When Gabrielle Union decided to go on a trip to Africa for her 50th birthday, she planned to document the experience for herself.
“Initially it was just footage for me, for my family. Being able to take my mom and my daughter, that’s three generations of Union women — I wanted that documented,” she tells ABC Audio. “My mom had never been, my daughter had obviously never been, and I knew it was going to be … important memories that I thought could probably help some of our other family members and future generations.“
Gabrielle says as she shared her plans with loved ones, she noticed they seemed very interested and realized the trip “could be a very eye-opening experience for other folks that want to make the connection.”
“I view the continent of Africa as the birth place, the origin story of all of us … the birthplace of civilization. So to not understand the continent is to not understand yourself,” she says. “I wanted to try to share as much of that experience with as many people [as possible].”
Gabrielle’s trip to Zanzibar, Namibia and Accra is documented on Gabrielle Union: My Journey to 50, airing Thursday, June 15, on BET+. The documentary captures her renaming ceremony, her visit to Nelson Mandela‘s home and her bath in Accra’s Slave River, where she says she felt connected with her ancestors.
While she hopes her trip will encourage others to learn about their ancestry, Gabrielle has no plans to continue filming her life.
“I think I probably have a newfound respect for reality TV folks,” she says, noting “it’s a little nerve-racking” to be mic’d up. “There’s not going to be a ton of this in my future … but for this particular trip, I’m glad that I dug my way through.”
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