When most people look at beautiful Black women in Hollywood, they don’t always see flawed individuals who sometimes feel scared and even a little self-concious like we do. It sometimes becomes difficult to fathom that someone so talented, so exquisite, so fierce could possibly be battling with self-esteem issues or feeling a little less than adequate. During Essence’s Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel, actress Gabrielle Union delivered a captivatingly powerful speech that served as a reminder that behind those images are real people. She fearlessly tackled common issues that still plague the entertainment industry today and spoke boldly against them. Check out an excerpt of her speech below:
“We live in a town that rewards pretending. I had been pretending to be fierce and fearless for a very long time. I was a victim masquerading as a survivor. I stayed when I should have run. I was quiet when I should have spoken up. I turned a blind eye to injustice instead of having the courage to stand up for what’s right. I used to shrink in the presence of other dope beautiful women. I used to revel in gossip and rumors, and I lived for the negativity inflicted upon my sister actresses or anyone who I felt whose shine diminished my own.
I took joy in people’s pain and I tap-danced on their misery. I chased and accepted a love and a marriage that wasn’t worthy of a date. I lived to hear ‘Hey, if we’ll go Black, it’ll totally be you,’ as if the routine exclusion of women of color in the casting process is okay, as long as I’m considered.
It’s easy to pretend ‘to be fierce and fearless because living your truth takes real courage. Real fearless and fierce women admit mistakes and they work to correct them. We stand up and we use our voices for things other than self promotion. We don’t stand by and let racism and sexism and homophobia run rampant on our watch. Real fearless and fierce women compliment other women and we recognize and embrace that their shine in no way diminishes our light and that it actually makes our light shine brighter.
So many of us in this room are sisters. We don’t always get to see each other and its good to see you here today. Women who we’ve laughed with, cried with, and struggled with, thank you for not turning your back on me, thank you for not tap dancing on my misery, even when I wasn’t always returning the favor.”
Check out footage of Gabby’s speech here.