Gabrielle Union combines glamour with activism to lobby for better laws to protect women
CAIRO: With Shokran ana baheb Misr (Thank you, I love Egypt) American guest star Gabrielle Union broke the ice at a Cairo International Film Festival Conference organized in her honor.
Although Union s relatively small roles in mainstream American blockbusters Bad Boys II (2003) and Bring It On (2000), have made her face barely recognizable outside the US, in her home country, she s more than just a pretty face on the screen.
An outspoken activist, Union used the traumatic experience of falling victim to rape at 19 to help other victims survive and overcome their suffering.
At the conference she recalled how she went to Congress to lobby for tougher laws to protect women from rape.
She also raises money to help impoverished neighborhoods and people.
Essence Atkins, an actor and Union s friend, described her during the conference as “an authentic, funny intelligent, real person, a survivor and a fighter, who has worked with the public to help and heal those who are like her.
But as her career suggests, Union isn t always serious. In her latest appearance on Oprah focused on surviving sexual assault but she stressed at the conference that she uses the fame to speak about issues of concern.
Her sense of humor, relaxed attitude and confident smile combines intelligence with celebrity glamour.
On her first visit to Egypt, Union said she would take the chance to know more about the local cinema industry.
She said: The face of the US is a changing one, and there are different people whose stories are not being told. She referred to her participation in the festival saying that These are important voices so, hopefully, through these festivals, we can join these voices and make sure that they are heard.
This passion for untold stories has had its effect on her career choices
Since women are usually raised to be polite and well spoken, Union explained, she loves being given the opportunity to act differently.
Her role in the movie “Deliver us from Eva is a perfect example of such a role. She plays Eva, is a sardonic, aggressive, outspoken woman feared by all. Her character as head cheerleader in the teen movie “Bring it on is not quite as hostile, but she also portrays a figure of leadership and authority that emanates power and intimidation.
Even her brief appearance in the popular sitcom Friends was unconventional.
Manhattan is the most diverse city in the world, but unfortunately that aspect wasn’t present in the sitcom. The diversity of Manhattan was became apparent because I was the first African American guest star to be on the show, she said.