Gabrielle Union leaves everything on the table in her new memoir, You Got Anything Stronger?
Short N Sweet Ent
“One of my biggest fears in life is being misunderstood.” Gabrielle Union-Wade
When actress, executive producer, best-selling author, and mother Gabrielle Union-Wade released her first memoir, We’re Going to Need More Wine? I was immediately drawn to her vulnerability and her sense of self when telling the deepest darkest stories of her life. I was boarding a flight back home when I decided to scroll through my Instagram and right there across my screen Gabrielle Union’s page popped up and I saw that she was going on a book tour for her second memoir, You Got Anything Stronger? It took me about 2 point 2 seconds to click on the link to see how I can get one of the best available seats in the house. After reading a short blurb to comprehend what the book was about I was excited to know that she was going to open up about her surrogacy journey, navigating and balancing her marriage, career, friendships, personal identity and added a special bonus of a chapter about a letter she wrote to her character from “Bring It On.”
Union finished her book tour this week, hitting prominent cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami but of course, her first stop in Brooklyn, NY at Brooklyn Kings Theatre indicated that she was off to an incredible start and was on to something special. Even though I had purchased my tickets in advance I wanted to get there early just in case Union had any early surprises. When I walked in I immediately received a copy of “You Got Anything Stronger? and patiently sat for her arrival.
It felt like I waited for 5 minutes before she came out but when the music started moderator Gia Peppers, who is an entertainment journalist, on-air talent, and content creator walked in with the Queen herself Gabrielle Union. I knew the night was going to give me everything I was looking for and more. The first thing I said in my head was wow, these two ladies are absolutely beautiful and I had to take a moment just to realize how powerful this night was about to be.
Photo Credit: Bexx Francois
Union started this intimate conversation off by letting us know from the jump that she was going to leave everything on the table and not hold back. She began by expressing that this memoir was not hard to write, “My vulnerability is my superpower and one of my biggest fears in life is being misunderstood.” She was ready to put herself out there in a way that she has not done before. She wanted to be transparent and create a community where people could continue to feel like they are not alone.
I have been asked numerous times, when are you going to have kids, and deep down I want to say, stop asking me. The answer will remain the same. I will have kids when the time is right. No, not the actual ticking time clock for women of a certain age or trying to figure out the “perfect” time but when the man above graces me with the blessing of creating a life. I know that I am young right now and I have time but after hearing so many women talk about their journey to motherhood it can feel overwhelming knowing all the pressures that society puts on women when it comes to this topic.
When Union started telling us her surrogacy journey and the experience of the birth of Kaavia James I secretly wanted to cry. I read about her traumatizing childhood experience with being brutally beaten and raped at the Payless store she worked at, the many miscarriages she faced, and all the rounds of IVF she had to go through to have a child but nothing felt more real than hearing it in person and seeing the strength in her eyes. I knew at that very moment she was saving the lives of women who feel like they are silenced from the pain that they too have gone through. It was the stillness in the room that made me understand that women who have endured this amount of pain can find the light at the end of the tunnel. If you know anything about Gabrielle Union and her relationship with Kaavia James, you know that those two are inseparable. Kavvia James is the life of the party and she gives us unmatched energy. I know for me, I can’t wait to see how their relationship develops over time because the love they display is magical.
As the conversation grew deeper, Union began to talk about her character, Isis from Bring It On, and the apology she wanted to give to her. Bring It On is an iconic movie and will go down in history as one of the greats. I remember watching it at least a dozen or so times reciting the words and mimicking all of the cheerleader’s routines but from the outside looking in, I couldn’t see where Union owed Isis or even us an apology.
Photo Credit: Bexx Francios
Union stated that she was given full control over her charter and what she wanted it to symbolize in the movie and if she could go back she would have not muzzled her and would have allowed her to have her full humanity. Being human is having the ability to express rage and that is something that she didn’t do.
“When harm is done we are taught don’t be angry. We teach people that it really wasn’t that bad. We often go for the high road but the people who have treated us wrong need to feel how badly it hurt and face the consequences. We let people off the hook and we have to stop and let them sit in those L’s.”
Well, well, well I now know why she wanted to apologize to Isis because being a strong black female in this country I know firsthand that we are told to minimize our voices to make others feel comfortable. We as black women are taught that we need to be strong but not too strong and if we dare show how powerful we are we can be seen as intimidating but we must not allow anyone to ever dim our light. We must be our authentic seleves at all times and most importantly unapologetically black.
One of my favorite parts of the night came when Gia Peppers asked Gabrielle Union to speak on the power of sisterhood. She responded with,
“It can get dark and in Hollywood, it’s pitch black and it’s critical to have real friends. When I post and my captions that say, my true friend, then you know we been through some Ish. I use the analogy of a helium balloon at a children’s party that starts to fly away and someone will catch it. Sometimes I need my girlfriends to catch me and tie me to their arms so that I won’t float away. Luckily I have a crew that has saved me literally and figuratively more than I can even count. My friends hosted an intervention at my friend Larry Sims, my partner in Flawless, they knew I was circling the drain in an alarming way. It takes people that you trust and trust you back to be like no come here I am going to tie you to my wrist until we figure it out. In Hollywood, when I first entered the business I was blessed to have women like Tichina Arnold, Tisha Campbell, Regina King, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lewis, Sanaa Lathan, Alicia Keys and so many others who were not interested in or investing in watching me crash and burn. To have a connection of a shared purpose is phenomenal. I don’t want us to fail. Let’s help us be better. Let’s help each other heal. That’s the glow-up. If I’m eating you eating and that’s how we all worked.”
As the night came to a close I finally felt like I could take a deep breath. I felt like I wasn't alone and in a room full of wonderful people that is on the same journey as me. It has been a couple of weeks since the book has been released but I already feel stronger and ready to take over the world. Thank you Gabrielle Union and Gia Peppers for exemplifying the meaning of a strong black woman! It's not too late for you to grab your copy!
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Until next post... Coach Tay