Book Review

Actress tackles thorny issues in first memoir


FUBU, “For us by us”, Gabrielle Union writes, in her book We’re Going to Need More Wine, is the reason she features in black films.

The actress, better known for her roles in the hit TV series Sister Sister, ER, Mary Jane, among others and films Think Like A Man, The Perfect Holiday, Breakin’ All The Rules, to mention but a few, says her passion to tell black stories by people of colour, in a predominantly white America, is what pushes her into the creative realm.

One could also deduce, into book writing as well. Nickie, as she was known growing up, writes surprisingly well, painting mental pictures in this collection of stories from her past and present.

Gabrielle goes real in this text. No make-up, or blinds. These are stories from childhood, growing up in Pleasanton, as the only black kid in school, into adulthood, acting, being a handful of black women in the face of popular culture, bringing a seat to the table, and not being the help.

Reading into this rare, but bold, self-reflecting book, the reader learns of horrific experiences Union went through. At 19 she was raped at gunpoint during a burglary at a store she used to work in.  For years, the incident affected her so much so she could not leave the house.

However, through therapy and lots of love from close friends and family, as well as justice (the perpetrator went to jail), Nickie came out to speak against sexual harassment in all its forms, even before the #MeToo movement surfaced.

Here is a woman, unafraid to look into her soul, ever so publicly through this book, telling other women, black, with chips on their shoulder, they too, can be anything they want to be.

The frankness with which she writes this book is refreshing. She details her life, as though she were chronicling a journal, or sitting at a bar with friends ordering more wine, to go with the flow.

From losing her virginity, to racism, divorce from her first husband Chris Howard, to losing her best friend to cancer, working on set, as well as Prince’s parties. The range of it is wide and funny, sometimes addressing the reader directly. It is no wonder the book ran out in many book stores, including locally, when I went to purchase it.

We’re Going to Need More Wine plays a pivotal role in narrating a contemporary black America through her eyes, so much so there’s already talk of converting it into screen play, barely a year after hitting the literary market.

She is a no-holds barred type of essayist. The only downside of the book is if you’re not conversant with popular culture or do not watch television, there are references that will escape you.

Otherwise, We’re Going to Need More Wine makes for an introspective and entertaining read of a black woman in Hollywood accompanied by her insecurities, triumphs and passions in a world that rarely accepts that.