Who’s Shining? Gabrielle Union is

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Women of color have proven to be some of the most talented, intelligent, radiant, and poised women alive. Gabrielle Union, actress, activist, and former model, is no exception.

We have all come to know and love Union over the years. She has played the endearing love interest in hit box office films while also capturing roles of grit and action. We learned on a recent airing of Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Next Chapter that, behind the scenes, Union has struggled with some of the core tenets of worth like altruism, reciprocity, and magnanimity. And, her past experience with sexual abuse made her victimhood a prominent feature in her outlook of others.

The Difficulty of “Shining” in Hollywood

At the Essence Magazine’s sixth annual Black Women in Hollywood pre-Oscars luncheon, Union received the 2013 Fierce and Fearless Award. And, instead of putting on a safe face for an audience of her peers, she decided to be totally honest, naked in a sense, baring her true feelings, emotions, vulnerabilities, and past perceptions of her status as a black woman in Hollywood.

Some of the most powerful words from Union have been her self-description as someone “going from sexual assault victim to rape survivor.” Many times, going through a personal trauma or struggle, maybe not as personal or violating as sexual assault, causes individuals to internalize the violence or pain they experienced. Even a loss can cause this type of self-deprecating reaction. And, once these feelings are internalized, they manifest themselves in our interactions with others. Union is courageous in making it plain that she too, a well-known actress and symbol of beauty, faced difficulty in overcoming her personal demons. And, it was that honesty that helped her move past it.

Union also divulged that she was living with some of the same feelings of mediocrity and jealousy that many of us normal people struggle with on a daily basis. Union described herself as, at one point, a “mean, vindictive, hateful person.” She describes an event when she spent time personally tearing down another woman as an indication of her own struggle with her self-worth.

“Being Mary Jane” and the Complexity of Self-Worth

Her messages as of recent have been quite powerful. She has continued this theme of authenticity and introspection in her recent BET hit movie, “Being Mary Jane.” The film, which garnered over 4 million viewers during its premiere last week, depicts a thirty-something, black professional woman named “Mary Jane”, played by Union. As she traverses single life of dating, booty calls, a longing for children, and struggles in the workplace, she illustrates the diverse nature of her vast community.

A different role for Union, she described it as understanding that “the idea of having it all is a myth. You can have a lot and be happy in some areas of your life, but for everything to be working on full cylinders and to be 100 percent, I’ve given up on that. I make the attempt to string together some perfect moments and just let myself off the hook that I’m not going to hit it out of the park everyday.” That is a refreshing image to share with the world.

Overall, Gabrielle Union has made some serious public and private changes in her life over the years. Those changes are apparent in her radiance, poise, grace, and eloquence. It seems now that she walks a bit taller, smiles just a bit wider, and feels much more deeply. Her message of embracing herself, including her past, is one we highly value here at The Worth Campaign. And, her willingness to bare her true self before a judgmental audience of critics and fans alike has been met with nothing but respect and adulation.

Why is Gabrielle Union shining? Because, frankly, we are proud of her and what she has become. She has grown and matured beyond the surface beauty that she no doubt possesses. She is now becoming the violet she was always meant to be.