she’s covering Vegas Magazine’s May/June 2014 issue, it’s the feature interview that steals the show. Inside, she dishes on everything from the negative woman she used to be, to the point of her career where she thought she had lost everything, and how her mom’s divorce affected her life.
Below are a few things we learned from the feature:
She’s always felt like an outsider
My dad told me, ‘You gotta be bigger and badder and better than the next woman, just to be considered even.’ I felt like I had to become a chameleon [in high school]. Even as a popular girl, I was always looking through the window and very afraid of being exposed. I just wanted to assimilate and fit in.
Around 2005, she felt as though she had hit rock bottom
But as Union was making her way in Hollywood, winning parts in movies such as Bring It On and Ten Things I Hate About You, her self-described “slick mouth” and penchant for “bagging on others” were earning her few friends in the business. Her outspokenness damaged her reputation, which was further compromised by a perfect Tinseltown storm. In 2005, her first marriage, to NFL star Chris Howard, began its descent into divorce; her network series Night Stalker was canceled; her agent’s phone was no longer ringing off the hook; and she felt she had hit rock bottom.] “I felt destroyed,” she says. “I literally went under the bed with my dog and just stayed there.”
She credits Oprah for saving her life
Crediting Winfrey with saving her life, Union talks openly about having been raped at age 19, when she was closing up the shoe store where she was working. She had seen a show that Winfrey had moderated on what to do if you’re the victim of a violent crime. Channeling the talk-show host’s voice, Union verbally engaged her attacker and was able to grab his gun. He ran and was later arrested and incarcerated. To this day she continues to lobby for victims of sexual violence, to advocate for rape crisis centers across the country, and to publicly give thanks to Winfrey.
She began focusing on activism after she lost her BFF to cancer. (Her best friend was 32.)
“At the end, She turned to me and whispered, ‘Don’t let my death be in vain. I’m passing the baton. Don’t drop it, bitch.’” Union promised her BFF that she wouldn't and, true to her word, she became a Circle of Promise national ambassador for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, speaking up all over the world for women living with breast cancer.