Gabrielle Union, Relishing Her Latest 'Holiday' Treat

By Teresa Wiltz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

She's got that whole perky, Doris-
chocolate thing going. No matter the material, actress Gabrielle Union, nice Catholic girl, Nebraska born/California bred, has worked that clean-cut image, mining the wholesomeness -- notwithstanding those steamy Maxim pics, the ones with the pink corset, pouty lips and plumped-up cleavage -- as she's zipped from comedy to drama and back. Witness her as a snippety cheerleader ("Bring It On"), as Will Smith's gun-wielding inamorata ("Bad Boys II") and her turn as Annette Bening's lesbian lover ("Running With Scissors").

"She's our Julia Roberts," says Faizon Love, her co-star in "The Perfect Holiday," which opens tomorrow. Adds Morris Chestnut, her love interest in the film, "There's a wholesomeness to her. She's an attractive woman who's smart and can do comedy."

So . . . why isn't she getting Julia Roberts-level roles?

"The lack of the right opportunity," says Chestnut, who's also starred with her in "The Brothers," "Two Can Play That Game" and "Breakin' All the Rules." "Sometimes it's that one defining role that can make your career."

We chatted with the 35-year-old UCLA grad last week when she breezed through town to promote "The Perfect Holiday" -- in which she plays a harried single mom -- about her new role, the horrors of being one of's favorite targets, staying employed in Hollywood and growing up black in the burbs:

So how did you end up working on " The Perfect Holiday" ?

When [producer] Queen Latifah called me, I was like, "Single mom with three kids? [She makes the universal buzzer sound.] Call me back when you've got something sexy."

Why is that?

In Hollywood, you play a mom and instantly, you've got osteoporosis. I didn't want to age myself.

It's easy to get labeled.

Yeah, it's a little nerve-racking.

What changed your mind?

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