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Gabrielle Union Perfect Holiday Interview

3BlackChicks Review™... The Perfect Holiday - The Interviews (The Diva)

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Gabrielle Union
Star of
The Perfect Holiday (2007)









Question: Describe your perfect christmas?

Gabrielle Union: Actually it’s going to be this Christmas. Me, Essence Atkins, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Regina Hall are going to Africa. We’re going as part of this travel show that’s taping different African Americans going back to Africa and it’s call “ The Home Coming” We’re spending two weeks all around South Africa and for me that is going tobe the perfect Christmas.

Question: That sounds very untraditional, what is a traditional Christmas like for you?

Gabrielle Union: There is nothing really traditional. Now my family is blended, my father got remarried. My mom became a foster mom at 60. So it’s kinda taken on a whole different meaning depending on who I’m with and where I’m at. My dad and my stepmother love to have Christmas in Hawaii. So I spend Christmases on the beach having Hawaiian pork, And in Omaha now Christmas with a baby which we haven’t had – certainly no one in my family has had a baby in a long time. So now there is Christmas with babies and little people and its just kind of become whatever we make it and this ear, I’m just going to do my own thing. This is also normal for my family, there’s no such thing as typical.

Question: Speaking of little people; The actress who play the little girl Emily her name is Khail, right?

Gabrielle Union: Right.

Question: Talk about the dynamic of working with the children because you don’t have children, right?

Gabrielle Union: No no no. Not even close. I do not have children. So it’s me watching my sister who has 3 kids and my girlfriend who has 3 kids and my mom who has 3 kids – 3 daughters all with very distinct personalities and I try to be as mother like – ish – esque as possible without having that experience on my own, but trained to teach each of them like intelligent individuals. And they found kids who are not totally seasoned. They aren’t like trained little seals. A lot of their reactions are real reactions. The first time they see the Christmas tree we are in a real mall with real other children wanting to see Santa and then they want to see Santa. (as an aside to the children) “You know we’re shooting this right?” So a lot of their reactions are real and they’re not these seasoned Hollywood kids and they are real and great and well behaved.

Question: Do you listen to your girlfriends when they say “hey, that’s the guy” or “no not him”?

Gabrielle Union: You know, they’ve never not liked somebody. Even when they should have not liked somebody. I pretty much never pick shady or borderline people. Usually their like “Oh he’s a great guy.” And later when I start to see things, they’re like “oh give him a chance!” I don’t really have busy body friends. Apparently I have millions of busy body friends on the internet that I should listen to. But the people I really know? No.

Question: If a stranger came up to you and gave you a compliment, would you be able to take it graciously?

Gabrielle Union: You mean a straight up compliment? Then yeah, but sometimes people say things that they think are compliments inside, but “You look prettier in person!” so I look like crap on t.v….? or “You look skinnier! You look lighter! You look darker!” or “You look really pretty for a black girl!” and I know that somewhere inside they think these are nice things to say. And I get that one with the eyebrows raised like I’m a cheetah. “look at the nice Cheetah!” “ you are pretty for a black girl!” “You are so articulate!”

Question: I guess the trick is to leave out the superlatives.

Gabrielle Union: Yes! “ Oh you look nice today” I would take that gladly.

Question: Is there a big expectation with you being a big star to give expensive gifts? What is the worst gift you’ve ever gotten or given?

Gabrielle Union: Gotten or given?

Question: Both.

Gabrielle Union: Well apparently I jack it up each Christmas. I don’t know the difference between a PS2 or 3 or the Nintendo DS or a Wii. I just go on Target.com and have at it. Last year I gave gift certificates so they could get what they wanted. This year I’m going to be the hero because I got them Guitar Hero or whatever, don’t ask me what version. [ Lana. I’m going to omit this just in case her family reads it, I don’t want Christmas spoiled]

Apparently I mess it up every year. I had no idea that my nephew was off of football and into skating. I thought I was doing GREAT things getting them Hannah Montana tickets.

My nephews were like, “She’s a girl! That’s ..” well I can’t tell you what they said, but “That’s Blank” and I was like do you know what I had to do to get you these tickets?

Question: What do you want for Christmas? What would make you happy?

Gabrielle Union: I stopped asking, you know? I’m in a different place than everyone else in my family. Last year I needed a new roof, but I can’t ask for that. So I just tell everyone, “whatever you want me to have.” “I’d love for you to buy me cleaning supplies so I don’t have to shop for cleaning supplies.” Tube socks. Those are always helpful. You know simple things. Things you can get at the grocery store, but I don’t ask for anything anymore. One year my dad got me pot holders, but they were Christmas pot holders, so I couldn’t have them out all the time and I had just gotten him a car. The gift of giving is enough. I’m cool.

Question: Have you had an imperfect Holiday?

Gabrielle Union: They’re all imperfect. Somebody is gonna get drunk and start talking about past hurts; then mom didn’t like me enough or liked you better – or whatever. Its always something. So I think I like perfectly imperfect holidays. Certainly in my family. Last year it was the Limoncello we were like “Danny DeVito is on to something!” And we bought a bunch of Limoncello and we got hammered and people just got real honest.

And not everyone wants to hear, that apparently

Question: You have a unique siense of humor. Have you found a script that taps into that?

Gabrielle Union: You know, I’m doing ugly betty and just finished my part of the episode Some of the writers have worked with me before. It’s the closest to what things I think are funny. I’m such a fan of the show that they kinda allowed me to be different than Vanessa – I play her sister with a mysterious past – but it’s very close to my own sense of humor. But never like what I am in real life. I’m a little blue. I am more blue than people would imagine.

Question: You are consistently working which puts you in a class above a lot. Is it getting better for black women and women in general?

