Gabrielle Union Says Whitney Houston’s Death Inspired Her To Take Role On “Being Mary Jane”

February 12, 2015  |  

Like many of us, the death of Whitney Houston shook Gabrielle Union. But it also taught her an important life lesson. In a recent interview, that’s being circulated by the Associated Press, Union said, “It just kind of made everyone say, ‘What do you want your legacy to be?’ And I really doubled down on ‘I only want to do things that I care about, that mean something.”

And by things that mean something, she meant she wanted to portray characters with depth.

“So, no, I don’t want to play perfect characters that are wholesome role models…and have all the right answers.”

And if you’ve ever seen just ten minutes of “Being Mary Jane,” you know her character is messy as hell and rarely makes the right decision.

But, I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy watching her mess. I consistently holler at the screen; but at the end of the day I know quite a few women are battling those same issues, in less dramatic ways.

And Union said that she happens to love playing a character that messy.

“Within one scene I could be, you know, showing a bunch of different colors, and I’ve never been challenged like this. I’ve never been this gratified with my work. Ever.”

That has to be a great feeling.

She continued,

“I don’t want to play perfect characters that are wholesome role models and everything to everyone and have all the right answers and who can get out of a terrorist cell with their bra,” she laughed, referring to a recent episode of ABC’s “Scandal.”

Union said on the day Whitney passed, she was in a meeting with Salim Akil, the executive producer for “Being Mary Jane” and his team. Akil had also directed Houston in Sparkle.

“They had just done ‘Sparkle’ with her. … and there were so many people in that room and we were having this great conversation about basically my career going this great direction with this great character. … and you see this other light just literally go out and you see … everyone’s looking at their phones, you hear people gasp and run out of the room, and it was one of those really life-affirming and life-questioning times.”

Union remembered that she admired the fact that Akil asked the team to end the meeting early. “There’s a lot of producers who would have kept going.”

Union realized that with her characters she wanted to send a more honest message.

“It’s Ok to be a flawed person because we’re all flawed human begin and we’re just doing the best that we can.”

And even though she says watching the sex scenes with her husband Dwyane Wade can get a little uncomfortable, it was the best creative decision she’s made.

“I felt like a lazy actress. … You get complacent, and when the checks are coming in it’s like, ‘Eh, maybe I’ll get to challenge myself next week.’ The next thing you know years have gone by and you’ve not really done anything that feeds your soul.

“And then there’s this.”

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