Gabrielle Union: Most Black Celebrities Are 1-To-2 Paychecks Away From Being Broke During COVID-19 Crisis

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
In an interview with The Jasmine Brand, actress and author Gabrielle Union said most Black celebrities are one to two paychecks away from being broke. In this photo, Union arrives at the ESPY Awards on Wednesday, July 10, 2019, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

In an interview with The Jasmine Brand, actress and author Gabrielle Union said most Black celebrities are one to two paychecks away from being broke.

“For most Black entertainers, Black celebrities, we don’t really … for all of the Oprahs and the people who have just a lot of, lot of, lot of money … most of us are one or two checks away from not having money to pay for all of our things. So this stoppage of work and money is impacting marginalized celebrities the most,” Union said in the Instagram interview.

Of influencers seen living a glamorous, jet setting life, Union added, “They may not have a lot liquid income and you can’t charge your rent, you have to pay your rent; so if you don’t have the opportunity to do all of the things that you need to do to be the influencer, your money’s funny, and if your money’s funny, you don’t have much of anything.”

“I think a lot of people need to understand the difference between fame and having money and I think this quarantine is really revealing a lot in terms of there’s a lot of people that are famous that don’t have wealth,” Union added.

Some criticized Union for being “the spokesperson” for marginalized celebrities, citing her husband, NBA living legend Dwyane Wade’s millions. Others took up for Kaavia’s mom.

“Wayment… Why is she the spokesperson and she’s married to……?” Instagram user @dbrown_sche commented. “Her man got millions,” wrote another.

“Yall know celebrities are pretty much independent contractors right? They aren’t the studio owners, producers, or distributors mostly. They rely on a check for their skill just like everyone else. They just get a lump sum as opposed to monthly. A celeb also have MUCH higher overhead cost. People outside of their immediate family rely on them as well like their assistants and publicist, management, office spaces, etc.,” wrote user @iamsamanthsavon.

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ADOS co-founder Antonio Moore tweeted the interview saying it was a prime example of the “decadent veil” he has written and spoken at length about.

According to Moore, the decadent veil is an economic illusion that caused America to become “desensitized to black poverty, but also hypnotized by black celebrity,” while ignoring the deep financial distress Black America is actually in.

“The decadent veil not only warps the Black community’s vision outward to a larger economic world, but it also distorts [the] outside community’s view of Black America’s actual financial reality,” Moore tweeted.

Union underscored Moore’s point when she called out what she said “is a lot of smoke and mirrors” whereas Black celebrities’ online persona doesn’t match their offline lives.

“Having a lot of followers doesn’t equal having a lot of money. And there’s gonna be a lot of people that are really suffering that you wouldn’t expect because they always give us perfection and aspirational living. That’s not the truth,” Union said.