Ageless Gabrielle Union Uses Her Star Power for Good
Photo: Elisabeth Caren/Getty Images
A small town girl from Omaha, Neb., Gabrielle Union is busy these days. The actress, model, and Neutrogena spokesperson is raising three young boys with her fiancé, Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade, and planning an August wedding to boot. I love that Gabrielle is not only beautiful, but she’s also an incredibly strong woman. Gabrielle has been working to empower other women like herself, who have been victims of sexual assault. Here, Gabrielle reveals how she didn’t feel pretty when she was growing up, why she uses her celebrity to help women rather than talk fluff, and the real reason she looks 25 at 41 (Hint: It has nothing to do with plastic surgery.)
BB: What came first, modeling or acting? How did you get started?
GU: I would use the word modeling with single quotation marks around it. It was L.A. modeling, so you have to take it with a grain of salt! When I was at UCLA, I was office help at a modeling agency as an internship. When my internship ended, they asked if would I consider modeling if some of the bookers were interested. I was still working at the bookstore at UCLA making $6.60 per hour, and I had a full course load, so I was like, “Let’s just see what happens.” On my first go-see I booked Seventeen and Sassy. I shot a bunch of editorials with them without a book, without anything. So then the man I had been interning for was like, “Let’s send you on an audition and just see what happens.” And I booked it! Luckily no one asked me along the way, “Do you know what the hell you are doing?” Because I didn’t. Now I kind of know, but I still feel very green and like an outsider. I am still learning.
BB: You are in fantastic shape. Have you always been athletic and healthy? Have you ever even had a weight issue?
GU: I would say in my community, and in the African American culture, it would have been a weight problem, if I was too small or too skinny. My body type was not the ideal of beauty. So when I post on Instagram, some people are like, “Oooh, you need a sandwich!” You can’t please everybody. But I’ve always been a jock. I played basketball, soccer, softball, and I ran track. I played soccer at Nebraska. And you know just kind of having that as my life since I was 5 years old. Thank God for muscle memory! But I work out, but I am not a “nut” about it. Like I work out mainly, because it is part of my job, but not so much to have the poor tailor have to take in or out my clothes every day.
BB: Did you have any self-esteem issues growing up?
GU: Not about my body, more about being a black child in an all white community. I also felt like the blonde was the ideal of beauty, and if I looked nothing like that, then I must be ugly. I had all of the things that come from having low self-esteem and not getting the kind of attention you want, specifically male attention that you want. I was never really looked upon as being pretty. Every girl wants to hear, “You’re a princess,” and people would be like, “You are funny.” or “What a smart girl Gab is!” I was like, I don’t want to be smart! I want to be pretty!
BB: Well that has changed! When I look at pictures of you, you look like you are under 30 not 41! What is your secret? Is it your genes? Is it something you eat? Tell us!