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Gabrielle Union on ‘Being Mary Jane’ and the Need for Positive Images of Women of Color on TV

gabrielunionbaselGabrielle Union took time during her visit to Miami this past week to discuss the return of the one time TV movie “Being Mary Jane.” The debut of the show drew such great feedback and viewership that it catapulted it into a full blown TV series.

The 41-year-old actress spoke with all about her dynamic character that we can all relate to:

“‘[Mary Jane] is the news anchor at a struggling network and is trying to fight the good fight.  She’s putting out hard-hitting stories that affect the community in a good way, inspiring people, but she butts heads with her producer and one of her best friends, Kara, who is more ratings driven and trying to save our jobs basically. She has her family life with her mother that has Lupus, her father’s growing a little dissolution, and her older brother lives at the house with the parents….and his kids who are having kids. The little brother is selling weed, she’s got her love life which is in shambles and all over the place. She is making all kinds of bad decisions. Then she has her life with her friends. She is basically struggling to have it all and failing miserably. Kind of like the rest of us that want it all and don’t let ourselves off the hook when we are not perfect and sh* t happens.’

So which similarities could someone like Gabby — who seemingly has the perfectly charmed life with a huge career and baller boyfriend to boot — have to her character?  She revealed:

‘The desire to be perfect but falling short. Not giving myself a break in terms of, like, it’s ok to not get it right all the time. It’s ok to fall short. Certainly in my youth, I didn’t always make the best romantic decisions. A woman searching for it all and trying to figure it out.’

And yes, Gabby says dramas like “Being Mary Jane” (she’s also a big fan of her friend Kerry Washington’s “Scandal“) are necessary to balance out all those catty black & latina-focused reality shows stating:

‘Oh my goodness. Not only do women need it, you need to see that women can work together, they can be a team together, they can have a friendship together and they can have conflict but conflict resolution doesn’t have to be disrespectful and crazy. We show conflict resolution that is compassionate and respectful. Black Women and Latinas need to see ourselves accurately on television without it being this, you know violent unfortunate cat fight & crabs in a barrel.

But the reality is that reality TV is not real. I know a lot of these women and that’s not who they really are. They are edited and produced in a way. And the conflict is manufactured and we all are sort of consuming it as real. We start to believe that black women can’t be friends with other Black women and that Black women can’t be friends with Latinas and that’s not the everyday truth.'”

Reality TV has practically damaged the image of the strong Black woman and replaced it with women in contempt, in and out of scandals and submissive to men that are flat out unworthy of their time and energy. Which is why Gabrielle Union’s TV movie turned series is highly anticipated and welcomed by women within the African American community who are eager to see a woman in their likeness.

“Being Mary Jane” returns to BET for a full season on Jan. 7  at 10 p.m. EST.

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