We're Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union
Published: 2017 by Dey Street Books
Genre: Essays, Memoir
Kindle: 264 pages
In the spirit of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, and Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist, a powerful collection of essays about gender, sexuality, race, beauty, Hollywood, and what it means to be a modern woman.
One month before the release of the highly anticipated film The Birth of a Nation, actress Gabrielle Union shook the world with a vulnerable and impassioned editorial in which she urged our society to have compassion for victims of sexual violence. In the wake of rape allegations made against director and actor Nate Parker, Union—a forty-four-year-old actress who launched her career with roles in iconic ’90s movies—instantly became the insightful, outspoken actress that Hollywood has been desperately awaiting. With honesty and heartbreaking wisdom, she revealed her own trauma as a victim of sexual assault: "It is for you that I am speaking. This is real. We are real."
In this moving collection of thought provoking essays infused with her unique wisdom and deep humor, Union uses that same fearlessness to tell astonishingly personal and true stories about power, color, gender, feminism, and fame. Union tackles a range of experiences, including bullying, beauty standards, and competition between women in Hollywood, growing up in white California suburbia and then spending summers with her black relatives in Nebraska, coping with crushes, puberty, and the divorce of her parents. Genuine and perceptive, Union bravely lays herself bare, uncovering a complex and courageous life of self-doubt and self-discovery with incredible poise and brutal honesty. Throughout, she compels us to be ethical and empathetic, and reminds us of the importance of confidence, self-awareness, and the power of sharing truth, laughter, and support.
"This kind of feels like a first date."
I first watched Union in the movie "10 Things I Hate About You" from the late 90s. I knew she was a working actress but I didn't see a lot of her stuff. But I'd heard good things about this collection of essays and I also love wine so I gave it a try.
I'm so glad I did. Union holds back no punches on her experiences as a black woman in American and Hollywood. She jumps around from growing up in white suburbia California to spending summers with extended family in Nebraska. She talks candidly about the microaggressions she dealt with being one of the only black kids at her high school, her sexual assault while at work, dealing with the pettiness of Hollywood and random people on the streets thinking they can co-opt her time whenever they want.
She also shares fun stories about working on various sets and the closeness she felt for everyone she's worked with.
I must admit there were many times I felt the sting of being white. There were stories that were very uncomfortable for me. I grew up in a very isolated white community and think back to my insensitive and ignorant comments. Yikes. Or how I haven't seen in her much in movies over the last 10 years or so....well, that's my own damn fault. She's been working in movies but not for mainstream white audiences like me. I'm the one that hasn't stretched myself out to see her movies.
I loved her story about reading Judy Blume. That's how she learned about her period and what it all means! "...repeat after me: I resolve to embrace my sexuality and my freedom to do with my body parts as I see fit. And I will learn about my body so I can take care of it and get the pleasure I deserve. I will share that information with anyone and everyone, and not police the usage of any vagina but my own. So help Judy Blume."
She opens up about empowering those younger and mentoring the generation to come. "Women like Regina King, Tichina Arnold...went out of their way to mentor and educate the next generation. That empowerment is why we have Taraji P. Henson, Kerry Washington, Viola Davis...starring in TV shows and producing films. That creates more work for the next woman up. That's what can happen when we mentor and empower. That's what happens when we realize that any joy we find in the next woman's pain or struggle is just a refelction of our won pain...Instead, I want to heal her and me."
"At the end, we are our stories, some shared and some lived alone."
Her shout out to her mother on how she is raising another relative's children: "I see you, Mom. I see what you are doing for these kids, and how you keep them together. I give you respect, because nobody is going to give you praise for doing what black women have done forever, raising kids who are not their own."
"There are so many more people than you realize...people who look up to the same sun and the moon and the stars. It's your birthright to explore this world. It's only as small as you make it."
I loved her stories and her bravery for sharing her very personal experiences with all of us.