After Gabrielle Union took a small, non-speaking role as a slave who is raped in the film Birth of a Nation, she wrote in a Los Angeles Times op-ed that she hoped her character could represent "countless black women who have been and continue to be violated. Women without a voice, without power. Women in general. But black women in particular."
At the start, it looked like the movie was destined for big things. It was generating acclaim on the festival circuit, and even Oscar buzz, but when the details of director Nate Parker's 1999 sexual assault case resurfaced, the film never recovered from the controversy.
In a new interview with Harper's Bazaar, Union, who has been open about her own past with sexual assault, is lamenting what happened with the movie, and the rest of the people involved in making it.
"It's like we all got thrown out. It's like the baby and the bathwater all went down the drain," Union told the magazine, after noting that it was particularly upsetting that the performance of Aja Naomi King, who plays Nat Turner's wife Cherry, ended up being overlooked. "This could have been her big break. This big job that gives her the accolades and attention that she deserves."
Union also spoke on the "tiring" experience of being a black woman in Hollywood, and the "bullshit" that goes along with that, saying that it means being either "hyper-visible or invisible" on movie sets.
She also talked to the magazine about calling out other women in Hollywood on their "white girl privilege." From the interview:
Union also has no problem calling out white Hollywood starlets, such as Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer and Kate Upon, on their "white girl privilege"—like when Upton Instagrammed her condemnation of Colin Kaepernick for taking a kneel during the national anthem in protest against racial injustice and police brutality ... Union has already had one productive conversation with Dunham, she says, and to the other ladies, she has suggested one or more conversations in which she might "help to explain the oppressive systems that have benefited and allowed them to say these careless, insensitive and offensive things."
Union stars alongside Danny Glover in the comedy Almost Christmas, which came out Nov. 11.