Embracing The Live Unforgettable Mindset With Gabrielle Union

Gabrielle Union 5 (1)Photo Credit: Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Waldorf Astoria

On November 30th, Gabrielle Union and Waldorf Astoria Chicago came together for an incredible evening as the iconic property hosted their second dinner event in celebration of its new “Live Unforgettable” campaign. The talented actress and The New York Times bestselling author, hosted the dinner which began with a cocktail hour leading into a formal, seated dinner in the Private Dining Room of Margeaux Brasserie.

Tablescape Shot 1Photo Credit: Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Waldorf Astoria

“Live Unforgettable,” the newly introduced Waldorf Astoria brand philosophy, focuses around the creation of unforgettable experiences that become memories for a lifetime and the evening’s festivities definitely did just that. The ambiance in the room was as welcoming and enchanting as Gabrielle herself. Fortunately we were lucky enough to have a seat at the table and even more fortunate, we had the opportunity to speak with Gabrielle about how she creates unforgettable moments in her everyday life.

Gabrielle Union 6Photo Credit: Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Waldorf Astoria

What does the Live Unforgettable mindset mean to you?

“Living without limits. You know what I mean? Living your best life. You don’t have to wait until you’re at your lowest point to realize you’re not living your most authentic life.

I think this captures that feeling of I’m not waiting anymore, I’m not placing boundaries on my life, I’m not putting limits on my life. I’m not waiting on some perfect moment that’s never going to come to start being amazing and going amazing places and doing amazing things or dancing on a table or eating the best food or drinking a little too much. LIVE. You get one shot at this”

What are the most important values you want to teach your children?

“Compassion. Empathy. Empathy is a big one. I think we’re missing. We are not always going to be able to be sympathetic because we’re not always going to have the same life experiences but you can say, ‘If I put myself in your shoes, how would I want to be treated? How would I want to be regarded? How would I want to be thought of?”

I think a lot of adults lack that quality because they didn’t get it as kids. So I would hope that we could teach our kids to be compassionate and empathetic and kind when there is no upside.”

Gabrielle Union 4Photo Credit: Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Waldorf Astoria

How do you create unforgettable moments in your day-to-day life?

“Being my most authentic self. Once I sort of let go of the idea of who I thought I was supposed to be or trying to squeeze myself into a box that I assumed everyone wanted me to be in and I got real with myself and took a really tough, brutal, and honest look at myself and made adjustments and evolved- that’s how you live your best life, that’s how you see the world with fresh eyes and that’s how you truly have the best times of your life.

But if you’re always trying to have fun while you’re still in the box, it doesn’t translate at all. No- then you’re living an Instagrammable life as opposed to your authentic life that’s actually fun. That you don’t care whether or not you document.”

You are such a role model for everyone but especially young women, if you could get one message across to them (or two) what would it be?

“As we are all trying to live our most authentic life and be fearless in that, empathy again comes into play. You know we like to say ‘I’m living my best life but I’m going to judge yours’. From our place of authenticity, again it doesn’t go- it’s like having a good time while living in a box.

Once you embrace being fearless in this sense of living without limits, really seeing yourself, that takes bravery to really look at yourself in a critical way and see yourself for exactly as you are and make the necessary changes and then be accountable. That takes some fearlessness.

So I would say be fearless as f*ck and then be empathetic because other people are going through that same journey and it’s not easy. And having eyeballs on you whether you’re Julia Roberts or Julie from down the street- everyone deserves the same amount of compassion and empathy.”

Gabrielle Union 3Photo Credit: Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Waldorf Astoria

What advice would you offer to people who are stuck in their day-to-day rut that would encourage them to get out and see the world?

“Do different shit! We’re stuck in the same rut because we do the same things. We say we want to try somewhere new but then we end up at Uno’s, eating the same pizza we’ve eaten for 20 years. There could be a family owned Italian spot with grandma in the back who has amazing stories and we could be living a different life eating different kinds of pizza- still pizza but a different experience.

I remember when I first came to Chicago and everyone was like ‘OH Michigan Avenue’ and someone was like ‘Bucktown’ and I said I’m going to Bucktown because that just sounds kind of dope and now that’s one of my favorite places in the city. But had I just stuck to that box people are trying to put you in, well you’re going to have great Instagrammable moments but are they really amazing?

Everyone assumes that if you don’t spend your life savings on a trip it can’t be amazing. Some of our best times were in Lincoln Park for free and we would walk there and just discover different parts of the city. The best experiences are in these streets, lets hit these streets. And throw caution to the wind.”

Tell me one of your craziest travel experiences.

