Gabby Union Was Violated And Now Has Role Of Same Victimization in “Birth of a Nation”


By Victor Trammell

Gabrielle Union (pictured) has accomplished a ton of success over the course of her 20-year career.

Her work ethic, great talent, and intelligence have served her well ever since she started her illustrious run as a film and television actress. Union has played a variety of both dazzling and riveting roles, which have put her level of versatility on full display.

However, Union’s latest role in actor/writer/director Nate Parker’s film “Birth of a Nation” caused her to re-live a dark chapter of her life. Union was offered the role two years ago after reading what she called a “brilliant” script that was written by Parker.

Parker’s film is loosely based on the story of Nat Turner, a slave who led the 1831 revolt in Southhampton County, Virginia. Union plays a young slave woman named Esther in Parker’s new film. In one scene of the movie, Union’s character is $exually assaulted by a white male who came to visit  the plantation where she was owned as a slave.

Union has turned down many film roles in the past because they would have required her to play a $exual assault victim. However, Union decided to take on this latest role due to her desire to star in what she called a “historically significant” film.

In 1992, Union herself was $exually assaulted during the robbery of a Payless shoe store where she was working as an employee. The 43-year-old actress has not talked about this incident, which probably caused her to turn down all the film roles where she endures the terrible ordeal of being violated.

The story behind Union, Parker, and the new “Birth of a Nation” film (which hits theaters on October 7th) took an ironic new twist when Union was sent a news article about Parker around a month ago. The article reported that Parker was accused of $exually assaulting a woman in 1999.

Union wrote a compelling opinion-editorial, which was published Friday (September 2nd) in the Los Angeles Times. In her article, Union shares the very complicated feelings she has in her heart now that she has found out about the checkered past of a man who directed her in her latest film.

“Seventeen years ago Nate Parker was accused and acquitted of $exual assault. Four years ago the woman who accused him committed suicide,” Union wrote.

“Since Nate Parker’s story was revealed to me, I have found myself in a state of stomach-churning confusion,”  she continued. Union also talked about how she plans to continue her commitment to the advocacy of $exual assault victims.

“As important and ground-breaking as this film is, I cannot take these allegations lightly,” Union also wrote. To read Union’s full-length opinion-editorial in The Los Angeles Times, click here.







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