people is not reflected on how I'm treated in Hollywood," she explained. "They're completely different. But before social media, I had no way of really knowing that or quantifying that. Because they tell you if you succeed, these are the roles that open up. So I'm succeeding, and the door is bolted shut."

Gabrielle On The Positive Impact Social Media Had 

Union came to terms with what was going on in her career when she realized that those individuals who have been "jumping the line" make those in charge "very comfortable."

The Deliver Us From Eva star added that the rise of social media had given her and other actresses like Taraji P. Henson, Nia Long, Sanaa Lathan, and Tracee Ellis Ross the chance to see how well-loved and valued they are for their craft which has then inspired those in Hollywood to take notice.

"The people who are jumping the line seem to be folks that make white people in charge very comfortable. But what it did, the social media era, me, Taraji, Nia, Sanaa, [and] Tracee, it allowed our real-world popularity to be quantified to where it was undeniable," she stated.

To date, Union has a combined total of 25.7 million followers on both Instagram and Twitter. The star often uses her platforms to bounce ideas for a possible project, promote her work and share real-life experiences with her fans, which contributes to why she is likable by most people.

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Feature image by Taylor Hill/Getty Images

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