Gabrielle Union attended the “Birth of a Nation” premiere on Wednesday night, gorgeous in a white Rodarte gown.
PEOPLE caught up with the Being Mary Jane star – who is featured in the upcoming film – on the red carpet, and she explained why she took on her role and also expressed her thoughts on director, Nate Parker.
“He’s a man who is evolving,” Gabrielle said of the director, whose 17-year-old rape allegations recently resurfaced. “He’s a man who wants to evolve and is doing the work to evolve. He’s not that 19-year-old kid. He’s a father of five girls, and that’s not lost on him, one of whom just started college. It’s not lost on him.”
“I refuse to leave him in the same place that I found him,” she continued. “And I know he’s a good man. I know he’s a good man, and he’s a brilliant filmmaker, but just like all of us, we’re all evolving and we all have a tremendous amount of space to learn and to grow. Once you allow yourself to be humbled, that’s when real growth really, really happens, and that’s what I think we’re all seeing.”
In an op-ed she penned for the LA Times earlier this month, the actress admitted that since hearing of Nate’s story, she has found herself “in a state of stomach-churning confusion,” as a rape survivor herself.
She plays a woman that is sexually assaulted in the film, and says it does not trouble her to revisit her own painful past experience as part of the larger conversation.
“I take the responsibility very seriously, and I took the film so I could talk about black liberation as well as sexual violence,” she explained. “Because my character didn’t have any lines, I knew that I was going to have this opportunity on the press tour to talk about the intersectionality of the movements of my blackness and my woman-ness, and that sexual violence has always existed at that crossroads.”
Gabby added, “I’ve always been open to that, and because that’s why I took the film I’ve never shirked that responsibility – and I don’t intend to anytime soon.”
Photo: Gabrielle Union – Instagram