GABRIELLE UNION, ONE OF HOLLYWOOD’S MOST SUCCESSFUL LEADING LADIES

She’s our cherished cheerleader who won’t tolerate the racist, culture-copying BS in Bring It On. She’s our favorite, misunderstood type-A sister in Deliver Us from Eva. She’s the sadity yet relatable newswomen we root for in Being Mary Jane. Gabrielle Union is one of our most beloved leading ladies of our time. Off the screen, she’s our favorite outspoken homegirl/bestie/cousin in our heads. And, on top of all that, we know we all want her to spill the tea on how she’s been able to keep her beautiful black so impressively uncracked!!

Gabrielle Union’s childhood was varied. While she grew up in a loving home, she certainly did have some hardships and major insecurities to overcome. Gabrielle was born in Omaha, Nebraska on October 29th, 1972. Her family moved to Pleasanton, California when she was eight years old. Growing up, she was taught to be an independent, worldly woman. 

Even though she always knew her parents and family loved her very much, Gabrielle grew feeling like the ugly duckling. “In my family, light skin was the standard of beauty. This was true both in my dad’s family, who were all dark-skinned, and my mom’s family, who were very light,” Gabrielle wrote in her memoir We’re Going to Need More Wine. “My mom was the most beautiful woman in the world to me – and I looked nothing like her.”  


It was a long journey for Gabrielle to gain confidence and see herself as beautiful. Her journey to the screen wasn’t a straight or easy path either. Following her graduation from UCLA in 1996 with a bachelor’s in sociology, Gabrielle, like many post-grads, was left with college debt. She signed with a modeling agency and after landing print work for magazines like Teen and Savoy, she moved. On to small on-screen roles on shows like Family Matters, Moesha, and Smart Guy. Soon, those small roles led to recurring parts on TV series like Sister, Sister and Seventh Heaven. Eventually, Gabrielle started becoming a darling of the big screen, landing supporting roles in She’s All That, Love & Basketball, and 10 Things I Hate About You. 

What most would call her big break came in 2000 when she starred alongside Kirsten Dunst in the hit teen movie Bring It On. Despite being well into her 20s – in fact, inching on 30 – Gabrielle playing teenage roles. She began to take on more adult roles in shows like City of Angels and Friends, as well as movies such as The Brothers, Two Can Play That Game and Bad Boys II, alongside Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. 

Beyond having an impressive filmography a mile long, Gabrielle is also an accomplished author and a vocal activist. Her 2017 autobiography, We’re Going to Need More Wine – which was an instant New York Times Bestseller and was nominated for a NAACP Image Award –  recounts the details of her childhood and career path, as well as some of the more difficult experiences in her life, including one which she continues to deal with to this day. At the age of 19, Gabrielle was violently raped at gunpoint while she was at work at a local Payless. Following her own painful experience, Gabrielle has always been an outspoken advocate for mental health and the support of sexual assault victims. She has also been blunt in her criticism of gun violence, especially disproportionately against young African American men. 

Overcoming adversity to become one of Hollywood’s most successful African American leading ladies, is it any wonder why we love Gabrielle Union? And she’s not the only phenomenal talent we can’t get enough of. More inspirational and uplifting stories for the African American and Latino communities are overflowing over at digitalpodcastnetwork.com. The Digital Podcast Network is your source for unique perspectives on relationships, entertainment, sports, news, and everything in between; shows like Sista Speak and Lorena on Love. The Digital Podcast Network brings stories like Gabrielle Union’s and many more to life for global audiences. Head over to digitalpodcastnetwork.com to start your free trial today.

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