Gabrielle Union posted a picture of her 10-month-old daughter Kaavia on Instagram wearing a baby version of her costume from the hit movie Bring It On. Bring It On was a breakthrough movie in Union’s career. 19 years after the film’s release, the baby cheerleader pic got us thinking about Union’s big movies.
Union has been acting since 1993 when she was doing guest spots on episodes of Family Matters and Moesha. She’s been a movie star for the last 20 years, so these are the key Gabrielle Union movies that made her famous.
Gabrielle Union brought it on in ‘Bring It On’
Gabrielle Union had starred in teen movies like She’s All That and 10 Things I Hate About You but Bring It On put her front and center. She played Isis, the leader of a black cheer squad who discovers that Torrance (Kirsten Dunst)’s squad has been winning competitions with their moves.
Torrance didn’t know the moves were stolen. Her predecessor Big Red (Lindsay Sloane) had stolen them thinking no one would ever see the original choreography. It took new student Missy (Eliza Dushku) to make the connection.
Gabrielle Union played a romantic villain in ‘Deliver Us From Eva’
Gabrielle Union got to star in a romantic comedy, albeit as the villain/love interest. She plays the title character, Eva, in Deliver Us From Eva, a woman who’s so critical of her sister’s relationships they feel she’s sabotaging them. So the sisters hire Ray (L.L. Cool J) to romance Eva in a sort of Taming of the Shrew riff.
Of course, this is a Hollywood romantic comedy so Ray and Eva actually fall in love, which challenges both Eva’s previous view of men and Ray’s noncommittal reputation. It was a sweet rom-com that showed Union could carry a movie.
She became an action heroine in ‘Bad Boys II’
The same year as Deliver Us From Eva, Union starred in a couple of action movies. Cradle 2 the Grave teamed her up with Jet Li and DMX but Bad Boys II got a lot more eyeballs on Gabrielle Union as an action heroine. She played Marcus (Martin Lawrence)’s sister who had a romance with Mike (Will Smith), much to Marcus’s chagrin.
Bad Boys II was a huge blockbuster that became inspiration in the cult cop movie spoof Hot Fuzz. Now, Union reprises the role of Syd in the TV series spinoff L.A.’s Finest.
Gabrielle Union did drama in ‘Daddy’s Little Girls’
Gabrielle Union hooked up with Tyler Perry on his third movie, his first non Madea movie. Perry was just establishing his powerhouse film company when Union got in with him to show her dramatic chops. Idris Elba also starred in Daddy’s Little Girls. She reteamed with Perry again on Good Deeds.
Another comedy smash in ‘Think Like a Man’
Think Like a Man may have done the most for Kevin Hart’s career, and increased sales of Steve Harvey’s book on which it was based. However, the ensemble comedy gave a large African-American ensemble cast a chance to shine in a number one movie hit. It even spawned a sequel. Union returned for Think Like a Man Too.
Gabrielle Union was in the heart of controversy in ‘Birth of a Nation’
Nate Parker’s directorial debut The Birth of a Nation was a Sundance Film Festival smash. Parker played Nat Turner in the dramatization of Turner’s slave revolt. However, between Sundance and the film’s release, reports of rape charges filed against Parker in college surfaced. Making matters worse, the alleged victim in that case committed suicide years prior.
An outspoken advocate for sexual assault survivors, Gabrielle Union found herself addresing the issue while promoting The Birth of a Nation. Union encouraged people to continue the discussion, as difficult as it was, including for herself, a survivor.
Gabrielle Union got her first lead movie role in ‘Breaking In’
It’s shocking it took more than 20 years for Gabrielle Union to headline a movie herself, and speaks to the need for more diversity in films. In Breaking In, Union played a mother battling burglars in her remote home. The thieves manage to barricade themselves in her house with her children, so Union’s character has to break into her house to save them.
Union proved herself up to the challenge. Breaking In opened atih $17.6 million against Avengers: Infinity War. Breaking In ended up making $51 million worldwide so hopefully won’t be the last Gabrielle Union vehicle.
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