Gabrielle Union on the Moment She Knew She Had to Speak Truth to Power

"I'd rather be this authentic, whole self and take some blows than a shell of myself and have hollow victories."

Gabrielle Union
(Image credit: NBC)

As part of Marie Claire's Power On virtual summit, actress Gabrielle Union sat down for a live conversation with journalist Lola Ogunnaike.

Gabrielle Union is done staying silent about issues that matter.

During an appearance at Marie Claire's Power On summit, the virtual version of the brand's annual Power Trip networking conference for female leaders, Union spoke via video chat with journalist Lola Ogunnaike—who penned Marie Claire's October cover story about Union—about her commitment to using her voice in impactful ways. Here are some highlights from the conversation, which closed out the Power On conference.

On how turning 40 changed her perspective:

"You know, by the time I turned 40, I realized that I had been so paralyzed by the fear of public humiliation, the fear of scarcity, and the fear of failure that I became the most inauthentic version of myself. And there's nothing that the world can do to me that life hasn't already handed me."

On becoming her authentic self:

"This very full basket of f*cks? I'm gonna go ahead and empty that and I just don't care. No one can take anything away from me at this point but my soul, and I'm the only one that is the keeper of my soul. So when I emptied that basket of f*cks, I was like, I'm going to always speak truth to power, I'm always going to lead from the front, I will always use myself as an example. Because if not me, then who? And I'd rather be this authentic, whole self and take some blows than a shell of myself and have hollow victories."

On the importance of speaking out as a Black woman:

"The longer that we stay silent, the longer we are complicit in our own pain and trauma. And so, if you want something different, you have to do something different. You have to actually be willing to speak up, stick your neck out, cosign. I recognize that we are not all built to lead from the front. But there's other ways you can contribute to the fight. You can stand beside someone, you can amplify a message, you can anonymously confirm what you've witnessed. Because otherwise, people are going to think that everything is working and you're a-okay, which we're not."

Read the Cover Story

Gabrielle Union

(Image credit: Marie Claire)
Kayleigh Roberts
Weekend Editor

Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her byline has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic, Allure, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Bustle, Refinery29, Girls’ Life Magazine, Just Jared, and Tiger Beat, among other publications. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.