Gabrielle Union (born October 29, 1972) is an American actress, starring as the title character "Mary Jane Paul" in the hit BET drama Being Mary Jane.
Gabrielle Union was born October 29, 1972 in Omaha, Nebraska to Sylvester and Theresa Union. The middle child in a family of four daughters, her family had been in the Omaha area for several generations prior to Gabrielle's own birth. Her African American family moved to the city of Pleasanton, California when Union was young. Unlike Omaha, Pleasanton had very few black residents at the time.
Union grew up with self-esteem issues, and grew up believing that blonde Caucasian women were the "ideal standard of beauty". Despite her intelligence, Union wanted to be known for her physical appearance as a young woman. Union attended the University of Nebraska before transferring to Cuesta College in Southern California. Despite this, she received a degree in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Unlike most actresses, Union started her acting career in minor roles in films. Some of her earliest roles were in teenage films such as Love & Basketball, and 10 Things I Hate About You. However, her breakthrough role came in 2000 when she was cast in the hit cheerleading movie Bring It On. This led to mainstream success, and allowed Union to have starring roles in films such as Bad Boys II, Deliver Us from Eva, Daddy's Little Girls, The Perfect Holiday, Good Deeds, and Think Like A Man. She also appeared on several television series such as Ugly Betty, Sister, Sister, and City of Angels. Being Mary Jane is the first show where Union was a main cast member and the lead role in a television series.
Union briefly dated basketball player Jason Kidd in high school and was briefly married American actor Chris Howard from 2001 to 2005. Since 2009, Union has been linked to American basketball player Dwayne Wade. The two recently married on August 30, 2014 and reside in Malibu, California.