Celebrity mom, Gabrielle Union is Marie Claire’s latest digital cover star and also one of the internet’s most beloved moms.
Speaking to the magazine, the 47-year-old American A-list actress and mum-of-one, opened up about parenting daughters Kaavia and Zaya, and the joy and inspiration she derives from both.
Kaavia James, is Union’s daughter who she gave birth to via surrogate in 2018, and she will be a central subject of Union’s second memoir, which she’s working on at present.
She’ll open up about her difficult IVF journey and the multiple miscarriages she experienced—as well as the light at the end of the tunnel.
“[Motherhood] looks good on her,” Union’s husband, Dwyane Wade, shared. “This kind of joy is different from anything that she has ever experienced.”
During the interview, Union also spoke about parenting her teenage stepdaughter, Zaya, who came out to the world as trans last year.
On her 13th birthday, Union wrote a moving tribute to her daughter on Instagram, writing,
“You are such an inspiration and motivation to get my butt up everyday and fight. When I’m weary, frustrated, full of rage, I see your face and your joy and you living your best life and I want that for all of us.”
Zaya, according to the Hollywood star has been living as her “authentic self since third grade,” with Union and Wade consulting LGBTQ+ activists, healthcare professionals, and Pose castmembers to ensure they could be the allies Zaya deserved.
“You want your child to feel freedom to be exactly as they are,” Union said. She added, “We are her lifetime lifelines to love, peace, joy, grace, protection, and compassion.”
She went on to speak about her experience as a judge on America’s Got Talent. Union was the highest-performing judge on the show, according to Nielsen ratings—and yet she was dismissed from the show after just one season.
She subsequently alleged that she was fired for calling out on-set racism and raising other concerns about the workplace environment on the show, which the show’s production company adamantly denies. In a new interview with Variety, Union spoke at length about her experience on America’s Got Talent, and why she considered it vital to speak out.
After she left the show, Union filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, describing NBC as a “snake pit of racial offenses” (earlier this month, she and NBC released a statement announcing they’d reached an “amicable resolution”).
Union reflected on the “excessive notes” she received about her appearance, particularly concerning her hair, which producers allegedly called “too wild”—which, she believes, was code for “too Black.”
She told Marie Claire,
“I should be able to exist however the f*** I want to exist, because if you’re hiring Gabrielle Union for my talent, then my talent is going to come out of my body in every way, shape, and incarnation that I can imagine. You’re getting more bang for your buck the more you allow me to exist as I see fit.”
She spoke, too, about the environment she experienced on set, from Simon Cowell smoking indoors despite her serious cigarette smoke allergy, to Jay Leno making a racist joke suggesting Korean people ate dogs, to a stark lack of diversity on the show.
Union said she was unsurprised, albeit disappointed, by the lack of support she received from other Black NBC stars, including Al Roker and Terry Crews.
“These racist institutions and systems have done an amazing job at keeping us very fearful of speaking up, asking for equality, and asking for accountability, because they have shown us time and time again that we are disposable,” she said. “They will discredit and malign you, and you will never work again.…Being blackballed in this industry is very real.”
Moreover, she spoke out against those who called her case against NBC an act of retribution for being fired as a judge on America’s Got Talent.
“That very sentiment is how all of this has been allowed to go on for centuries; that kind of gaslighting, I categorically reject. You are not going to gaslight me into minimizing my trauma, which is exactly what allows this to continue on for the next person,”
Union said age, as well as therapy, allowed her to speak out. After turning 40, she “emptied out [her] basket of f***s,” she said.
“I cannot center fear in my life. I can’t center functioning from a fear of scarcity. They say silence is violence, and I refuse to be complicit in my silence. I have to be fully present in my body and fully free.”