I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: We need to talk about Gabrielle Union.
The actress just turned 45 this week (seriously: not a typo), and we’re bursting with reasons to celebrate her. Union, who’s been a Hollywood fixture since the '90s, this month released her first book, a collection of autobiographical essays called We’re Going to Need More Wine ($16; amazon.com). And I can reliably speak for 99 percent of readers when I say it f—in’ blew our minds.
If the newly minted author wasn’t your ride-or-die already (hey there, Being Mary Jane fans), this book is going to make her your hero. I’ve never been a religious person, but I imagine this is how people feel when they find salvation, or Netflix, or whatever.
Without further adieu, here are the best revelations from Union’s new book—but don’t think this means you can get out of reading it!
Her Bring It On Character Began as a Caricature—Until She Stepped in
“…When I got the script for the table read, my character, Isis, was a combination of Foxy Brown and eight other Blaxploitation characters squeezed into a skintight cheerleader uniform,” Union writes. “There were all these made-up slang words.”
Gabrielle shared a line from the original script: “Ossaywhattawhattawhat? Me-ow. Me gonna ow you. My nails are long, sharp, and ready to slash.” Oof.
To combat the over-the-top dialogue, Union sat down with director Peyton Reed and helped rewrite lines.
She Became Good Friends with Prince
The late singer used to host elaborate and star-studded dinner parties, to which Gabrielle was often invited.
“He was also funny,” Gabrielle says of the Purple Rain musician, “repeating phrases he found comical, like ‘I’m not sayin,’ I’m just sayin.’’ Melodic punch lines, over and over, keeping us all laughing.”
In fact, she credits her marriage to Wade to Prince. She met the basketball player’s brother at the musician’s 2007 Golden Globes party. And upon learning Wade was a big fan of hers, she agreed to co-host a Super Bowl party with him later that year. Cue the ~fireworks~!
Gabrielle Met Unfair Assumptions on the Set of Friends
Union, one of two black guest stars on 10 seasons of Friends, was eager to add some diversity to the sitcom. However, one of the directors alienated her on set, underestimating her experience when she’d been acting for years.
“The director was a regular, he did a lot of episodes. He went over the scene with David Schwimmer, Matt Perry, and the extras. Then he turned to me, and his tone completely changed,” she writes. “’Do you know what a mark is?’ he said in a singsong voice. ‘You stay on that so the camera can see you.’ It was like he was talking to a toddler. He assumed on sight that I didn’t know a single thing.”
“His tone was so condescending, as if I had just wandered in off the street or won a contest for a Friends walk-on,” she continues. “I had four films under my belt that had either opened at No. 1 at the box office at number two behind blockbusters like the freaking Matrix.
She Cherishes Her Bond with the Late Heath Ledger
Gabrielle describes the Australian Oscar winner as a truly great and memorable character among her 10 Things I Hate About You castmates. "He opened his mouth and he was James Bond," she said of initially meeting the then-unknown actor.
"I don't want to overstate my own bond with Heath," she continues, "because every single one of us shared it. Whenever I tan into him in L.A. after 10 Things, it was like we had just wrapped yesterday. There was never the weird Hollywood distance that creeps in. His loss was a death in the family that all of us felt equally."
Her Favorite Show (That She Doesn’t Star on) Is Nashville
In the latter half of the book, Union shares that she and husband Dwayne Wade have to watch the CMT drama together. Gab is a loyal binge-watcher and plans each viewing to a T: “We always assemble our snacks beforehand because we don’t want to get up during the show. It’s all about being able to barrel through the episode.” Amen. “And of course we have our phones beside us, too, so we can tweet about Nashville, which is almost as good as watching Nashville,” she shares. Game respects game—we like your style, Gabrielle.
For more from the incredible Gabrielle Union, shop her brilliant book—seriously, do it!