Gabrielle Union

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Gabrielle Union
Union at the 2013 BET Awards 2014-04-27 06-17.jpeg
Union at the 2013 BET Awards
BornGabrielle Monique Union
(1972-10-29) October 29, 1972 (age 41)
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Alma materUCLA
Years active1993–present
Spouse(s)Chris Howard (m. 2001–06)
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Gabrielle Union
Union at the 2013 BET Awards 2014-04-27 06-17.jpeg
Union at the 2013 BET Awards
BornGabrielle Monique Union
(1972-10-29) October 29, 1972 (age 41)
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Alma materUCLA
Years active1993–present
Spouse(s)Chris Howard (m. 2001–06)

Gabrielle Monique Union (born October 29, 1972)[1] is an American actress and former model. Among her notable roles is her performance of the cheerleader opposite Kirsten Dunst in the film Bring It On, (2000). In 2000, she played a medical doctor in the CBS drama series City of Angels. In 2003, Union starred opposite Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in the blockbuster film Bad Boys II. Also in 2003, she starred with LL Cool J in Deliver Us from Eva. In 2008, she featured in the film Cadillac Records with Adrien Brody, Beyoncé Knowles and Jeffrey Wright. In 2012, Union featured in an ensemble cast of the film version of Think Like a Man.

Early life[edit]

Gabrielle Union was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on October 29, 1972. She was the middle child in a family of four daughters. She is the daughter of Theresa (née Glass), a former dancer, social worker, and phone company manager, and Sylvester C. Union, an AT&T manager and military sergeant. Union's early childhood years were spent as part of a rich African American community. Her large family had been in the Omaha area for many generations.[2][3][4] She was raised Catholic.[5] When Union was eight years old, she and her family moved to Pleasanton, California, where she grew up and attended Foothill High School. In high school, Union was an all-star point guard in basketball and a year-round athlete, also playing in soccer and running track.[citation needed]


Union attended the University of Nebraska, where she played on the soccer team, before transferring to Cuesta College. She eventually transferred to UCLA and earned a degree in sociology with honors.[citation needed] While studying there in her senior year, she interned at the Judith Fontaine Modeling & Talent Agency to earn extra academic credits. Oftentimes during her internships, clients would ask after her and be disappointed that she was only a behind-the-scenes employee. The agents started to notice this; so, upon the end of her internship, Union was asked to become a client. Invited by the agency's owner, Judith Fontaine, Union agreed and started working as a model because she thought it would be an easy way to pay off her college loans. She modeled until her agent discovered she had a talent for acting.[6][1]

Union started her acting career in minor roles. She landed her first audition (without any headshots) on "Saved by the Bell". Other of her earlier roles included those in teen movies such as 10 Things I Hate About You and Love & Basketball. In 1997, Union appeared in the sixth-season episode of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – "Sons and Daughters" as the Klingon N'Garen. She also appeared in Sister, Sister as Vanessa, in Smart Guy as Denise, and in five episodes of 7th Heaven as Keesha Hamilton.

In 2000, Union landed the role of Isis in the cheerleading movie Bring it On opposite Kirsten Dunst. Bring It On helped push Union into the mainstream and she began gaining more exposure.[7] This led to Union being cast in the CBS television drama City of Angels as Dr. Courtney Ellis.

Union was cast in her first leading role in the 2003 film Deliver Us from Eva with rapper L.L. Cool J. This was her second time working with the rapper since making a cameo in his video "Paradise" in 2002. The film received fair reviews from critics.[citation needed] Union landed the role of Will Smith's character's girlfriend Syd in the film Bad Boys II, a box office success grossing over $273 million worldwide . Union starred with Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx in the film Breakin' All the Rules in 2004.

Union starred in the short-lived 2005 ABC series Night Stalker. She has also starred in the independent drama films Neo Ned and Constellation, the latter of which was released to theaters. She won an award for Best Actress in Neo Ned at the Palm Beach International Film Festival, and the film received awards at several festivals.

Union in February 2009

She starred in the 2005 remake of The Honeymooners with comedian Cedric The Entertainer. In 2006, she starred as Busta Rhymes' love interest in the music video for Rhymes' "I Love My Chick". Union starred in the 2007 films Daddy's Little Girls by Tyler Perry (released on Valentine's Day) and the Christmas film The Perfect Holiday which opened on December 12.

In an interview with Art Nouveau Magazine, Union complained about the lack of roles for black actresses and actors in Hollywood: "There used to be [roles] specifically written black, if you knew Denzel was doing a movie you knew his wife, girl or love interest was going to be black [but] that’s not necessarily the case anymore. You’re in that room with every amazingly talented actress of every hue, and it’s a dogfight, it’s hard".[8] Moreover, although she often plays strong, opinionated characters, Union believes that "Hollywood needs to recognize all shades of African-American beauty."