“Well there were some monkeys in Costa Rica. I wanted to hang out with them but they didn’t enjoy me the way I enjoyed them. Perhaps they threw things at us but that was part of the adventure.

That same day we were supposed to zip lining, again something everyone says you have to do, when you visit Costa Rica. On our way we saw a sign ‘Do you want to wrestle cattle?’ and granted we had a couple we were like ‘yes, yes we do’, it made perfect sense. We were on horseback in the rainforest, wrestling cattle with some ranchers and did not go zip lining on that trip.

You know, we were just like, ‘lets get off the resort.’ If I wanted to hang out with Americans I would have stayed in America. Lets actually meet some Costa Ricans. Lets actually ask people in town, ‘Where do you go?’ We just kind of threw our itinerary out the window and we got chased by monkeys and maybe they threw things at us.

We wrestled cattle instead of zip lining, we went to local bars and mom and pop restaurants that aren’t in the Zagat guide and we had the time of our lives. And we saved money!”

Gabrielle Union 2Photo Credit: Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Waldorf Astoria

How has your mindset evolved from when you first started your career?

“When I first started my career I was like, ‘I want to make a certain amount, I want to save a certain amount, I want to have 2.5 kids, I want a white picket fence, I want a golden doodle. You know? You want the dream!’ After my first marriage I was like, ‘well that dream sucked, how about I figure out what my own dream is? Because none of this was fun for me and at no point was any of this fun.’

I watched other people have fun at my first wedding. The second time around as I got older and got married for the second time in my early 40s, I was the last person to leave my wedding because literally my husband and I were dancing til we fell out. We were literally the last people to leave our wedding because that’s how much fun we were having. We realized our wedding is for us and if people want to come and celebrate with us that’s awesome but were not throwing this party for them.

Slight shifts in thinking, you know? Enjoy your vacation – you should need a vacation from your vacation because you should be going balls to the wall as opposed to ‘I should sleep for 10 hours, I should go to all of these restaurants that were recommended by my dad’s friends who are 1,000 years older than I am. I don’t want to have the vacation of a retiree that lives in Boca and I’m 20.’ Once you stop living your life for other people and tick things off boxes you’re actually going to have a much more amazing life that’s going to be fun for you.”

What are some of the most unforgettable moments you’ve experienced in your life when it comes to family…besides the wedding?

“We went out on a warm day, warm for Chicago, so you’re talking 60 degrees, and we were like lets just go ‘be a family’ and walk through the park, which you couldn’t really do in Miami and we don’t live close enough to a park in L.A. to walk, so this was one of those times where we made it a block, and everyone is like ‘D Wade!’ But everyone let us just be a family and it was one of the best times we’ve had in the past 5 years.

And we were like lets just do cool stuff that doesn’t cost a mortgage payment for a family of five and let’s bring the dogs and see how it goes. You meet other families who ask “What vet do you go to? Where’d you get that collar? We’re going to play 2 on 2 football do you want to join?”

Like that never happens to us. Just doing cool awesome stuff that didn’t cost anything and making friends and meeting our neighbors. Because we don’t get to do that, it’s easier to plan a yacht trip than to go to the park with the family and four dogs.”

Waldorf Astoria Live Unforgettable Event Hosted By Gabrielle UnionPhoto Credit: Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Waldorf Astoria

You’ve created so much success in your life and have experienced a lot that most people wouldn’t have been able to bounce back from. How were you able do this?

“Thinking I deserved it. I went from kind of feeling like a fraud waiting to be found out to ‘wait I actually have value? I have value. I have worth. I deserve this.’ So I’m not just working hard to tick off a box or to make my mom happy, or make someone proud.

I deserve the success that comes from this hard work. I have value and I can share what I learn and how I did it and how I got to this place. And I’m hoping other people don’t wait until they’re 45 to recognize their self worth and to realize the world is your oyster and you deserve it all and not just the boxes somebody put us in.”

Which of your characters/films do you think has exemplified the Live Unforgettable mindset the most?

“I think where we’re going to end up with Mary Jane, you’ll see the full evolution of her getting to that place of seeing her self worth, that she’s deserving of an amazing big demonstrative love, and a big career, that its okay to feel resentful sometimes when other people don’t pull their weight and that its okay to be who you are, you don’t have to apologize your whole life, for having desires or wants or needs.

I think her evolution, it’s been slow, it’s been maddening, as people have watched my life I’m sure they felt it’s been slow and maddening but now you’re like OKAY ALRIGHT! It’s like the end of a marathon when your nipples are bleeding and people are like keep going!! That’s where I feel like I’m at, keep going even though your nipples are bleeding.”