In Elegance Bratton’s narrative debut The Inspection, Gabrielle Union stars opposite film lead Jeremy Pope as his homophobic mother who refuses to accept her son’s identity and disowns him due in large part to her religious beliefs. This in turn makes Pope’s Ellis French enlist in the Marines and embark on a gruel, yet eye-opening, journey towards self-discovery.
The film made its global premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) over the weekend, and Union recently spoke to PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly’s photo and video studio while there to discuss the hardships she faced with the role as the mother of a transgender daughter in real life.
“As an actress, I normally look for characters that have some chunk of me in them. I did not see that in Inez,” she says of her character, Inez French.
“My darkness defined the common space with Inez, which is a very vulnerable place, to know that I too am capable. It’s not going to manifest itself in the same way, but when you are centering an oppressor’s idea of who you need to be to be considered worthy of all of the things, everybody is on the chopping block.
I always look at homophobes as trash. ‘Google is free and I’m not doing free labor for you to figure out how to love your kid.’ But through the process of this, I’m like, ‘Maybe I’m not so different in terms of what led me to that point.’
I’m never going to reject my child. My child, none of my children, are disposable. But I get the deep desire to be seen as worthy, and anything that threatens that can go, and for some people that includes their children.”
She concluded, “If one family can heal and stick together, then it’s a success.”
In addition to its premiere at TIFF, The Inspection will also close out this year’s 60th New York Film Festival. The coveted festival will run from Sept. 30 through Oct. 16. The Inspection is set to debut in theaters on Oct. 14.