Gabrielle Union has reflected on her portrayal of Bring It On character Isis. She says she now regrets how he portrayed the character.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Union spoke about her new opinion on Good Morning America to promote her latest book, You Got Anything Stronger?. She said that she was given carte blanche to portray the Clovers cheerleading captain however she wanted, but in her words, she chose respectability politics.
“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,” she said. “Black girls aren’t allowed to be angry. Certainly not demonstratively angry and I muzzled her.”
Union‘s realization came after taking part in conversations about a potential sequel with Bring It On star Kirsten Dunst and director-writer Peyton Reed. The sequel would focus on Isis and the Clovers and would be written by a Black screenwriter. Union said that these conversations made her revisit her portrayal of the character, which she now calls a “mistake.”
“I realized that I need to come to grips and acknowledge where I failed Isis. When given full control, I made her ‘appropriate’,” she said.
She also wrote about Isis in an op-ed for The Cut, entitled “Dear Isis.” In the article, she writes about how she made it a point to have Isis desire to get into UC Berkeley.
“You…needed to work twice as hard as Torrance [Dunst] to go from East Compton to land in the UC System,” Union wrote. “You needed to be beyond reproach. Not just as a cheerleader, but as a community leader and student. And you had to do all that without sacrificing your Blackness. How was I going to accomplish this for you? I was twenty-six, and I knew all the extra work I had done myself. I wasn’t that far removed from my own journey as a UC student when we shot the film in 1999…Black girls like you thought they couldn’t be less than perfect.”
“…I am here to apologize you,” she wrote. “When I said today that you didn’t go far enough, that was on me. I failed you and myself. I was the fourth lead, but my face was on the poster. You were the girl with no last name, but the star of every meme. You were only in about a third of the movie, and now I would know to fight for equal time to tell your story. Your iconic moments with the Clovers are what people remember, though I know it’s partly that we are bits of Black resistance dropped in the middle of the milk.”
“Your story, the real one, is that you are amazing with your rage. With your disappointment, your heartbreak, and all your complicated feelings,” she continued. “Never in spite of them or because you hid them. I wish I had just given you the space to be a Black girl who is exceptional without making any kind of compromise. Because that’s who I want to be now.”