Gabrielle Union recently opened up about how challenging her role in ‘The Inspection’ was to her personal, inclusive beliefs.
Speaking at the PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly photo and video studio at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival Friday about the film, Union, 49, explains her difficult decision to play a character she didn’t relate to. She also serves as an executive producer on the film.
“As an actress, I normally look for characters that have some chunk of me in them. I did not see that in Inez,” she says of her character, Inez French. The character, a homophobic prison guard, can’t come to terms with the fact that her son Ellis French (Jeremy Pope) is gay because of her strong religious background. She ultimately disowns him, setting him on a path to join the Marines.
When asked if The Inspection was difficult for her to participate in as a parent to a transgender daughter (Zaya, 15), Union said she was first drawn to the overall “beautiful story.”
Ultimately she found that “my darkness defined the common space with Inez, which is a very vulnerable place, to know that I too am capable.”
“It’s not going to manifest itself in the same way, but when you are centering an oppressor’s idea of who you need to be to be considered worthy of all of the things, everybody is on the chopping block.”
Union — who is mom to daughter Kaavia James and stepmom to Zaya and sons Zaire, 20, and Xavier, 8, from husband Dwyane Wade‘s previous relationships — went on to explain, “I always look at homophobes as trash. ‘Google is free and I’m not doing free labor for you to figure out how to love your kid.'”
“But through the process of this, I’m like, ‘Maybe I’m not so different in terms of what led me to that point,'” she continues.
“I’m never going to reject my child. My child, none of my children, are disposable. But I get the deep desire to be seen as worthy, and anything that threatens that can go, and for some people that includes their children.”
Of the complex film, inspired by writer/director Elegance Bratton’s own life, Union says that, “If one family can heal and stick together, then it’s a success.”
PEOPLE spoke with the retired NBA star, 40, on the TIME 100 Gala red carpet earlier this year at Lincoln Center in New York City, where he talked about his family’s perspective on Pride Month.
“Zaya was very clear that she didn’t want to ‘celebrate’ Pride,” Wade shared. “She went to a Pride Month in Miami years ago, and it was kind of another one of those, in her words, just, ‘I’ve come out multiple times.’ “
“But she made it very clear to our family that she didn’t want to ‘celebrate’ Pride Month — she wanted to make sure that we can help other families and provide for the families in the LGBTQIA community,” he explained. “So that’s what we try to do.”
As difficult as some LGBT stories can be, they deserve to be told.