Gabrielle Union: Um. I think its more of the timing of how things come out. And it gives the illusion that we all work more than we may. No. I would love to set here and say “Oh it’s so great!”

Gabrielle Union: There are some opportunities but this year more any that I can remember in recent history where there were roles written specifically African American and end up not. I forget what her name was, but it was like the character’s name was Tanisha Jenkins and end up Zoe something. It was a great role and I loved and I was like “I want this! This is great! I’m not somebody’s sassy friend; I’m not the asexual neighbor; I’m not the Confucius all knowing sidekick. This is a great role” and then it went away then it happened 10 more times where the roles were written African American – which is rare. And then they tell you, “if we go black, you’re on a short list.” And I’m like “damn, it’s not if we go black, it’s you. It’s your on the short list.”

Question: Can you name some of the projects?

Gabrielle Union: No because I need these people. I need to be somebody’s sassy friend when the mortgage comes around. But you know it’s hard and it’s a struggle, there are so many of us who are hustling and who are talented and in the prime of what they do and there’s just not enough work to go around. Plain and simple. I thin its like anyone else in a skilled profession finding themselves out of work and competing all the time. There’s not enough jobs and a lot of talented and qualified people. It just seems like I’m working more than I do, because I tend to do studio films with wider distribution. There are a lot of people who do indies – lots of them. But you do see them and then you’re like mmuph she fell off. No she didn’t she’s just not doing the 3,000 theater releases. It’s hard and it’s a struggle everyday and I’m producing now. Sanaa is producing, Regina Hall is producing, Nia is producing. We’re trying to option books. I spend more time in Barnes and Noble and Borders reading and trying to option things just trying to create opportunities for me and people know and respect.

It’s just a dog fight.

Question: Can you talk about what it was like working with Dana?

Gabrielle Union: El Jefe? You couldn’t ask for a better boss. Here is someone who has been where you are and she’s you boss. Se and Shakim called and I was literally on the beach in Miami. They asked if I wanted to come work and we’ve been trying to work together for years, but I was like “Oooo I don’t want to have kids,,, oh come on is there something else. Please???” I think this is perfect for you we haven’t seen you like this before. I think it’s a great opportunity for you and I was like, “you’re right, maybe I do need to step out of my box a little” s and she was right, it was an amazing experience. Just the small things like as an African American actress, a lot of times you end up in a set when you are the only one who looks like you in front of or behind the camera. And you say, “I need someone who knows how to do my hair” and they say ‘Oh she knows how to do your hair” and then I’m like “Wait a minute, does she have a pressing comb that goes into an oven? And does she know how to use it so I don’t end up missing patches around my hair line .” We’ve already done that and I’m in a precarious situation with some bald spots here and I don’t have the luxury of experimenting. But Dana was like “Oh no no we got you. Hair and Make up. Don’t worry” it’s little things like that, that people don’t think about, but she does because she’s been there. Is there water in your trailer? Not crazy stuff like flavored water and green skittles, but just water. You know what do you need so that you are comfortable and confident and can put in a 12 hour day and get the best performance out of you. She understands that. And she gives us that. And she’s not crazy and she’s not screaming. She gives us what we need and she’s just Dana – EL Jefe. And pretty awesome.

Question: How many Ugly Betty episodes are you doing?

Gabrielle Union: It’s 3 Guaranteed and then 5 maybe more, but it depends on how long the strike lasts and my availability.

Question: I know you like working in television and maybe this can turn into something long term?

I love those people and they always have pilots that their doing. Which is how I came across Ugly Betty – working with Marco Pennette on footballers wives, last year and Jim Hayman who was one of our directors on Night Stalker.

It’s sort of like everyone comes full circle and they keep you working and ABC is very supportive. Maybe not on Ugly Betty, but in the ABC/Touchstone family.

Question: Going back to making your own opportunities is the long term solution writing your own scripts or starting your own production companies?

Gabrielle Union: I’m not a writer, Regina [Hall] is and I’m trying to option a script from her and her writing partner right now. But Regina has her side producing thing. It’s just about finding the works and bring them to life. And attaching as many people that you know to it. And try to create the best opportunity for everybody. That seems to be the only way you can ensure work for yourself. You have to use the Mekhi Pfiffer Model. He was doing all thes smaller budget movies and I was like “alrighty then, good luck Mekhi. Good luck with that” and at the time his came to me and said he was doing this picture called “This Christmas” and I was like I already have “Perfect Christmas” which is what it was called and he’s my neighbor so I see him grocery shopping. So cut to their HUGE opening and I’m like good job Mehki, sooooo… what else do you have coming up? How’d you do this? He told me baby steps baby steps. I learned how to do all f this working on those small films you laughed at me about and then I got the opportunity with the great script and he was instrumental in assembling the cast and getting the director and putting ti together and you see the results.

Question: Why this film?

Gabrielle Union:I’ve never done a film were I’ve gotten to explore motherhood. In “Something the lord Made” I had kids, but you never really saw them – I was aging throughout the movie so they just weren’t in the picture and having had a hand in the rearing of my sister’s kids. And being an integral part in the life of my girlfriend who is raising 3 children on her own. I understand and appreciate and respect the struggle and it’s a character that I’ve never done. And the fact that she only wants a compliment. And I get that. And losing the balance where you give something everything and you’re at a deficit. And I was looking at my sister and my friend and they give so much to their family that they leave nothing for themselves and I try to tell them that they are much better parent when they’re happy. You know when you have other things that feed you and other passions. I try to tell them that this isn’t going to take away from their family and it will only make them better mothers.

Question:Any other movies you’re working on?

Gabrielle Union:No this is it. I’m back on the hustle and hoping some of these roles stay black.


Copyright Kamal "The Diva" Larsuel-Ulbricht, 2007 - Present
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