Gabrielle Union may be a Big Hollywood Celebrity, but she does have Midwest roots (she’s from Omaha, Neb.)—and it’s clear upon meeting her that they’re plenty strong. The actress, who currently stars in BET’s Being Mary Jane is warm and welcoming as we sit down for a quick chat at Ulta Beauty, where she’s celebrating the recent launch of her new hair care line, Flawless. And we caught her just in time: Union’s husband, Dwyane Wade (a Chicago native himself), played for the Chicago Bulls for the past season—but he’s now taking his talents to the Cleveland Cavaliers, so the pair are moving on to a new Midwest home. Here, she talks Flawless, the Windy City, and what she’ll miss most about Chicago.
Congrats on Flawless! Obviously, there’s a lot to be proud of here, but what would you say you’re most proud of with this line? GABRIELLE UNION: That I literally took a dream on a whim that I didn't think I was worthy of, and we're in stores. Sometimes if you lack that self-value and that self-worth, you have dreams that you don't think you're worthy of. And to finally do the work to feel good about myself, to feel like, "No, this is a dream that I could actually make come true—and not just for myself, but for my family, [and for] women with textured hair around the world." This is insane. Beyond anything I could've ever thought.
What was the biggest challenge in developing the line? GU: Listening, getting everyone to listen when the feedback comes in, humbling [ourselves] and assuming that we don't have all the answers, [and] making sure that we tried to reach as many different types of textured hair people as possible. And then just taking the feedback and tweaking along the way. Our products are out, but we're still tweaking for the next batch and for the next rounds—we're already a few rounds of products in for late 2018. It all comes from humbling ourselves and not assuming we have all the answers—and not being too proud to change things up to better suit our customers.
Do you have a favorite product in the line? GU: It's like asking [if I have a] favorite child! The Blow Dry Cream is awesome. It actually cuts down the blow drying time considerably, and it doesn't leave your hair that really dry, straw feeling. [...] I designed them all for my own specific needs, so I love them all!
Let's talk about your morning routine. If you're running out the door and you don't have a lot of time, what are the one or two things that you always do? GU: Throw [my hair] up...hit my little baby hairs with the Edge Control, and [use] Mirigal oil. [It’s] this oil that I use under my makeup. Sometimes I'll use it in lieu of moisturizer, [and] that's it.
Flawless, Gabrielle Union's new hair care line.
Switching gears—obviously you've had the chance to spend a lot of time here in Chicago. What has it been like? What are some of your favorite things about the city? GU: Lincoln Park—[and] not just because it's right down the street and I literally walk through the park to get to the gym. [...] But [there are] people who have lived in Chicago their whole lives, from different parts of the city, [who] have never been to Lincoln Park, and it's literally one of the best parks in the country. And just talking to people. The other night, me and D sat out there and...watched a co-ed league soccer match. That's awesome—you don't get to do that in too many places. And sports bars. I haven't been everywhere in the country, but Chicago sports fans and sports bars are pretty dope. And for the intense sports fan like myself, I felt right at home.
Do you have any favorites? GU:The Vig [in] Old Town.
What will you miss the most about Chicago? GU: Probably all of our family that's here. For the most part, for my job, none of my family ever can come see me work. And for my husband, unless they get on a plane, they weren't gonna be able to see him [aside from] once a year when we would come here. So...for my husband, having his mom at every game without getting on a plane at her age, and the work that she does in the community—you can't put a price on it. And even if it was just for a year, it was worth it for us to be with family in a real way that we don't normally get with our lives. So that was pretty awesome. And Harold's Chicken. Gotta keep it all the way real!