Gabrielle Monique Union Wade (born October 29, 1972) is an American actress. Among her notable roles is her performance as 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 hit film Bad Boys II. Also in 2003, she starred with LL Cool J in Deliver Us from Eva. In 2008, she was featured in the film Cadillac Records with Adrien Brody, Beyoncé Knowles and Jeffrey Wright. In 2012, Union was featured in an ensemble cast of the film version of Think Like a Man.
Gabrielle Union was born in Omaha, Nebraska, the daughter of Theresa (Glass), a phone company manager and social worker, and Sylvester E. Union, a business executive and military sergeant. 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.” Union’s earliest memory is playing catch with her father. As a child, Union had no friends. According to Union, her mother taught her to have “a world perspective” and took her to a gay pride parade at the age of eight after the family moved to Pleasanton, California, where she was raised. Her parents divorced after 30 years of marriage and Union said, “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.”
Union grew up with self-esteem issues relating to her appearance, as she believed growing up that blonde women were “the ideal of beauty” and “if I looked nothing like that, then I must be ugly.” She longed to be acknowledged for her physical appearance. “I was never really looked upon as being pretty. 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.”