Yes, fall is almost finally upon us which means it’s time to update our wardrobes. We caught up with the ever so busy Being Mary Jane star, Gabrielle Union, to talk designing The Gabrielle Union Collection for NY&Co. Of course, we also got into Insta-stalking, #BLACKGIRLMAGIC, her new book “We’re Going to Need More Wine” and being paid $120 dollars for her first modeling gig in college to now coming full circle designing a clothing line resembling her very own closet, aiming to make every woman feel good about fashion!
EBONY.com: You’re the face of the 7th Ave Collection for NY&Co which launched in April and now you’re launching your very own line “The Gabrielle Union Collection” with NY&Co this Wednesday, August 16! Tell us about your relationship and collaboration with the brand.
Gabrielle Union: I’m the face of 7th Avenue line which is awesome and definitely inspired by “Being Mary Jane” but this new collection, The Gabrielle Union Collection is inspired by my very own closet. It’s what I actually wear on a day-to-day basis or if you were to bump into me at Target you’d say, “Oh, this is what she really wears.” As my mood changes, whatever I’m going to put on that day changes and I wanted to offer a bit of that variety to my first collection; and as we grow with the October launch as well as next February I can go okay, what’s next, and I get to keep trying to challenge myself to be inspired by my travels and the people that I meet and people that I Insta-stalk within my own designs.
EBONY.com: This campaign isn’t the first time that you’ve put your modeling talents to use. You started modeling while in college to help pay for your education at UCLA. Can you talk about how it felt modeling again, and this time around as a complete #girlboss designing your very own multi-year fashion collab with NY & Co?
Gabrielle Union: It’s a full circle moment. It’s like when you’re modeling and I wasn’t doing any really big name jobs; but I can remember feeling very accomplished when I left the Montgomery Wards offices when I booked that particular gig because it paid $120 and I was like I’m rich, I can retire lol! But no you’re a hanger basically, they’re like, “Do this, do that” you know and you’re just happy to be there because well it’s $120 dollars and at the time I was making $6.16 an hour at the UCLA bookstore. So to be able to now design clothes and to be apart of the process from the very beginning and to get to think about the women in my family and say, “Okay, will this look flattering on everybody?” and to try to create the most flattering looks for as many people as possible that felt amazing. Being able to work with real fashion and real women in fashion and to have this collaboration was dope! And this isn’t my world, I love it, but I don’t have all the technical knowledge and they didn’t make me feel small, you know I’m one of those people who speaks in sounds and gestures and they just really made me feel super empowered throughout the process and tried to create what I was asking for.
EBONY.com: You’re from Nebraska, and I too am from a small town in Virginia actually and I can remember shopping at my local mall and loving shopping in NY&Co and I think this collection and collaboration is so awesome for so many reasons well first because it’s going to be available at such reasonable prices and in small cities and towns all over the United States where there are woman who may never have a chance to shop in a major department store and you’re giving them a chance to rock the latest fashions and trends for the everyday woman from size a 0-20 which is so inclusive, why was that important for you?
Gabrielle Union: That’s exactly it. I can remember watching the news and Michelle Obama was giving an award to this teacher and I remember the dress and it was a NY&Co dress and it was something that I’d randomly seen and then when I met with the company they bought the same example. To me it represented every woman and when you’re from Omaha, Nebraska, literally the middle of America, it’s like if I’m going to design a line, I’m going to design a line that my own family can wear and has access to and includes them. We come in all shapes and sizes and we have all different kinds of professions and I needed different price points that appealed and was reasonable because there does come a point where it becomes not so cute when people come up and ask, “Well how much was that?” and I have to whisper $5,000 dollars. That’s not reasonable or cute.
EBONY.com: Speaking of sharing a bit of yourself, you have a book coming out this year in October.
Gabrielle Union: Yeah October 17th!
EBONY.com: Wow October 17th is my birthday! I also know that we’re both October babies so that’s a nice birthday gift to yourself!
Gabrielle Union: Yes. You’re a Libra!
EBONY.com: Yes, and I’m super excited about your book appropriately titled, “We’re Going to Need More Wine.” It’s seriously the story of my life. Can you just tell us a little bit about your book and what we can expect from it? You’re adding author to your already dope resume. What does this book mean to you?
Gabrielle Union: I’ve been writing my whole life but not writing for other people, just sort of writing as more of like therapy, like journaling type thing and then I get approached. I wrote the foreword to Hill Harpers book, “Letters To A Young Sister” and from that they were like, “You should write a book” and again going back to things that were offered to me in my 20s and 30s I wasn’t prepared for because I didn’t feel that I was worthy. I felt like a fraud and I felt like I shouldn’t take that offer because they’re going to figure that out, that you ain’t sh*t (laughs). But as I approached 40, I really started doing the work on myself. My personal evolution took off and I did feel worthy and I was like well maybe it is a good time and I’m in the right space to share some of my essays, it’s not a memoir, it’s not told literally but it’s a collection of essays and some are funny, some are random, some are gut punchy but they’re all pieces of me that over the years people have asked me to speak about over and over again. So when I went into writing the book it was like, “Let me try to give as many stories that shaped my life, as many stories that inspired me and as many stories that just made me laugh” and I hold a lot back so maybe there’s another book in my future.
EBONY.com: You are ever evolving and that’s what we absolutely love about you. Can you talk about what your current state of black girl magic is, what it means to you and why it’s so important that we continue to celebrate our people?
Gabrielle Union: It’s interesting because I get asked the #blackgirlmagic question a lot and I’m surrounded by it so it just feels like it’s contagious and it’s everywhere and it’s being celebrated finally. I feel seen and I want to make sure I’m letting other women know that they’re being seen. I see you sis! I try to stay committed to my #WCW and I try to uplift us as much as possible. I just want to give people that moment of “I see you” and “I got you!” and I really feel like you don’t have to be finding a cure for cancer every week to be magical; you were magical from birth, you were magical by birthright and we see you and we celebrate you in all your incarnations and just know that if you don’t feel magical today, you can feel magical tomorrow or next week, and I think that’s the big take away. It’s that we are seeing each other when we have felt voiceless and powerless and invisible for way too long and I love that we’ve taken it among ourselves to celebrate ourselves.