Last night, Oprah Winfrey hosted an intimate conversation with some of Hollywood’s most iconic  actresses to talk about the challenges black artists face in the business, their sisterhood, and how much they’ve learned throughout the years.

According to Madame O, the conversation was prompted in part by Alfre Woodard’s annual meetup of “Cinema sistas,” but also by Gabrielle Union’s moving speech at this year’s Essence Magazine Black Women in Hollywood luncheon.

Union, a veteran of the big and small screen, received the Fierce and Fabulous award for both her on-camera work and her behind-the-scenes advocacy duties.

While most expected Union to give a run-of-the-mill acceptance speech, she stunned the crowd by getting all the way real about her previous hangups and her not-so-sisterly behavior.

During the speech, Union admitted that she was a recovering mean girl who once tried to minimize who she was.

“I used to revel in gossip and rumors,” she told the audience. “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.”

Just 10 minutes in length, Union’s powerful speech moved many in the crowd, and garnered her a seat among legends Alfre Woodard, Viola Davis, and Phylicia Rashad on Oprah’s couch.

Gabby’s speech also touched a nerve with me. Although I wasn’t an all-out mean girl, in the past I gossiped and verbally tore other women down. I also allowed myself to get caught up in relationships and situations that did little to bolster who I was or wanted to be.

Like Union, I saw the light, but so many of our fellow sisters have not. These days I do my best to encourage others to focus on the good in themselves verses what’s seemingly wrong with others, but it’s definitely a process.

Check out Gabrielle Union’s inspiring speech from Essence magazine’s Women in Hollywood luncheon.

Can you relate?

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  • You never know one’s truth until they tell it and that’s what Gabby did. I am proud of her for owning her weaknesses (mean-girl behaviors) and will continue to grow and support her peers of the entertainment industry. I wish her the best as an actress and most importantly as a woman. When you know better, you do better.

  • ruggie

    The only ones who can judge this speech are the people she’s hurt.

  • shelly

    After watching this video i automatically felt a sense of aww and amazement. 1 because she was able to to be honest with her self and admit to the world that she is not perfect, that she has flaws and demons that she needs to overcome. 2. becuase there seemed to be so much love in that room filled with so many beautiful black individuals and it was nice to see everyone together to celebrate something positive.

    then i started to shake my head as i read the comments. how can you sit there and judge her and gossip about her life. all you’re doing is producing negative energy. the only individuals who has the right to judge her or anyone else are people who have never done anything wrong, individuals who for lack of a better words are saints. whether or not you believe that she was being honest in her speech does not give you the right to be disrespectful or rude and all that does is take away from a moment that was so positive and profound and make you seem like the same kind of mean girl/guy that your still making her out to be. so next time take the time to reflect upon yourself before judging others.