Gabrielle Union has previously been vocal about her experience with sexual assault. However, the Bring It On actress admitted she never dealt with the trauma directly until joining the cast of Truth Be Told.
In conversation with Me Too founder, Tarana Burke for Hello Beautiful, Union explained, “I realized during the production, it was like there was a distance from the me that was being raped and brutalized from the me telling the story. As they say, the body remembers. So we’re a couple of days into production, and my body was like, yeah…I was not ready. It was like every day my brain pulled the veil back a little and gave me new pieces of information that it had decided that I could not handle at the time.”
She continued, “I would come home and I would cry every day. I’m not a crier—that is not my ministry. And I would be shaking and crying at the end. There were days it felt like this job is really trying to kill me. It felt like terror. It just stayed that way for five months straight, just straight-up terror in my chest […] and I just sort of described this snapshot for 30 years and through this work and through this job, I got the full picture. I’m not exaggerating to say that if I fully understood it all at 19, I would not be here.”
A 19-year-old Union was assaulted at gunpoint while working at a Payless shoe store. On season three of the hit Apple TV+ series, the mother and wife plays a high school principal named Eva with a “steadfast commitment to raising awareness around missing Black girls in her community.” Coincidentally, she tackled the role upon the 30th anniversary of said rape.
In regards to accepting the role, Union added, “I looked at it as an opportunity to expand the conversation to try to be impactful. I felt like, I’m in a solid place to do this job. What I did not realize is, during my rape, I disassociated. […] There was disbelief and the way I’ve always told it, is as soon as my rapist asked me to hand him his gun is when the me from hovering above me slammed back into the me in my body. And I’ve been free of disassociation since then.”
To move past the trauma once and for all, she and her loved ones went to Malibu where she took part in a West African rebirth ceremony. She felt it was time “to claim my fullness and release who I was so I can embrace who I am and who I will be.”
Truth Be Told is streaming now.