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Gabrielle Union Defends Speaking Out Against Disney: ‘I Will Not Be Held Back By Fear’

Gabrielle Union made global headlines for criticizing Disney’s lackluster response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill while walking the red carpet for a Disney film, and she’d gladly do it all again if she could.

The actor didn’t hold back last week when she was attending the Los Angeles premiere of Disney’s “Cheaper by the Dozen,” in which she stars alongside Zach Braff. While she didn’t reference Disney by name, she nonetheless told reporters she was distraught by the fact that corporations at large had failed to push back against the Parental Rights in Education ― or “Don’t Say Gay” ― bill, which will restrict how gender identity and sexuality are discussed in public school classrooms.

Appearing on Wednesday’s episode of the “Keep It” podcast, Union stood her ground, and said she wasn’t concerned about any retaliation from Disney in response to her comments.

“I was very clear about my thoughts about Disney funding hate and oppression on a Disney carpet,” the actor told hosts Ira Madison and Louis Virtel. “I don’t know if they might murder off my character on ‘Cheaper by the Dozen.’ The sequel [might be], ‘Zoe has died in a tragic accident.’ Luckily, there’s enough other companies that are willing to hire me knowing that I told the truth. I will not be held back by fear.”

Later, Union recalled having been raped while working at a Payless shoe store in 1991. The actor won a negligence lawsuit against the company, which had failed to warn employees about the assailant even though he’d been identified as the suspect in a robbery at a different store location.

“I try to put my money where my mouth is, but I don’t do it performatively,” explained Union, whose stepdaughter Zaya Wade is transgender. “That’s just kind of how I’ve had to move through life as an adult since I was raped at 19 and sued the company that was responsible for that. And now they’re bankrupt. Sorry, Payless!”

Zaya Wade (left) and Gabrielle Union.
Zaya Wade (left) and Gabrielle Union.

CHRIS DELMAS via Getty Images

One of Florida’s largest employers, Disney has faced a barrage of criticism from employees, fans and celebrities after CEO Bob Chapek initially urged the company to maintain a neutral stance on the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. He also acknowledged that Disney had made financial contributions to both Democratic and Republican lawmakers who “have subsequently taken positions on both sides of the legislation.”

Days later, Chapek reversed course and admitted he’d “missed the mark” in an apology memo to staff, adding that Disney would halt all of its political donations in Florida to “ensure our advocacy better reflects our values.”

Employees across the company have been staging 15-minute walkouts every day this week in hopes of urging Disney to “protect employees and their families in the face of such open and unapologetic bigotry.”

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