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Gabrielle Union G


Actor and Advocate by Karen Sorrell


abrielle Union is passionate, beautiful, smart, hardworking and, above all, gracious. She hails from “the largest black family in Nebraska,” and that family network has given her a solid foundation that has stayed with her through the ups and downs of life. “From birth, what’s been passed down through generations of the Dozens of Cousins, which is what our family is called, is family first. That’s what I’ve been raised with,” she says. “That’s all I’ve ever seen. I have so many great examples of people valuing family and valuing quality time with family. We like to hang out with each other. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company.”


Those strong family values meant that


there was never any question about Union attending college: “In my family, we val- ue education. I approached it the same way I approach life: Dive in, get it done, manage my time as well as I can, and try to keep all the balls in the air.” And do it without whining. She says, “I remind my- self that whiners don’t get things done. Whiners don’t prosper.” Union definitely gets things done. She began her college career with an eye on law school, but during her last quarter as sociology major at UCLA, she began an internship at a modeling agency. When the internship ended, the agency asked if she was interested in pursuing modeling or acting, and that was the start of her pro- digious career. She says that she “lucked out and came into the business at a time when there were a lot of teen shows that had leading actors that were black. There were a lot of opportunities for young black actors to cut their teeth and learn.” She was fortunate to have mentors along the way who wanted to see her succeed.


50 PROFESSIONAL WOMAN’S MULTICULTURAL MAGAZINE “Bad things


happen to people every day, it’s how you choose to deal with it.”


Union got her start on Saved by the


Bell: The New Class. Since then, she has appeared often on television, where she recently played Zoey Andata in the ABC series FlashForward. Her movies include Bring It On, Bad Boys II, Cadillac Re- cords, and Something the Lord Made. One of her favorite roles was as Evangeline “Eva” Dandridge in Deliver Us from Eva with LL Cool J.: “Two of my best friends in the world played my sisters. It’s what we call FUBU filmmaking, for us by us.


CELEBRATING 11 YEARS OF DIVERSITY


We had a black writer, a black director, black actors, and we got to tell our story from our perspective and be celebrated for that. And it felt great.” Currently, Union is on set filming Little in Common, a pilot for the Fox channel about three couples whose lives intersect through their children’s involvement in youth


sports. Her next movie, Good


Deeds, with Tyler Perry and Thandie Newton, will be out in February 2012, fol- lowed by Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, with Taraji P. Henson and Michael Ealy, in April 2012.


While away from the set, Union is a strong advocate for women’s rights. She openly shares that she was raped at 19 by an intruder while working at a shoe store. With her family and friends beside her, she sought counseling and assistance from every available agency and she came out strong. She believes that while “bad things happen to people every day, it’s how you choose to deal with it” that determines your path in life: “I learned very early into adulthood that I was a survivor and that I


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PHOTO: ELISABETH CAREN


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