Looking back. Gabrielle Union has opened up many times through the years about her iconic role as Isis in the 2002 film Bring It On. However, she still has some regrets about the way she approached the character.
“I do think it was a mistake. I was given full range to do whatever I wanted with Isis in Bring It On, and I chose respectability and to be classy and take the high road because I felt like that would make her be appropriate, the right kind of Black girl,” the You Got Anything Stronger? author, 48, told Good Morning America on Monday, September 13. “Black girls aren’t allowed to be angry. Certainly not demonstratively angry and I muzzled her.”
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The 10 Things I Hate About You star added that there are many things she could have done better at the time.
“I would have allowed her her full humanity, and part of being a full human is the ability to express rage when harmed,” Union explained. “When you don’t really allow yourself your full range of emotion and you muzzle your own emotions, it allows people to think, ‘Maybe what I did wasn’t that bad.’ I would have given her all the anger. I had muzzled her and made her this gracious, decent leader and I was still a villain in that movie. I did all that shape-shifting for a character, and then I realized I was doing that to myself too. I wasn’t allowing myself the full range of my humanity.”
In her new memoir, which came out on Tuesday, September 14, Union details more of her feelings on the role in a chapter titled, Dear Isis. When referring to a scene when her character walks away from Torrance (Kirsten Dunst) and Missy (Eliza Dushku) instead of fighting, she recalls saying that the choice was because they had class.
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“I thought surrender was ‘class.’ I didn’t know that I could give you ‘class’ and dignity while also being very clear about holding people accountable,” the We’re Gonna Need More Wine author writes in the chapter, as if she were speaking to Isis. “Beating them up may have been beneath you, but I wish I had even allowed you to be angry. To not muzzle any of that rage, including the justifiable anger of your teammates. Because that scene at the gym was a rare opportunity for you and them. When you’re young and Black and in predominantly Black settings like you had, you don’t get to have those confrontations because white folks just aren’t around. It’s the blues riff taken by the British band and sold back to America, the TikTok girls stealing the Black girl’s dance.”
She continued, “We don’t know it’s happening until it’s too late. But here you had caught them in this moment of potential accountability, and you had to wipe the slate clean.”
The L.A.’s Finest alum also explained that originally, the movie ended with Isis and Torrance at Berkley together, cheering alongside one another. The scene didn’t make the cut and the film ended with a memorable blooper reel.
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“I get it: it’s epic, and it’s something people remember. You know what else people remember? You as a villain. I once saw a poll of greatest movie villains and there you were. Why? Because you asked for accountability in the most civil tone I could manage? When people do their impersonation of you — to me! — it’s an aggressive, slang-talking girl threatening violence,” Union wrote. “It doesn’t matter what you say, it matters how you make people feel. And you can’t control that. Knowing how you and I would be received, I should have just put the words in your mouth unapologetically.”
The producer added, “So, I am here to apologize to you. When I said today that you didn’t go far enough, that was on me. I failed you and myself.”
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