“You can be Mother Teresa and still get negativity,” claims actress Gabrielle Union as she settles down to conduct interviews for her latest comedic vehicle, The Perfect Holiday. “Nobody understands what it is you go through as an actress, and certainly nobody understands what you go through as an African-American actress.”

Dressed in an electric blue sleeveless top, Union looks radiant and is in a friendly and capricious mood as she addresses rumors that have plagued her TV and movie career.

“I don’t drink and drive, I don’t get arrested and no one has ever seen my private parts, but there’s such a hunger for every little bit of information and it’s so negative that you really can’t do a lot,” says the actress.

Those negative rumors Union is referring to stem from a divorce from ex-husband and former NFL star Chris Howard in 2005. Since then the 35-year-old actress has been a victim of vicious rumors. She’s been declared a home wrecker and publicly linked to celebrities ranging from R&B artist Chris Brown to Yankees heartthrob Derek Jeter and rapper Ludacris.

“I get those times when I don’t want to leave the house. I don’t want to be dogged. I don’t want to be shredded because I want to go to Target in my sweats,” says Union.

The Omaha native best known for her role as a suburban cheer captain in the dueling-cheerleaders flick Bring It On got her start in Hollywood when she interned at a modeling agency whilst in her senior year at UCLA. With her athletic frame, talent, good looks and infectious charm, it wasn’t long before she swapped the desk for the runway.

Acting offers soon came along with Union making several appearances in more than a dozen TV shows and movies, including “Moesha,” “7th Heaven,” Deliver Us from Eva and Cradle 2 the Grave. In 2001, she became the first African-American love interest on NBC’s all-white hit sitcom “Friends” and gained further notoriety when she headlined a role alongside Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in the action flick Bad Boys II.

With a resume that contains more comedic than dramatic roles, Union seems to lean towards comedies, but is quick to point out that she’s passionate about working – whatever the role may be.

“For the past couple of years I have had stuff happen that I don’t want to go through onscreen. I don’t play victims well, and I don’t respond to victim scripts. Life is bad enough, and I don’t want to leave the theater more depressed than when I started, but I am passionate about working, and whatever the role is try to be as prepared as possible.”

Returning to her comedic roots in the Queen Latifah-produced flick The Perfect Holiday, Union, who was previously seen playing Annette Bening’s lesbian lover in the drama Running with Scissors, plays a divorced mother of three who falls for a talented but struggling songwriter. This marks her fourth collaboration with actor Morris Chestnut whom she previously worked with in The Brothers, Two Can Play That Game and Breakin’ All the Rules.

“When you work with people you just don’t know what you’re gonna get,” says Union of her co-star and onscreen love interest. “Morris is humble, so free of ego and is such a gentleman. Always on time, he doesn’t come with an entourage or fanfare, plus he’s not a pervert so it makes having intimate scenes easy.”

Written and directed by Lance Rivera (The Cookout), this heart-warming film also features a hilarious ensemble cast including comedians Katt Williams, Charles Murphy and Faizon Love. Actresses Rachel True and Jill Marie Jones play Union’s supportive onscreen girlfriends whom she heavily relies on for advice. Union also admits to having a supportive group of close-knit girlfriends who get her through the bad times. “Everyone goes through it as bad stuff happens to people everyday. I do have a great group of friends, especially my actress friends who I turn to, for it’s very important that I have a great network.” The Perfect Holiday releases in theaters Dec. 12.