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Gabrielle Union on How New Film Mirrors Zaya Wade's 'Fight' for Her Identity: 'It's Tough'

Gabrielle Union Opens Up About Zaya Wade's 'Fight' for Ownership of Her Identity
Gabrielle Union Opens Up About Zaya Wade's 'Fight' for Ownership of Her Identity

Emma McIntyre/WireImage, Arnold Jerocki/Getty

Gabrielle Union is opening up about the parallels between her own life and her recent film, A24's The Inspection.

In an interview with InStyle, the actress, 50, opened up about tackling her emotionally challenging role in the film as Inez French, a homophobic prison guard who denounces her gay son.

"It's tough because [these scenes are a] reality in our household. It's not some Wicked Witch of the West. These are real people in our lives that we're dealing with that have a major impact on my loved ones," Union told the outlet, referencing legal battles surrounding stepdaughter Zaya Wade's ability to legally change her name and gender.


Union's husband, Dwyane Wade, has been engaged in a legal battle with ex-wife Siovaughn Funches-Wade over legally changing their transgender daughter's name and gender on her birth certificate, which Wade first filed to do in August. Funches-Wade filed a petition objecting last month, alleging that Wade is trying to "profit" from the changes.

"And so even something like a scene involving [my character's son's] birth certificate, when we shot it didn't necessarily resonate in the same way," Union continued. "I knew it was obviously important in the scene, but it's taken on a different significance as my own child fights to change her birth certificate to reflect her gender and her name and everything just feels different."

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Dwyane Wade, Zaya Wade, and Gabrielle Union arrive at Gucci Love Parade
Dwyane Wade, Zaya Wade, and Gabrielle Union arrive at Gucci Love Parade

Rich Fury/Getty Images

Wade, 40, acknowledged the situation in an Instagram post after his ex-wife's filing, where he began a message, writing, "Since this must be the new way of parenting, I guess I have to address these allegations here, which is a damn shame."

Noting how he was "on a life-changing trip in our motherland, Africa" when he received the news, the former NBA player continued, "I've received a social media post about me forcing our 15 year old child to be someone she's not and to do something against her will. These are serious and harmful allegations that have hurt our children."

"While none of us are surprised by Siohvaughn's attempt to fight Zaya's identity and her unwavering attempt to drag my name through the mud, I'm very disappointed that she continuously find[s] ways of centering herself and HER needs, without regard to her children," he added.

RELATED: Dwyane Wade Calls Ex-Wife's Objection to Legally Change Daughter Zaya's Name 'Nonsensical'

Dwyane Wade; Zaya Wade; Siovaughn Funches-Wade
Dwyane Wade; Zaya Wade; Siovaughn Funches-Wade

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images; Arnold Jerocki/Getty Images; Jim Smeal/BEI/Shutterstock From left: Dwyane Wade, Zaya Wade, Siovaughn Funches-Wade

Wade claimed that his ex-wife had "the opportunity to reach out to Zaya's teachers, doctors and therapist over the years and even meet her friends, so she could get her own understanding of our child's needs for her LIFE," but said, "She won't do it! She has not been to a school, recital, graduation, school dance, play date, practice, parent teacher conference etc and Zaya has given her every opportunity to try to get to know her."

"This isn't a game for my family and definitely not for Zaya. This is her life," he added. "All the while my wife [Gabrielle Union] and our village has been her rock in helping her pick up the pieces after heartbreak after heartbreak."

Wade concluded, "Siohvaughn has decided to pretty much be an absent parent to Zaya ALL ON HER OWN. ... I will not sit on my hands this time and allow her to make a mockery of my dedication to my family. The high road has run out of real estate. My lawyer will be in contact and best of luck to the 14th lawyer as they try to unravel this book of lies that's been sold to them."

Funches-Wade and Wade were married from 2002 to 2010, and share 20-year-old son Zaire Wade, along with Zaya. Wade is also dad to 8½-year-old son Xavier Zechariah, whom he shares with ex Aja Metoyer, and 3½-year-old daughter Kaavia James, whom he shares with wife Union, 50. He has also served as the legal guardian of his nephew Dahveon Morris, 21.