1 of Gabrielle Union’s Earliest Roles Was a Criminal in ‘Sister, Sister’

Gabrielle Union might be a household name to anyone who has paid attention to movies and television over the last 25 years.

Still, there was a time when she was an unknown actress trying to make her name in Hollywood. Before 10 Things I Hate About You, Bring it On, Bad Boys 2, and other projects that helped lift her, she was a working actress. All of this changed after a guest spot on the hit show Sister, Sister, and it has allowed Union to pay it forward to the next generation. 

Union joins the sisterhood

Gabrielle Union
Gabrielle Union | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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Union was already a television veteran by the time that Sister, Sister called her name. She made her on-screen debut as an extra on the hit show Family Matters. From there, she appeared on such shows as Moesha, Malibu Shores, Saved By the Bell, the New Class, Good Behaviour, and several other series of the mid-to-late 1990s. 

Sister, Sister, was quickly her most significant break, however. Union appeared in one episode as Vanessa, a friend of the twins who turns out to be a shoplifter who teaches the audience the dangers of associating with such people. However, producers were so impressed that they brought back Union as Shawn, a friend of the twins who came with less baggage. Shawn appeared just four times, but not long after, Union’s career took off. 

Union takes off

Union started getting more prominent roles soon after. From 1999’s She’s All That and 10 Things to a role on the short-lived television series City of Angels, she showed she had the range and the drive to take on roles both big and small. Bring it On, and Love and Basketball only secured this. Now, Union might be at her professional peak. 

From voice work on the Disney series The Lion Guard to a role on the series LA’s Finest, Union is now headlining significant projects across the board. She’s now due to appear in a 2022 remake of Cheaper by the Dozen, where she’ll play the matriarch in a family of twelve. As great as her work on screen is, however, Union’s best work might be in the real world. 

Making a difference

Union credits everyone who helped her before she was a household name, giving her the type of humility and generosity needed to make a difference. She spoke about this on Instagram Live. 

“To whom much is given, much is required. Me and my husband both take that very seriously,” Union told the audience (per O Magazine). “But also, I have relied a lot on the kindness of strangers in my life. As a rape survivor, I needed a lot of things to be whole and healed and safe. I had to ask for a lot of help.”

This extends to her husband, retired NBA superstar Dwyane Wade. The pair has become one of the most generous couples in Hollywood. From their role in amplifying LGBTQ+ with the help of Wade’s 11-year-old daughter, Zaya, to their massive role in the Black Lives Matter Movement and all the charities that go with it. According to Union, these are just as much a part of their lives as basketball or acting. 

“My husband grew up dealing with the addiction of his parents and dealing with food scarcity, so we’re not really far removed from needing a lot of help. We just want to give back what was given to us. What was poured into us, we want to pour back into other people,” she told the audience (per O Magazine).

Union has come a long way since her days as a guest on Sister, Sister. Not only is she one of the most recognizable names and faces in Hollywood, but her work on camera has shown why Hollywood is lucky to have an ambassador for so much good. While it’s easy to look at Union and her work on-camera, her work off-camera wouldn’t be possible without those early roles like Sister and Sister.