- Gabrielle Union- Being Mary Jane
Gabrielle Union- Being Mary JaneWe all know her winning smile and youthful presence. Gabrielle Union is a Hollywood darling and basketball bride-to-be but few people know just how in touch she is with her spiritual practice and self development. We all know how shallow Hollywood can be, however Gabrielle has somehow managed to stay the course and remain grounded. Over the years she has become even more tapped into her personal power- her inner glow. I sat down with the star of the new BET series- Being Mary Jane to dive into her ideas about love, compassion, forgiveness, relationships, and what its like being Gabrielle Union.
MG: What is the premise of the new series Being Mary Jane? What do you want the audience to take away from the show?
GU: The premise of Being Mary Jane is one woman’s journey towards “having it all”. It’s an eternal search we are all looking for, for this perfect life that just doesn’t exist. And along the way, you see every up and every down, all of her joys and all of her sorrows, all of her hits and all of her misses as she realizes that having it all is a myth and it’s about having a good enough life that gives you consistent joy.
The take away that I hope the audience able to transport is that they can put themselves in Mary Jane’s shoes. We always talk about how we don’t have any images of our authentic self in television and I think that Mary Jane is us staring ourselves in the face. We can relate to her and other characters in some aspect of our lives and that’s a joy.
I was speaking with Lisa Vidal, who plays my one of my best friend and producer on the show. We were speaking about the relationship between black women and Latinas as it’s reflected on television. Reality television would have you believe that black women and Latinas are mortal enemies, that we are unsupportive and don’t know how to work as a team. On Being Mary Jane you see strong female relationships, not that are perfect, not that are without conflict, but you see conflict resolution that’s dealt with compassion and respect and understanding- which is missing from television. Even though its a fictitious show I think it will ring true.
MG: What would you say about the idea of creating sisterhood? In your own life how do you maintain balance in your personal life?
GU: A lot of it has to do with eliminating bullshit people from my life. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become intolerant of shenanigans, I have very little time for any unnecessary strife or drama. Over the years I’ve straight up without remorse eliminated a lot of people who drained me, who are takers, who are users, the people who are emotional and spiritual users, and the essence drainers- a lot of times these people can be family members. No more “frenemies”, no more keep your enemies close. I only have time and space in my life for dope, positive, amazing people. When you keep great people around you, you have no choice but to have amazing relationships. You have to recognize where your line in the sand is and what it takes for you to be happy. Also what does it take for you to be a happy friend so that you can also be supportive. Remember to keep that circle tight.
MG: It’s so key to eliminate what doesn’t work. That’s an especially powerful message for our readers in the new year. With all of your jet-setting, working, how do you juggle your priorities with family life?
GU: I wish there was one neat answer but the truth is my balancing act is constantly in flux. I have learned to be flexible and know that not every area of my life will be 100% so every day I try to do a little bit better than I did the day before. A lot of it is compassionate planning and compromise…
MG: Wait a minute…Unpack that a little bit, that’s amazing- what is compassionate planning?
GU: You have to be compassionate to yourself and understand that it’s ok to put yourself first. You know how when you’re on a plane they say put on your oxygen mask first before assisting others? Sometimes when it comes to planning, you have to put your needs first. That’s ok, I have to take care of myself. Some days compassionate planning means understanding that someone in your life needs a little extra, so you’re going to have to pull from other resources to throw a little extra love or compassion to the person or area in your life that needs it more. But in general it’s about is letting yourself and others off the hook, and understanding that we are not perfect.
Compassionate compromise, it’s all about a give and take. It’s about finding those places in your life where you can have true partnership and true true partnerships have compromise. I can’t be 100% all the time in our household and Dwayne is not going to always be 100% so in order for us to adequately juggle our careers and our family we have to step in and help each other out and pull each other up when we need to compromise so we get enough of it done. By enough of it, I mean getting our needs met, getting our touching in, our loving in, but also make peace with meeting in the middle.
MG: Do you think that practicing compassionate compromise makes a relationship stronger?
GU: Yeah, this is something we are learning that has made our relationship stronger…Recognizing that I am not always right and neither is the other person. It’s not about lowering expectations but managing expectations…I am not super woman and I don’t claim to be, he is not superman and he does not claim to be. A lot of us tend to go through life with this façade that we have all of the answers, we are always doing everything just right, we are always giving 110%, we have decided to let that go. I can’t be some weird fantasy of what a woman, mother, wife should be. The fact that we are doing this now is strengthening our relationship for whatever comes down the line.
Gabrielle recently got engaged to longtime boyfriend Dwayne Wade
MG: What are your rituals as a couple that help you maintain your connection and bond given your busy lives?
GU: Our communication has increased by 1000%. We communicate whether text, email, phone calls, FaceTime, Skype, getting on flights, going to sleep. We don’t allow the connection to drop. Before we used to not be so vigilant and now we just don’t allow for that gap in communication. So much of what goes into our life together, our planning, and co-parenting is about communication.
MG: You describe Dwayne as your best friend, what are the qualities you believe are important to have in a best friend?
GU: …Mutual interests, the ability to laugh, a sense of adventure, and the capacity for forgiveness.
MG: Can you recall some instances in your life where you have really practiced forgiveness?
GU: My parent’s divorce for example…my parents got divorced after almost 30 years of marriage when I was in my early 20s, and this idea of every time something happens you have to place blame… that there is a “good guy” and a “bad guy” and we like to join forces against the bad guy and damn them to eternal hell. As I was older I realized that my dad wasn’t a superhero and that he makes mistakes and that I was judging him for making mistakes that I was also capable of making. You can find a reason to demonize everyone and instead of condemning I embraced forgiveness. I forgive him for just being a human being and not begin the superhero that I put him on a pedestal to be.
That allowed me to be forgiving of myself when I went through my divorce. I made some terrible choices, I was an awful wife, but I am becoming a different person, I want to be a different person. I am learning from my mistakes and actions and I forgive myself. Every situation doesn’t need a bad guy or a villain. People make mistakes, things happen. How do you look at people and see their humanity and see yourself in them? This is true empathy, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes which allows for more forgiveness, which allows for more evolution and growth.
MG: You’re on a new path with your diet and lifestyle, which I am thrilled about. What are some additions to your healthy diet that you love?
GU: Well, I am embracing a more organic diet, organic produce and foods without the hormones. I am just incorporating a healthy palate into my life but it’s hard for someone who loves bacon as much as I do…But its small things like juicing and buying locally grown produce, I am eating a lot healthier. I am juicing and my favorite juice- which is staining everything is beets, kale, ginger, lemon, apple. Gab’s greens.
MG: What are your glow tips for luminous living?
GU: I guess these are the things that have helped me most in obtaining my goals, having a successful career, and having a good relationship, or trying something new.
1. The Art of NO- practice it often. Don’t be afraid of using the word!
2. Creating healthy boundaries- know where your line in the sand is.
3. Managing expectations.
Don’t miss Gabrielle Union starring in Being Mary Jane, Tuesday January 7th 10pm/ 9pm Central on BET