In 2008, Union appeared on Ugly Betty for three episodes (36–38) as Renee, Wilhelmina Slater's (Vanessa L. Williams) sister and Daniel Meade's (Eric Mabius) love interest. She also made a cameo appearance in the music video for Ne-Yo's "Miss Independent".

She joined the cast of the U.S. television series Life on NBC and appeared in four episodes prior to the cancellation of series in May 2009.[9] She appeared in the ABC series FlashForward alongside John Cho and Joseph Fiennes as Zoey Andata, a role for which she got nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.[citation needed] In 2013, Union starred in Ava DuVernay's short film The Door as part of Miu Miu's Women's Tales campaign.[10]

In 2012, she worked with Tyler Perry on the romantic comedy Good Deeds playing the role of Natalie, the soon to be wife of Perry's character Wesley Deeds.[11] She now appears in Steve Harvey's movie Think Like A Man, another romantic comedy which is based on his book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. The movie debuted at No. 1 during the weekend of April 20, 2012. In 2013, she began as the star of the BET network show Being Mary Jane.[12]

In November 2013, she was a speaker and announced the award recipients at the ADL's Concert Against Hate. The event was held at the esteemed Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Personal life[edit]

In 1992, at age 19, Union was attacked and raped[13] at her part-time job in a shoe store. Her attacker later turned himself in and was sentenced to 33 years in prison. She has since become an advocate for survivors of assault.[14] Union is an Ambassador in Susan G. Komen for the Cure's Circle of Promise.[15] She ran in the Global Race for the Cure in Washington D.C. on Saturday, June 2, 2012, in honor of her late friend Kristen Martinez, who lost her battle with breast cancer.[16]

Union met NFL player Chris Howard at a party in 1999. They married on May 5, 2001, and separated in October 2005.[17] The divorce was finalized in 2006.[citation needed] In 2009, Union began dating NBA player Dwyane Wade.[18][19] Union and Wade became engaged in December 2013.[20]

Relationship controversy[edit]

Wade admitted to fathering a son named Xavier Zechariah Wade (b. 2013) with longtime acquaintance Aja Metoyer during a temporary split from Union.[21] In an interview with Glamour magazine, Union blamed her career for the split with Wade. The two have since reconciled their relationship.[22]



1999She's All ThatKatie
10 Things I Hate About YouChastity
H-E Double Hockey SticksGabrielle
2000Love & BasketballShawnee
Bring It OnIsis
2001Brothers, TheThe BrothersDenise Johnson
Two Can Play That GameConny Spalding
2002Welcome to CollinwoodMichelle
AbandonAmanda Luttrell
2003Deliver Us from EvaEvangeline 'Eva' Dandrige
Cradle 2 the GraveDaria
Bad Boys IISyd
2004Something the Lord MadeClara Thomas
Breakin' All the RulesNicky Callas
2005Neo NedRachael
The HoneymoonersAlice Kramden
Say UncleElise Carter
2006Running with ScissorsDorothy
2007ConstellationCarmel Boxer
Daddy's Little GirlsJulia
Box, TheThe BoxDet. Cris Romano
Perfect Holiday, TheThe Perfect HolidayNancy
2008Meet DaveNumber 3 – Cultural Officer
Cadillac RecordsGeneva Wade
2012Good DeedsNatalie
Think Like a ManKristen
In Our NatureVicki
2013Miss DialLong Story Caller
Being Mary JaneMary Jane Paul
2014Think Like a Man TooKristen
Finally FamousErica Long


1993Family MattersMall girl (uncredited)Episode: "Scenes from a Mall"
1995/96Saved by the Bell: The New ClassHilary / Jennifer2 episodes
1996MoeshaAshliEpisode: "Friends"
Malibu ShoresShannon EveretteEpisode: "The Competitive Edge"
Goode BehaviorTracy Monaghan3 episodes
1996–997th HeavenKeesha Hamilton5 episodes
1997Smart GuyLydiaEpisode: "Don't Do That Thing You Do"
Dave's WorldCarlyEpisode: "Oh Dad, Poor Dad"
HitzSoulEpisode: "The Godfather: Not the Movie"
Sister, SisterShawn / Vanessa2 episodes
City GuysKatisha GrantEpisode: "The Date"
Star Trek: Deep Space NineN'GarenEpisode: "Sons and Daughters"
1998The Steve Harvey ShowNaomi ParsonEpisode: "The He-Man, Player-Hater's Club"
1998/99CluelessLydia / Rebecca2 episodes
1999Grown UpsFeliciaEpisode: "Pilot"
H-E Double Hockey SticksGabrielleMovie
2000ERTamara DavisEpisode: "Family Matters"
The OthersLindsayEpisode: "Theta"
Zoe, Duncan, Jack & JaneLanaEpisode: "Too Much Pressure"
City of AngelsDr. Courtney Ellis11 episodes
2001Close to HomeGabbyMovie
FriendsKristen LeighEpisode: "The One With The Cheap Wedding Dress"
2003The Proud FamilySunny Stevens / Iesha (voice)Episode: "Hooray for Iesha"
2004The West WingMeeshel AndersEpisode: "The Benign Prerogative"
Something the Lord MadeClara ThomasMovie
2005Family GuyShauna Parks (voice)Episode: "Peter's Got Woods"
2005–06Night StalkerPerri Reed10 episodes
2007Football WivesChardonnay LaneMovie
2008Ugly BettyRenee Slater3 episodes
2009LifeJane Seever4 episodes
2010The BET HonorsHerselfMovie
2009–10FlashForwardZoey Andata9 episodes
2010Army WivesEpisode: "Murder in Charleston"
2011NTSF:SD:SUVSandy CanyonsEpisode: "Tijuana, We've Got a Problem"
2012Half the SkyHerselfDocumentary
2013-presentBeing Mary JaneMary Jane PaulMain Role

