Gabrielle Union’s latest role couldn’t seem further from her own life.
In “The Inspection” “Bring It On” star Ellis plays Inez French, the homophobic mother of a young gay homeless man. Alice joins the Marines, hoping to make her estranged mother proud, but her sexuality leads to violence and abuse at boot camp. Even after graduation, Inez refuses to accept her son’s weirdness, and brutally pressures him into dating girls.
“At first I felt bad that anyone would ever think I could play a character like this,” says Union, 50, an LGBTQ ally and parent of a trans child. “I’m like, ‘What have I ever given that someone would think I could play a homophobic character?
But after reading writer-director Elegance Bratton’s script, Union began to find her way into the character. As a young black actress in a predominantly white industry in the 1990s and early 2000s, the union may be related to Inez’s desire to be seen as “worthy”.
“For years, I didn’t even smile with my upper lip because I thought it was revealing of my blackness,” says Union. At its core, the film is about “all the things you’re willing to exchange for acceptance, and all the soul sacrifices you’ll make to get two small steps forward. For some, that includes sacrificing their children.” ” Too many people truly believe they are helping or saving their children by denying their identity, which ultimately denies their humanity.”
Bratton wrote “Inspection” in an attempt to reconcile his relationship with his mother, who hid the fact that she had a son from friends and co-workers because she was gay. This was the reason he became a filmmaker: “I resolved that ‘You will not ignore me. You will see my name in the paper. You will see my name on the screen. Somebody will ask you if I am you. ‘” Bratton says.
But only three days after the film was greenlit, Breton’s mother was murdered. “I’m still dealing with that grief,” he says. “But I’m grateful for Gabrielle to be the woman who portrayed her, because Gabrielle really made space for me for that part of the process. In a way, by bringing my mother back to life, she gave me that closure.” Gave.” What could my mother not give me when she was alive?”
Union shares two children with her husband, former NBA player Dwyane Wade: daughter Kawia, 4, and stepdaughter Zaya, 15, who came out as transgender in 2020. Endurance at a young age in Pleasanton, Calif.
When Union was 8 years old, her mother took her and her siblings to their first gay pride parade in San Francisco wearing “Straight but Not Narrow-Minded” buttons.
“She always wanted to make sure we were in touch with every community. She didn’t want us to have a [narrow] view of what makes someone good or worthy.” “I’m still following, ‘Love everyone as God’s children,’ and it doesn’t exclude entire parts of the world. That’s how we raise our kids, and so far, it It’s good.”
Union and Wade often hear from other parents of trans kids, who thank the couple for speaking openly about raising and supporting LGBTQ youth.
“There are a lot of parents who are like, ‘I didn’t know how to love my child,'” Union says. “And my husband and I are like, ‘Huh?’ That phrase is so common, it’s heartbreaking.
“We’d gladly love our kids out loud,” she continues. “The bar is on the floor, my goodness. But if it’s really moving people, we take it. We hope more people come to this on their own, and realize that’s really what’s going on for their kids.” What’s up with you.” There’s nothing wrong with loving and accepting them.” Kids are exactly who they are. It’s not our job to force them to be younger versions of us. Your job is to love them and provide them with a safe haven. have to provide.
Union’s advocacy has been inspirational to Pope: “I definitely appreciate how she looks out for her family in real life. It speaks volumes for the LGBTQ community,” he says. But she also believes her powerful dramatic work in “Inspection” will surprise audiences who may know her from comedies like 2003’s “Deliver Us From Eva” and 2012’s “Think Like a Man.”
“I think it’s a turning point in her career, what’s possible and what she’s capable of,” Pope says.
Later this month, Union will compete for the Best Supporting Performance award at the Gotham Awards. “It’s incredibly humbling,” says Union. “I’ve never played a role like this or been accepted like this.”
She hopes to soon share the film with her father, a US Army veteran who has dementia.