gabrielle_union.jpgATLANTA (AP) — Gabrielle Union lost the lead role of the ABC series Scandal to Kerry Washington, but she says the experience gave her hope that strong and likable female characters can be created for black actresses. “I said to myself, ‘Oh my God, these roles are out there,’” Union recalled in a recent interview.

“It showed me that you don’t have to settle. Luckily, the success of her and the show bred more work.”


Now, Union is ready to make her mark. She is starred in the dramatic movie Being Mary Jane, which just premiered on BET. The movie will become a series, expected to air in January.

Union plays a successful TV news anchor who attempts to juggle work, her on-and-off relationships and the needs of her family. She said the role would be different from her typical “good girl who meets the bad guy from the other side of the tracks” character.


“If you loved me for one thing and may not have liked me in something else, this role gives the audience a chance to see that I can do more than one thing,” said Union, 40, who has starred in movies such as Deliver Us From Eva and Daddy’s Little Girls.

Union and her boyfriend, Miami Heat superstar Dwayne Wade, were called one of the cutest couples in Hollywood after their red carpet appearance at last week’s BET Awards. Rumors are that Wade proposed to her inside the American Airlines Arena after he and the Heat won their second consecutive world championship.

Meanwhile, Union calls her role as a TV news anchor “sort of a secret dream come true.” She said she has always been fascinated with the news, reading three newspapers a day when she was growing up.


In preparation for Being Mary Jane, she studied journalist Soledad O’Brien, host of CNN’s documentary series Black in America.

“Her series took up a lot of space on my DVR,” Union said. “I love how (O’Brien) delivers information. There’s a news anchor’s cadence that’s different from an actor’s cadence. If you do it wrong, you can come off cold or disconnected to the subject. I’ve been able to grow with the character in that manner.” Union hopes she can follow Washington’s success.

“I didn’t get Scandal, but I got something better — which is my own show,” Union said. “It’s all about building a legacy. This new opportunity is something I feel that can grow.”

•Photo: Kerry Washington