Gabrielle Union

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Gabrielle Union
Union in May 2010
Born Gabrielle Monique Union
(1972-10-29) October 29, 1972 (age 41)
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Alma mater UCLA
Occupation Actress
Years active 1993–present
Spouse(s) Chris Howard (m. 2001–06) Dwyane Wade (m. 2013)

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. 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] and "to be an independent woman, standing on my own two feet, and that's the road I opted to take."[6] 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.”[7]

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."[8]


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.[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.[9][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.[10] 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.

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 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.[11] 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".[12] 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.[13] 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 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.[14] 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."[15]

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.[16] Also in 2013 Union starred in Ava DuVernay's short film The Door as part of Miu Miu's Women's Tales campaign.[17]

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.[18] 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."[19] By July 17, 2014 the film grossed $64,468,351.[20]

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?!”[21][22]

Personal life[edit]

While in high school, she dated former NBA player Jason Kidd. In 1992 (at age 19) Union was attacked and raped[23] 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.[24] 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".[25][26][27] 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.[15]

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?'"[28]

Union is an Ambassador in Susan G. Komen for the Cure's Circle of Promise.[29] 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.[30] Union admits to being a huge fan of Kimberly Elise.[31] 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."[32]

Union met NFL player Chris Howard at a party in 1999. They married on May 5, 2001, and separated in October 2005.[33] The divorce was finalized in 2006.[citation needed] 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."[15] 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."[34]

In 2009, Union began dating NBA player Dwyane Wade.[35][36] Union and Wade became engaged in December 2013.[37] 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."[38] In July 2014, they announced that guest would not be allowed to bring cell phones or cameras to their wedding in invitations sent out.[39]

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.[40] In an interview with Glamour magazine, Union blamed her career for the split with Wade. The two have since reconciled their relationship.[41]



Year Film Role
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
Abandon Amanda Luttrell
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
2005 Neo Ned Rachael
The Honeymooners Alice Kramden
Say Uncle Elise Carter
2006 Running with Scissors Dorothy
2007 Constellation Carmel Boxer
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
2012 Good Deeds Natalie
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


Year Title Role Notes
1993 Family Matters Mall girl (uncredited) Episode: "Scenes from a Mall"
1995/96 Saved by the Bell: The New Class Hilary / Jennifer 2 episodes
1996 Moesha Ashli Episode: "Friends"
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[edit]

Year Nominated work Award Category Result
2001 Bring It On Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actress Won
2002 The Brothers Nominated
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
2005 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


  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. ^ Isokariari, Mary (February 27, 2014). "Gabrielle Union Opens Up About Being Raped As Teenager". The Voice Online. 
  7. ^ Rodgers, Jazmine Denise (February 25, 2014). "Gabrielle Union Opens Up About Rape Ordeal". 
  8. ^ Carter, Kelley (April 17, 2012). "Gabrielle Union talks dating, sports". 
  9. ^ DeMarco Williams (2008-01-04). "Gabrielle Union: National Treasure". Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  10. ^ "Gabrielle Union". BET. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  11. ^ Murray, Rebecca. "Gabrielle Union Discusses "Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls"". 
  12. ^ | Art Nouveau Magazine | Art, Fashion, Music, Culture[dead link]
  13. ^ "Life Cancelled". Retrieved August 28, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Gabrielle Union Talks Good Deeds, Think Like A Man". (2012-02-22). Retrieved on 2013-03-13.
  15. ^ a b c "Gabrielle Union - The "Good Deeds" Interview". 
  16. ^ "BET unveils new programming at Upfront". April 18, 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  17. ^ Miu Miu. Miu Miu. Retrieved on 2013-03-13.
  18. ^ "June 30, 2014". Sandra Rose. 
  19. ^ "Gabrielle Union Confident "Think Like a Man Too" Will Be a Hit". Q98. June 19, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Think Like a Man Too". Box Office Mojo. 
  21. ^ Steiner, Amanda Michelle (June 29, 2014). "Jeremy Meeks: Foxy Felon Makes An Appearance At The BET Awards". Hollywood Life. 
  22. ^ Adejobi, Alicia (June 30, 2014). "Gabrielle Union And Regina Hall Mock Hot Convicted Felon Jeremy Meeks At 2014 BET Awards". Entertainment Wise. 
  23. ^ When I Was 19 Years Old, I Was Raped. Global Grind (2009-11-04). Retrieved on 2013-03-13.
  24. ^ Gabrielle Union's Rape Confession!. (2009-11-09). Retrieved on 2013-03-13.
  25. ^ "Gabrielle Union fights for raped girl". Sunday World. July 18, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Gabrielle Union Supports Rape Victim Jada #IStandWithJada". CocoaFab. July 16, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Gabrielle Union - Gabrielle Union Supports Teen Rape Victim's Campaign For Justice". July 17, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Gabrielle Union Tells Oprah Why She Stopped Being A 'Mean Girl' (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. June 20, 2013. 
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ Gabrielle Union | Gabrielle Union Takes Part In Cancer Charity Race. Contactmusic (2012-06-04). Retrieved on 2013-03-13.
  32. ^ Eskridge, Sonya (July 6, 2014). "Read For Filth: Gabrielle Union Gets Slammed For Thanking Mentors". News Pittsburgh Courier. 
  33. ^ "Gabrielle Union, Husband Split". People. November 1, 2005. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  34. ^ Dreyer, Lindsay (January 6, 2014). "Gabrielle Union Looks Back on Her First Marriage: "I Was All About Getting the Ring"". Wetpaint. 
  35. ^ "Gabrielle Union: Dwyane Wade Banned Me From Courtside Seats At Miami Heat Games". The Huffington Post. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2013. 
  36. ^ Johnson, Zach (April 9, 2012). "Gabrielle Union: I Didn't Break Up Dwyane Wade's Marriage". Us Weekly. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  37. ^ Fowler, Brandi (December 21, 2013). "Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade Are Engaged--See the Stunning Ring!". E!. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  38. ^ Bleier, Evan (February 11, 2014). "Gabrielle Union tells Arsenio Hall she demanded Dwyane Wade sign a prenup". UPI. 
  39. ^ Haynes, Danielle (July 19, 2014). "Gabrielle Union, Dwayne Wade say no cameras at wedding". UPI. 
  40. ^ "Dwyane Wade Fathers Child During Break from Gabrielle Union", "", Dec. 30, 2013
  41. ^ "Gabrielle Union talks priorities amid Dwyane Wade cheating scandal", "New York Daily News", Jan. 9, 2014

External links[edit]