Awards and nominations[edit]

YearNominated workAwardCategoryResult
2001Bring It OnBlack Reel AwardsBest Supporting ActressWon
2002The BrothersNominated
2003Bring It OnMTV AwardsBest ActressNominated
2004Deliver Us From EvaBlack Reel AwardsNominated
Image AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Motion PictureNominated
Bad Boys IIOutstanding Actress in a Motion PictureNominated
Deliver Us From EvaMTV AwardsBest ActressNominated
Breakin' All the RulesBlack Reel AwardsBest Actress in a Musical or ComedyNominated
Something the Lord MadeBest Supporting Actress in a TV Movie/Mini-SeriesNominated
Breakin' All the RulesImage AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Motion PictureNominated
Something the Lord MadeOutstanding Actress in a TV Movie/Mini-SeriesNominated
2009Cadillac RecordsBlack Reel AwardsBest EnsembleWon
2006Neo NedPalm Beach International Film FestivalBest ActressWon
2013Think Like a ManBET AwardsNominated


  1. ^ a b "Gabrielle Union". 
  2. ^ Gabrielle Union Biography – Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved on 2013-03-13.
  3. ^ Gabrielle Union, A Star is Born « Leo Adam Biga's Blog. (2010-08-21). Retrieved on 2013-03-13.
  4. ^ Gabrielle Union Biography – life, family, childhood, parents, death, wife, school, mother – Newsmakers Cumulation. Retrieved on 2013-03-13.
  5. ^ Wiltz, Teresa (December 11, 2007). "Gabrielle Union, Relishing Her Latest 'Holiday' Treat". The Washington Post. 
  6. ^ DeMarco Williams (2008-01-04). "Gabrielle Union: National Treasure". Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  7. ^ "Gabrielle Union". BET. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  8. ^ | Art Nouveau Magazine | Art, Fashion, Music, Culture[dead link]
  9. ^ "Life Cancelled". Retrieved August 28, 2009. 
  10. ^ Miu Miu. Miu Miu. Retrieved on 2013-03-13.
  11. ^ "Gabrielle Union Talks Good Deeds, Think Like A Man". (2012-02-22). Retrieved on 2013-03-13.
  12. ^ "BET unveils new programming at Upfront". April 18, 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  13. ^ When I Was 19 Years Old, I Was Raped. Global Grind (2009-11-04). Retrieved on 2013-03-13.
  14. ^ Gabrielle Union's Rape Confession!. (2009-11-09). Retrieved on 2013-03-13.
  15. ^ G. Komen for the Cure(R)'s Circle of Promise Welcomes Gabrielle Union, Lalah Hathaway, Synthia SAINT JAMES as National Ambassadors. (2008-05-28). Retrieved on 2013-03-13.
  16. ^ Gabrielle Union | Gabrielle Union Takes Part In Cancer Charity Race. Contactmusic (2012-06-04). Retrieved on 2013-03-13.
  17. ^ "Gabrielle Union, Husband Split". People. November 1, 2005. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Gabrielle Union: Dwyane Wade Banned Me From Courtside Seats At Miami Heat Games". The Huffington Post. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2013. 
  19. ^ Johnson, Zach (April 9, 2012). "Gabrielle Union: I Didn't Break Up Dwyane Wade's Marriage". Us Weekly. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  20. ^ Fowler, Brandi (December 21, 2013). "Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade Are Engaged--See the Stunning Ring!". E!. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Dwyane Wade Fathers Child During Break from Gabrielle Union", "", Dec. 30, 2013
  22. ^ "Gabrielle Union talks priorities amid Dwyane Wade cheating scandal", "New York Daily News", Jan. 9, 2014

External links[edit]