March 13th, 2012
04:22 PM ET
Gabrielle Union would love to get more roles like the one she's promoting at SXSW.
The actress joined director Brian Savelson at the Austin-based festival in hopes of snagging a distributor for their film, “In Our Nature,” and she talked to CNN about her pride in the work she did on the indie.
In it, Union plays Vicky, the younger girlfriend of “Mad Men” star John Slattery’s character Gil. The dramedy centers on what happens when the couple's thrown together with Gil’s son and his girlfriend (played by Zach Gilford and Jena Malone) when a scheduling snafu has them all showing up at a vacation home.
The actress scored the role after being recommended by Slattery’s trainer, who also trains one of Union’s best friends. She said she was on board after reading the script and being assured that she could make it work during the one month she had between shooting Tyler Perry’s “Good Deeds” and the forthcoming “Think Like a Man” film, based on “Family Feud” host Steve Harvey’s best-selling book.
“I’m never generally considered for roles like this,” Union said. “I was honored and thrilled and excited to do something completely different in between those two projects.”
Union has acted in other smaller movies before, and she says her indie resume is more extensive than people realize.
“We don’t consider black, urban films as ‘indies,’ though many of them are shot for under $10 million which is kind of the definition of an indie,” she said. “I love working, whether [on a] $100 million film or under $10 [million].”
Union will be taking it to the small screen as the star of a BET drama tentatively titled “Single Black Female.” The actress will play a network journalist whose pursuit of meatier stories puts her at odds with her employers' desire for better ratings.
She has been offered pilots before, Union said, but was looking for just the right project.
“It was actually the first pilot I read, but because BET didn’t have a history of doing scripted dramas I was like ‘I don’t want to be the guinea pig,’” she said. “Then I met with Mara [Brock Akil] and Salim [Akil] and I fell in love with them.”
The Akils are the producers behind the successful film “Jumping the Broom,” and had worked with Whitney Houston on the forthcoming “Sparkle.” Union said that the trio actually met to discuss their project on the day Houston died, and the couple’s genuine grief over the loss of the superstar helped seal her desire to work with them.
“They actually showed emotion, and like they gave a damn about someone who had been a part of a production,” Union said. “And not just because of the work, but because they had watched her evolve on screen and had come to love her as a person. That said more to me about how they would handle me than anything.”
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