In Her New Book of Essays, Gabrielle Union Asks 'You Got Anything Stronger?'
Award-winning actress Gabrielle Union’s new book feels like catching up with an old friend.
“You Got Anything Stronger?” is the sequel to Union’s 2017 collection of essays “We’re Going To Need More Wine.” This time, she’s bringing more touching humor while being vulnerable as she shares some of the most impactful events that shaped her life.
“Well, we’ve progressed in our courtship,” Union writes in the second book. “And this book is like us going away for the first weekend together, because just as you think you know someone, it turns out you actually have no idea who a person really is until you’ve traveled with them.”
A lot has transpired since the release of her first book four years ago: Union became a mother, and her husband Dwyane Wade retired from the NBA. But Union says there were many chapters she left out of the first book because she wasn’t ready to talk about them yet.
It was during the pandemic that she finally decided to share more of her experiences and the things she’s gone through.
Vulnerability is a key component to the essays. Before, Union used to think of vulnerability as a weakness and a way to be attacked.
It wasn’t until she watched a TED talk from Brené Brown on the power of vulnerability that her mindset began to shift. That moment was later reinforced for Union when a shaman suggested that vulnerability could actually be her superpower.
“It just clicked,” she says.
Divulging her life events — even the traumatic ones — comes from a place of feeling responsible to share what she knows, Union explains.
“If there’s some part of my journey that can help someone move through darkness toward light,” she says, “I’m actually a jerk if I don’t offer it.”
Union’s daughter Kaavia was born in 2018 through surrogacy — another experience Union addresses in her book. Therapy helped Union understand how she felt about not being able to carry her child herself. But she says the pain remained present, like when she would hear other’s birth stories and knew she couldn’t relate.
“It just hurts,” Union says. “Understanding it all doesn’t always provide cover or comfort for reality.”
Union is stepmother to Wade’s daughter Zaya, who is transgender. The biggest lesson Union learned while grappling with her role in Zaya’s journey is that the stepmom wasn’t going to have all the answers.
Saying “I don’t know” is a response that should be used more often, Union says, along with working with your children to figure it out together.
Union says another lesson learned was realizing the different ways to exist as a woman and a Black woman that don’t involve having to appease men. “I’m unlearning just as much as I’m learning,” she says.
Explaining her perimenopausal depression — the time leading up to menopause — was one of the harder chapters for Union to write in “You Got Anything Stronger?” It was something she was just coming out of before turning her book in a few days later.
Union decided to write about her experience because she felt it could save someone’s life and spark meaningful discussions.
“I knew that it could spark conversations about hormonal imbalances and all the different ways that that can manifest in our bodies and our minds because we don’t talk about it at all,” she says.
As for if Union will write a third book, she isn’t sure.
Right now, she isn’t sure whether or not she’ll publish a third book. She says she needs time before diving back in.
“I have to go back out into the world and travel and listen and learn and evolve and see what else I may feel like is important enough to put pen to paper and to share it in this form,” she says.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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