The actress opens up about motherhood, her children's book Welcome to the Party, and her TV show L.A.'s Finest.

By Rosy Cordero
May 29, 2020 at 08:21 PM EDT

Gabrielle Union is fully aware that fans are obsessed with her 1-year-old daughter, Kaavia James, whom the internet has nicknamed Shady Baby for the hilariously stern faces she makes at the camera when she's not having it. So it should be no surprise at all that Ms. Kaavia already has Hollywood representation!

Union spoke to EW about how Kaavia's birth via surrogate inspired her new children's book Welcome to the Party (out now), how her baby's arrival changed her life forever, and what fans can expect from the second season of her TV series L.A.'s Finest.

Gabrielle Union and Kaavia James Union Wade
Credit: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congratulations on your first children's book. What's it about it?

GABRIELLE UNION: The book is about the anticipation our family felt about the arrival of Kaavia James. It's about our celebration of her and how our journey wasn't how we expected, but it was right on time and perfect. We wanted to create this space for other families who are anticipating the addition of a new family member and how exciting that is. I hope the book helps create a bit more space to have the conversation that there are all different kinds of families.

Welcome to the Party by Gabrielle Union
Credit: HarperCollins

Your family is open about so much. Did you ever think about keeping your surrogacy a secret?

No, our family really prides itself on being as transparent as possible about our life. We don't see the point of surviving something or celebrating something that you're going to keep to yourself. Especially when it's something other people can benefit from a sense of community and an understanding that they're not alone.

How has Kaavia James, lovingly known as Shady Baby by her fans, changed your life?

[Laughs] She really is such a light, and she's just pure comedy. We were just talking about how she's a logical baby, which is not a typical word you associate with babies. She doesn't do a ton of baby stuff. You know, she's been here before and she's not with that s—. She wants all that smoke and she believes she has credibility. Her judgment of character is pretty pitch-perfect, so her reaction is dead-on. I just realized as we were talking, how Kaav brings so much joy and hope to so many people. So until she's old enough to say, "Hey, let's kill this!" we're going to keep sharing her.

She's such a star in her own right, she may need representation.

Oh, she already has it! We learned pretty quickly that she needed her own representation. People would ask, "Can Kaavia be in the [promo] photo [with you]?" So now I just say, "You've got to talk to her representation." Don't try to get a two-for-one deal! She has her own team.

Your show with Jessica Alba, L.A.'s Finest, is launching its second season on Spectrum in June, and season 1 will also be airing on Fox in the fall. How are you guys feeling?

I've never heard of something like this happening before! Generally a show may start on a network, then if it gets canceled it can find a second life on cable or streaming. So we're super-grateful that more people will have the opportunity to join us on our adventure. It's so dope, really. There are no shows that have two women of color headlining and as executive producers. It's all been very unexpected and awesome.

Orlando Jones is joining you guys in season 2. What can you share about his role?

Orlando and I have been friends for over 20 years. When I saw what was happening with him on American Gods, where he was just so brilliant and he really made that show. So seeing how all that unfolded, I just wanted to create something juicy and very on-brand for Orlando so he could come and play with us. He was kind enough to agree. Initially, it was about making sure this dope actor could keep working and always have a platform. But what we got from him is a tour-de-force performance. And where we leave off in season 2, if there's a season 3 we can explore even more from Orlando, which would be a dream.

The season 2 trailer shows Danny Trejo, Yancey Arias, and Ernie Hudson. Has it been important to you and Jessica to support diverse casting?

That was a massive point for me and Jess. We've all been in the business for so many years and know so many talented actors who haven't had a chance. We really wanted to provide opportunities for talent both in front of the cameras and behind. What's the point of having a seat at the table if you're by yourself?

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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