Gabrielle Union had planned on attending law school, but began acting after the modeling agency she interned with as a college junior asked to represent her. She then won a series of small roles in television and film, including Love and Basketball, 10 Things I Hate About You (both 1999), and a part on the short-lived series City of Angels (2000). But her career really took off after her breakthrough portrayal of a sassy cheerleading captain from Compton in the late-summer surprise hit Bring It On (2000).
It's ironic that cheerleading would be the activity that helped launch Union's star. The Omaha, NE, native was born October 29, 1973, and spent much of her youth playing sports, from soccer to basketball to track. She attended high school in Nebraska, where she was an all-star point guard, and, after graduating, moved to Los Angeles to attend school at U.C.L.A.