For Gabrielle Union, ‘Being Mary Jane’ is Serious Business

Gabrielle Union promotes Season 2 of 'Being Mary Jane,' her popular BET series. (Photo: Robert Deutsch, USAT)
Gabrielle Union promotes Season 2 of ‘Being Mary Jane,’ her popular BET series.
(Photo: Robert Deutsch, USAT)

Onscreen, she drinks like a fish — and in this season’s first episode, in a post-breakup explosion, hurls an actual goldfish tank through an actual window.

In real life, Being Mary Jane’s Gabrielle Union is married to Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade and splits her time between Florida, Los Angeles and Atlanta, where her BET show is shot. USA TODAY sat down with Union last week to discuss what exactly it means to be cable talk-show host Mary Jane Paul on the series, which was just renewed for a third season.

Q: Before we even get to Mary Jane, I have to ask about Dwyane being a groomzilla at your wedding. Was he really fixated about centerpieces?
A: We didn’t have them because he didn’t like them. He and Bonnie, our wedding coordinator — I dealt with little bits, like alcohol, where my expertise lies. He was into all of the details. All the NBA guys, all his friends, (were) micromanagers when it came to the wedding details. They’re just detail-oriented people. They were all big with the fashion. It carries over into centerpieces and napkins. I chimed in on where people should sit. I wanted to spread out the fun people.

Q: Do you ever want Mary Jane to be happily married?
A: I want her to find the right love. I’m enjoying all the frogs she’s kissing. If you think of everyone you had to date before you found your husband — for a woman who’s almost 40 years old who’s been single for a long time, a lot of people will come in and out before you find someone willing to take on a formidable woman.

Q: How did you end up doing the show?
A: Sometime after not getting Scandal and being so bummed — I thought that there’s never going to be another job starring a black woman, created by a black woman. It was a genie in a bottle and I missed it. And then (Mary Jane creator Mara Brock Akil) hit me (up). I read the pilot, and to this day, there’s maybe three pilots you can look at and think, ‘This is gold.’ On the page, it was that good. It was just delicious.

Q: What’s so intriguing about the show is that Mary Jane is never cute, never adorable, never charming. She’s tough and cold and at times really mean.
A: I’m starting to read Season 3 scripts. If anything, it’s about the darker elements of our personalities that come out when things aren’t going our way. I’m reading (a script) where she’s a situational racist, out of her own insecurity. She says random racist stuff. This season you just see that she’s complicated and there’s so much going on that she doesn’t feel she has control over. What happens when control freaks don’t have control? They go crazy. Or they drink.

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SOURCE: USA Today – Donna Freydkin

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