Gabrielle Union recalls a time when she was one of the few token Black girls in Hollywood. If a movie was in need of an actress of color, Gabrielle was one of the few that they kept in rotation.
“I’ve been the one chip in the cookie long enough. I don’t want to be the magical Negro,” she explained to Ebony magazine. “I don’t feel extra special when the White gaze is upon me. I don’t feel invincible,” added Gabby who appears on the cover of the mag’s April/May issue.
Over the years there have been several African American actresses to come to front including Kerry Washington, Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Regina King, and even Gabrielle Union herself with ‘Being Mary Jane’. With Scandal and Being Mary Jane come to an end this year, she fears that the gap will widen again.
“I don’t want to be there by myself; in fact, I don’t want there to be two or three people in the room and have someone shout, ‘We’ve achieved diversity!’ No, there’s three. It’s like we’re supposed to be a microcosm of the world. I don’t want to be a part of the hoodwinking of America, of our global community.”
The star is in luck, because Gabrielle Union who is set to star and executive producer of NBC’s drama pilot L.A.’s Finest, has signed a first look deal with Sony Pictures TV, the studio behind the offshoot from the Bad Boys movie franchise.
Under the two-year pact, Union’s production company, I’ll Have Another – named as a nod to her best-selling book, We’re Going to Need More Wine – will develop broadcast, cable and digital projects for Sony TV.
The L.A.’s Finest pilot hails from Bad Boys movies’ producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Doug Belgrad and Primary Wave Entertainment. Written by Brandon Margolis and Brandon Sonnier and directed by Anton Cropper, it follows the free-spirited Special Agent Syd Burnett character played by Union in 2003’s Bad Boys II movie as she moves to Los Angeles and joins the LAPD. She’s partnered with Nancy McKenna (Jessica Alba), a working mom who can’t help but look at Syd’s freedom with some grass-is-greener envy. Union and Alba executive produce alongside Sonnier Margolis, Bruckheimer, Belgrad, Jonathan Littman, KristieAnne Reed, Jeff Gaspin and Jeff Morrone.
“I am so excited to be back in business with my old Bad Boys family and to have the opportunity to take it a step further and develop projects under the Sony Pictures Television banner is truly an honor,” said Union. “There is an obvious feeling of change happening in Hollywood and I feel very fortunate to now have the opportunity to create necessary projects that are reflective of those changes.”
As part of her deal, Union has named her longtime publicist, Holly Shakoor Fleishcher as Head of Development.
“Holly is someone whose opinions and taste I trust implicitly,” Union said. “Our collaboration has always been extremely positive and together we have the ability to tell honest stories that are relatable, inclusive and above all, entertaining. “
Union made her producing debut as executive producer of the Lifetime movie With This Ring, in which she also starred, and followed that up by executive producing two other starring vehicles, the Universal feature comedy Almost Christmas and BET’s drama series Being Mary Jane, which will be ending its run with a two-hour movie this summer. Later this month, Union will receive the CinemaCon Breakthrough Producer of the Year Award, as she attends the convention with her upcoming Universal thriller Breaking In, which she produced and stars in.
Fleischer started her career in 2002 at BWR Public Relations and then went on to 42West Public Relations in 2009 and remained there for nearly a decade. Union has been a client of Fleischer for her entire 16-year career in publicity.
“I have been extremely fortunate in my career as a talent publicist and am grateful to have worked alongside my colleagues at 42West who I consider the best players in the game,” Fleischer said. “I’m excited to take the next step of my career in the creative space and get to join forces with Gabrielle. We have worked together for a long time and not only do I respect her hard work, sincere passion and unique talent, but we both have similar creative goals, visions and a shorthand that will help us execute our collective vision as a production company.”