Gabrielle Monique Union is an American actress, singer and former model. Among her notable roles is as the cheerleader opposite Kirsten Dunst in the film Bring it On. Union also starred opposite Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in the blockbuster film Bad Boys II and played a medical doctor in the CBS drama series City of Angels. She also starred with LL Cool J and Meagan Good in Deliver Us from Eva in 2003.
Union was born in Omaha, Nebraska, the daughter of Theresa and Sylvester Union. She is African American and was raised Catholic. At the age of eight 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 and a year round athlete participating in soccer, basketball, and track. During this time, Union dated current Dallas Mavericks star point guard Jason Kidd.
Union originally intended to become a doctor in college. She attended the University of Nebraska before moving on to Cuesta College. She eventually transferred to UCLA and earned a degree in Sociology; while studying there, she interned at a modeling agency to earn extra academic credits. She was asked by the agency to sign on with them as a new model. She needed money to pay off some college loans and debts, so she eventually agreed to become a fashion model.
Union started her acting career in minor roles. Most were in teen movies like 10 Things I Hate About You and Love and Basketball. She also appeared in the television show Sister, Sister as Vanessa. In 2000, Union landed the role of Isis in the cheerleading movie Bring it On opposite Kirsten Dunst. Bring It On helped push Union out 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 rapper L.L. Cool J. The film received fair reviews from critics and it showed that Union was a leading lady. But first, Union landed the role of Oscar nominee Will Smith's girlfriend Syd in the film Bad Boys II, a box office success grossing over $273 million worldwide. Union then 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 also 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 specifically written black, if you knew Denzel was doing a movie you knew his wife, girl or love interest was going to be black 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". In 1996-2007, she appeared as Keesha Hamilton on 7th Heaven.
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"
In 1992, Union was attacked, beaten and raped at her part-time job in a shoestore. Her attacker later turned himself in and was sentenced to 33 years in prison. She has since become an advocate for victims of sexual assault.
In May 2001, Union married NFL player Chris Howard of the Jacksonville Jaguars; In November 2005, the couple separated; the divorce was finalized in April 2006.
She has been linked to Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade and Ludacris.
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