Union in May 2010
|Born||Gabrielle Monique Union
October 29, 1972
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Chris Howard (m. 2001–06) Dwyane Wade (m. 2013)|
Gabrielle Monique Union (born October 29, 1972) 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.
Gabrielle Union was born in Omaha, Nebraska. 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. She was raised Catholic and "to be an independent woman, standing on my own two feet, and that's the road I opted to take." Her parents divorced after thirty years of marriage and Union believes her parents handled the divorce in a positive manner, Union's parents not making their issues the issues of the children. Union added: "They handled their divorce and our subsequent transition into a blended family with grace and dignity and respect. They always put us first and didn’t involve us. I’m lucky that I can just mirror what my parents did and always put the kids first. They’re pretty awesome, I’m lucky.”
On her college football memories, Union reflected: "In my family if you couldn’t talk Cornhusker football – that means knowing the black shirt defense, knowing the I-back formation – then you don’t get to have an opinion. When I first toured the Nebraska campus and I saw Turner Gill walk, I freaked out. That was like the biggest star-struck moment I’ve probably ever had in my life. But it’s because I grew up in a household that always talked specifically Cornhusker football and Big 8 sports, at the time."
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. 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.
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. 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 LL Cool J. This was her second time working with the rapper since making a cameo in his video "Paradise" in 2002. 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 ABC series Night Stalker. She also has 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.
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 film Daddy's Little Girls by Tyler Perry (released on Valentine's Day). Before working with Perry, she went to see his stage show, which helped her understand him and his audience. She also appeared in the 2007 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". 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. 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. 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. Union said that after she read the script she became interested in working with Tyler Perry again. "Once I read the script, the biggest thing was that I loved how he didn’t make her a bitch. My character’s usually the villain in this sort of romantic drama. I was very happy that Tyler made her a normal person who has a great career, great friends and who comes from a great family. So, in this case, maybe the relationship’s just not working instead of my character’s being an evil shrew." She also expressed her positive views on working with the cast, describing Phylicia Rashad as "an icon, and amazing."
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. Also in 2013 Union starred in Ava DuVernay's short film The Door as part of Miu Miu's Women's Tales campaign.
Union reprised her role as Kristen in Think Like a Man Too in 2014, which premiered on June 20, 2014, and has been met with mostly negative reviews. She attended the premiere of the film at the TCL Chinese Theatre on June 9, 2014, with the rest of the cast. Prior to the film's release, Union expressed her and the cast's belief that the film would do well at the box office. "We had so much fun with the first one. And part of what people responded to was our fun as friends. So to get to come together, all of us friends -- we've all known each other over a decade -- to go to Vegas and they're going to pay us, we knew it would translate again." By July 17, 2014 the film grossed $64,468,351.
Union appeared at the 2014 BET Awards on June 29, 2014, and while on the Nokia Theater stage to present the first award of the night for Best New Artist with Regina Hall, Union and Hall exchanged banter on the subject of Jeremy Meeks, a felon who was signed with an agent days prior to the awards after his mugshot was released online and he attracted attention for his physical appearance. Union joked: "Y’all are obsessed with this dude. I mean, for real. A criminal? This picture was posted on a police department Facebook page. My question is: who in the hell is looking for a date on a police department Facebook page?!”
While in high school, she dated former NBA player Jason Kidd. In 1992 (at age 19) Union was attacked and raped 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. Union has voiced her support for Jada, a Texas teenager who was allegedly taken advantage of after passing out during a party and had her assault filmed and posted in clips online, where her assault has been mocked by others on social networking websites. Union posted a picture of Jada on Instagram and wrote: "Rape is never funny. Ever. This brave young woman is what a real-life superhero looks like... Someone who stands up and acts when injustice occurs. She's just a child and she's using her voice for good, even in the face of her own personal horror... My hero #IStandWithJada". She feels that anyone that wants to "follow in her footsteps" should stay in school, since they have "the rest" of their lives to act.
Union said during an appearance on Oprah's Next Chapter that she used to be a "mean girl" until attending a party with her trainer and sounding board, A.J. Jackson. "I was holding court -- because I can turn a phrase and be a little slick myself -- and I was trashing somebody. Just ripping them to shreds, head to toe," Union recalled. "A.J. pulls me aside and says, 'Okay, now, how did your life change? Did you get the guy? Did you get the job? Is your house any bigger? Did money just magically get put in your pocket? What positive [event] happened in your life after you just tore that woman down?'"
Union is an Ambassador in Susan G. Komen for the Cure's Circle of Promise. 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 died from breast cancer. Union admits to being a huge fan of Kimberly Elise. She has thanked Regina King, Holly Robinson Peete, Tichina Arnold and Tisha Campbell-Martin for always being there to “show me the way, to hold my hand, to be a partner in crime, and a giver of hope and discipline… they give love."
Union met NFL player Chris Howard at a party in 1999. They married on May 5, 2001, and separated in October 2005. The divorce was finalized in 2006. Union says that when she got divorced she "sort of realized that I hadn’t been making sound choices which were the best for me to pursue my hopes and dreams and aspirations and passions." In 2014, eight years after the marriage ended, Union admitted she may have rushed into the relationship for the wrong reasons and has said that when "I was in my 20s, I was all about getting the ring."
