Gabrielle Union On How Whitney Houston’s Death Changed Her Life

Gabrielle Union told the Associated Press recently that her decisions regarding her life and career were heavily influenced by the tragic death of Whitney Houston, citing her latest role as an example.

Union stars in BET’s Being Mary Jane as a woman struggling to balance a busy professional life with the demands of her family–who she supports–and the subsequent lack of romance. For her, the role is a challenge in the best kind of way.

“It just kind of made everyone say, ‘What do you want your legacy to be?'” Union said of Houston’s death. “And I really doubled down on ‘I only want to do things that I care about, that mean something.’ So, no, I don’t want to play perfect characters that are wholesome role models… and have all the right answers,” Gabrielle said.

Gabrielle says she actually met with the show’s executive producer, Salim Akil–who directed Whitney Houston in her final film–on the day Houston died.

“They had just done ‘Sparkle’ with her…. and there were so many people in that room and we were having this great conversation about basically my career going this great direction with this great character…. and you see this other light just literally go out and you see… everyone’s looking at their phones, you hear people gasp and run out of the room, and it was one of those really life-affirming and life-questioning times.”

The role may differ greatly from her reality, but Union told Access Hollywood earlier this week that her professional and personal lives did crash into one another when she was married to NFL star Chris Howard. Now married to NBA star Dwayne Wade, she says she learned a lesson the hard way and drew up a prenuptial agreement the second time around.

“These are our second marriages and in my first marriage, I lost a lot of money to someone who was not necessarily extra supportive. You know how Kobe Bryant says, ‘You weren’t in the gym shooting with me’… you weren’t on set, you weren’t learning my lines, you weren’t getting up early with me. I was making a great living on my own and you misappropriated your funds, not my fault, and when it came time to end it I had to give up a lot of money and it really made the love feel very conditional. I never wanted to have that feeling again and I would never want anyone else to feel like the love was conditional based on stuff,” Gabrielle Union explained.

[Images via Paul Morigi / Getty and Kevin Winter / Getty]