At ESSENCE magazine's sixth annual Black Women in Hollywood pre-Oscars® luncheon, Gabrielle Union received the Fierce and Fearless Award. She started her acceptance speech: "We live in a town that rewards pretending" and had our rapt attention. A minute later my jaw literally dropped (I was sitting next to Iyanla who turned to me and whispered, "Close your mouth") when Gabrielle said, "I used to revel in gossip and rumors. I lived for the negativity inflicted upon my sister actresses or anyone who I felt, whose shine diminished my own. I took joy in people's pain and I tap danced on their misery."
I had never heard anyone be that honest in public or private about the competition and fierce drive to be seen and succeed in Hollywood.
That competition is even more charged for women of color because of the dearth of roles.
So I was inspired by Gabrielle's speech to break open the truth and have a real conversation.
On Oprah's Next Chapter, four of the world's most accomplished actresses—Viola Davis, Alfre Woodard, Phylicia Rashad and Gabrielle Union—joined me to talk about their work, getting roles, how the world sees them and they see themselves.
Watch Gabrielle's poignant and powerfully self-reflective speech below. Tweet me your thoughts.
To find out more about the ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Awards, visit ESSENCE.com.