During the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon, Gabrielle Union stood up to give a powerfully honest speech about growing up and trying to make it in the industry while dealing with self-esteem issues. She admits to reveling in other women's shortcomings, succumbing to catty feelings and accepting the negativity that often holds Black actors behind just for the chance to get a step up in Hollywood.
"We live in a town that rewards pretending," Union said. "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 OK, as long as I’m considered."
"So many of us in this room are sisters," she continued. "We don't always get to see each other and it's good to see you here today. Women who we've laughed with, cried with and struggled with, thank you for not turning your backs on me, thank you for not tap dancing on my misery, even when I wasn't always returning the favor."
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(Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)