Black women characters on television are more dynamic and layered than ever. Gabrielle Union is proud to play such a character in BET’s upcoming series, “Being Mary Jane” penned by Mara Brock Akil. She opens up about her new role in the December 2013 issue of Essence Magazine (on newsstands November 8th).

In the cover story, she discusses Mary Jane’s uninhibited take on sexuality: “It would be easy to label Mary Jane a freak…but enjoying sex doesn’t make you a ho. I hope [Being Mary Jane] widens the conversation. I hope people will be more forgiving of those who explore their sexuality unapologetically.”

The film, which aired again on BET last night, shows Mary Jane having sex with two suitors and even masturbating. It bravely explores MJ’s sexuality as well as her family life, friendships and career.

As for Gabrielle Union’s career, she says she learned two significant life lessons when she auditioned for “Scandal” and was rejected from “Jumping The Broom.” While auditioning for “Scandal,” she learned how she wants to be treated by directors and writers: “Going in for Scandal, Shonda [Rhimes] empowered every Black woman who came through her door. Even if I don’t get the next job, or the next five jobs, I don’t want to be treated less than how Shonda treated me. […] I was one of the last five or ten to audition…when Kerry got it, I congratulated her. Now after each episode, I’m leading the charge, like Gladiators, stand up! I’m obsessed with the show…”

She also shared that when she wasn’t chosen for the lead role in “Jumping The Broom,” director Salim Akil recommended her to his wife, Mara Brock Akil, to star in “Being Mary Jane.” Gabby was happy for Paula Patton, who nabbed the role, but such good sportsmanship wasn’t always the case.

The actress revealed at Essence Black Women in Hollywood that she struggled with being a “mean girl” in the past. She expounded upon that period of her life in Essence’s December issue as well: “There’s this intense desire for us all to be chosen by a man, or a job, or chosen for fame, whatever. But when you’re in the public eye and you’re not chosen, the rejection feels public. So to cover the wound, you attack the person who is chosen.”

Judging from this interview, Gabrielle Union seems to have a lot of wisdom and guts, both of which she brings to the character Mary Jane. Will you watch the series when it premieres in January?


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