Gabrielle Union says don’t believe the hype.
The 47-year-old actress shared in an Instagram Live chat with Angolan model Sharam-Sharam Dinz that just as everyday people are struggling to make ends meet due to COVID-19 and the way its shut down work opportunities for thousands upon thousands of people, Black ‘celebrities’ and influencers are feeling it, too.
She was asked what her main concerns were as she was away from work and staying at home like everyone else, and she admitted she’s feeling both creative in this time, as well as some pressure. She shared that it’s a common feeling, even if other public figures won’t say it.
“For most, certainly Black entertainers, Black ‘celebrities,’ for all of the Oprahs and the people who have a lot, a lot, a lot of money, most of us are one or two checks away from not having money to pay for all of our things,” she said. “So this stoppage of work and money is impacting marginalized celebrities the most. All those influencers you see who take all the trips, they’re in Dubai one week, they’re in London the next week and Paris the next week and they seem to be everywhere, they may not have a lot of liquid income. You can’t charge your rent, you have to pay your rent. If you don’t have the opportunity to do all the things you need to do to be the influencer, your money’s funny. And if your money’s funny, you don’t have much of anything.”
“I think a lot of people need to understand the difference between fame and having money. And I think this quarantine is really revealing a lot in terms of, there are a lot of people that are famous, but don’t have wealth,” she said. “Having a lot of followers doesn’t equal having a lot of money. And there’s going to be a lot of people that are going to be suffering that you wouldn’t expect because they always give us perfection and aspirational living. That’s not the truth. A lot of people that you see in a photo that’s airbrushed or filtered or this, that and the other, and then you see in real life and you don’t recognize them, that’s really real. Everyone just needs to understand, this is a lot of smoke and mirrors. People who you think have a lot of stuff don’t have a lot of stuff, and people who you think their lives are perfect and they may have a ton of money, their family doesn’t talk to them or they don’t have any real friends. I don’t know anybody who has a life where I’m like, ‘Oooh, I want that.’ And there’s times I don’t want my own life because it’s hard. It’s isolating. It’s lonely and when you do have a problem, nobody wants to hear it. So it’s never what it looks like.”
The actress though, has a lot going on for herself, even during these uncertain times. She is working with Budweiser on their new revamped “Whassup” PSA commercials, and she just announced a children’s book she has coming called Welcome to the Party, due out May 5, that’s based on her journey to motherhood. She’s looking forward to doing the next season of L.A.’s Finest with Jessica Alba, and she’s still got her successful businesses, including her clothing line with New York & Company. All that being said, Gabrielle is financially okay. She attributes that to curbing excess spending for most of her life.
“I’ve never lived beyond my means. I have squirreled away my money since my first job,” she said. “I have never put out more than I bring in and I’ve always been fearful of, ‘This is going to be my last job for sure. For sure, I’m never going to work again.’ And if I have to basically create a life based on my education and my skill set, this is what I can afford. I have been living like that since I was 19. So I have a lot of savings. I have a little bit more wiggle room. But so many people, whatever they bring in, they don’t factor in taxes, they don’t factor in agency fees and attorneys, so somebody could hear, ‘So and so made a million dollars.’ That’s not a million dollars. You gotta half that because of taxes, now you’re looking at $500,000. Now you’ve got 10 percent agent, 10 percent manager, five percent lawyer, gotta pay your publicist.”
She also shared that she gives back luxury clothes people see her in and even the jewelry she had on for her IG Live? Claire’s Accessories. Gabrielle doesn’t own a closet full of gowns. These days, she would rather spend money on adventures or just save.
“All the super fancy clothes, anything that’s not from the Gabrielle Union Collection or New York & Company or sweats, I give it back,” she said. “I wear it, I borrow it, get into it, and then they come for their stuff! I hang it right back up, I put it in the garment bag and I put it right back outside. The jewels, that’s not my stuff. Other than my wedding rings, I’m not a big jewelry person. It’s all smoke and mirrors.”
Check out her insightful remarks about how Black celebs are doing during this time at the 51:35 mark below: