Actress Gabrielle Union has joined the cast of the ensemble dramedy The Public alongside Alec Baldwin, Taylor Schilling, Jena Malone, Emilio Estevez and Che “Rhymefest” Smith.  Estevez will serve as director the film from his own script.

The Public centers around a standoff with police and library officials when library patrons, many who are homeless and mentally ill, stage a sit-in, turning the Cincinnati Public Library into an impromptu homeless shelter for one night during a cold snap.  According to Estevez, the story asks the question, “Who will care for those individuals who are unable to care for themselves?”  Principal photography will begin in mid-January in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Union will play an ambitious television news reporter who uses the event as a way to bolster ratings for the network as well her own personal profile.

Union starred in the recent film, The Birth of a Nation directed by Nate Parker, and she’s been the star of BET’s Being Mary Jane since 2013.  Union can currently be seen on the big screen in Almost Christmas and in the upcoming film Sleepless Night.