By Darren Franich
February 23, 2015 at 08:22 PM EST

Gabrielle Union has been a fixture on big and small screens since a run of performances in turn-of-the-millennium films She’s All ThatTen Things I Hate About You, and Love & Basketball led to her showcase role as enemy cheer chaptain Isis in Bring It On. Now she’s in the midst of a very busy period, with a scenestealing turn as a reality TV princess in Top Five and her lead role on BET’s Being Mary Jane.

Union sat down to talk about her career—and how majoring in sociology led to acting—as part of EW Lightbulb, a series of conversations with today’s leading creators about their inspirations and their methods.