In 2009, Union began dating NBA player Dwyane Wade. Union and Wade became engaged in December 2013. Union revealed during a February 2014 interview with Arsenio Hall that she had Wade sign a prenuptial agreement and referred to her previous marriage to Chris Howard. "For this marriage, the biggest difference between this and the last marriage will be a prenup, at my insistence," Union stated. "When you have your own stuff, you don't need to worry about anybody else's stuff… The reality is, I've never seen Dwyane balance a check book, so I got to protect my stuff." In July 2014, they announced that guest would not be allowed to bring cell phones or cameras to their wedding in invitations sent out.
Wade admitted to fathering a son named Xavier Zechariah Wade (b. 2013) with longtime acquaintance Aja Metoyer during a temporary split from Union. In an interview with Glamour magazine, Union blamed her career for the split with Wade. The two have since reconciled their relationship.
|1999||She's All That||Katie|
|10 Things I Hate About You||Chastity|
|H-E Double Hockey Sticks||Gabrielle|
|2000||Love & Basketball||Shawnee|
|Bring It On||Isis|
|2001||Brothers, TheThe Brothers||Denise Johnson|
|Two Can Play That Game||Conny Spalding|
|2002||Welcome to Collinwood||Michelle|
|2003||Deliver Us from Eva||Evangeline 'Eva' Dandrige|
|Cradle 2 the Grave||Daria|
|Bad Boys II||Syd|
|2004||Something the Lord Made||Clara Thomas|
|Breakin' All the Rules||Nicky Callas|
|The Honeymooners||Alice Kramden|
|Say Uncle||Elise Carter|
|2006||Running with Scissors||Dorothy|
|Daddy's Little Girls||Julia|
|Box, TheThe Box||Det. Cris Romano|
|Perfect Holiday, TheThe Perfect Holiday||Nancy|
|2008||Meet Dave||Number 3 – Cultural Officer|
|Cadillac Records||Geneva Wade|
|Think Like a Man||Kristen|
|In Our Nature||Vicki|
|2013||Miss Dial||Long Story Caller|
|Being Mary Jane||Mary Jane Paul|
|2014||Think Like a Man Too||Kristen|
|Finally Famous||Erica Long|
|1993||Family Matters||Mall girl (uncredited)||Episode: "Scenes from a Mall"|
|1995/96||Saved by the Bell: The New Class||Hilary / Jennifer||2 episodes|
|Malibu Shores||Shannon Everette||Episode: "The Competitive Edge"|
|Goode Behavior||Tracy Monaghan||3 episodes|
|1996–99||7th Heaven||Keesha Hamilton||5 episodes|
|1997||Smart Guy||Lydia||Episode: "Don't Do That Thing You Do"|
|Dave's World||Carly||Episode: "Oh Dad, Poor Dad"|
|Hitz||Soul||Episode: "The Godfather: Not the Movie"|
|Sister, Sister||Shawn / Vanessa||2 episodes|
|City Guys||Katisha Grant||Episode: "The Date"|
|Star Trek: Deep Space Nine||N'Garen||Episode: "Sons and Daughters"|
|1998||The Steve Harvey Show||Naomi Parson||Episode: "The He-Man, Player-Hater's Club"|
|1998/99||Clueless||Lydia / Rebecca||2 episodes|
|1999||Grown Ups||Felicia||Episode: "Pilot"|
|H-E Double Hockey Sticks||Gabrielle||Movie|
|2000||ER||Tamara Davis||Episode: "Family Matters"|
|The Others||Lindsay||Episode: "Theta"|
|Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane||Lana||Episode: "Too Much Pressure"|
|City of Angels||Dr. Courtney Ellis||11 episodes|
|2001||Close to Home||Gabby||Movie|
|Friends||Kristen Leigh||Episode: "The One With The Cheap Wedding Dress"|
|2003||The Proud Family||Sunny Stevens / Iesha (voice)||Episode: "Hooray for Iesha"|
|2004||The West Wing||Meeshel Anders||Episode: "The Benign Prerogative"|
|Something the Lord Made||Clara Thomas||Movie|
|2005||Family Guy||Shauna Parks (voice)||Episode: "Peter's Got Woods"|
|2005–06||Night Stalker||Perri Reed||10 episodes|
|2007||Football Wives||Chardonnay Lane||Movie|
|2008||Ugly Betty||Renee Slater||3 episodes|
|2009||Life||Jane Seever||4 episodes|
|2010||The BET Honors||Herself||Movie|
|2009–10||FlashForward||Zoey Andata||9 episodes|
|2010||Army Wives||Episode: "Murder in Charleston"|
|2011||NTSF:SD:SUV||Sandy Canyons||Episode: "Tijuana, We've Got a Problem"|
|2012||Half the Sky||Herself||Documentary|
|2013-present||Being Mary Jane||Mary Jane Paul||Main Role|
Awards and nominations
|2001||Bring It On||Black Reel Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|2003||Bring It On||MTV Awards||Best Actress||Nominated|
|2004||Deliver Us From Eva||Black Reel Awards||Nominated|
|Image Awards||Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture||Nominated|
|Bad Boys II||Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture||Nominated|
|Deliver Us From Eva||MTV Awards||Best Actress||Nominated|
|Breakin' All the Rules||Black Reel Awards||Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy||Nominated|
|Something the Lord Made||Best Supporting Actress in a TV Movie/Mini-Series||Nominated|
|Breakin' All the Rules||Image Awards||Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture||Nominated|
|Something the Lord Made||Outstanding Actress in a TV Movie/Mini-Series||Nominated|
|2006||Neo Ned||Palm Beach International Film Festival||Best Actress||Won|
|2009||Cadillac Records||Black Reel Awards||Best Ensemble||Won|
|2013||Think Like a Man||BET Awards||Best Actress||Nominated|
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