Archive for the ‘Gabrielle Union’ Category

Love & Basketball (2000) is a Hollywood film, a love story starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan. It was written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (I will do a post on her). Lathan and Epps grow up next door to each other in the 1980s in Crenshaw, a black part of Los Angeles. They both love basketball – and, even when they do not want to admit it, each other. Basketball brings them together – and tears them apart.

This was the film that made Sanaa Lathan’s name and got Boris Kodjoe noticed (he takes her to the spring dance). Tyra Banks got a bit part but was already world-famous as a supermodel.

Gabrielle Union is in it too, then also pretty much unknown. She tried out for the lead but lost out to Lathan. Instead she got a part as one of Epps’s girlfriends. Union was to make her name that same year by starring in “Bring it On”, a cheerleader film.

Supporting characters: Debbi Morgan and Dennis Haysbert play Epps’s parents, Alfre Woodard plays Lathan’s mother.  In addition to the love story and the basetketball, the film shows Lathan’s relationship with her mother and Epps’s with his father. Debbi Morgan was great as a woman past her prime in a failing marriage.

The best scene except for the end was at the the spring dance: Lathan is dancing with Kodjoe and Epps is dancing with Union and they are playing Zapp and Roger’s “I Want to Be Your Man” (1987). Not only do I love that song but Lathan looked absolutely beautiful in that scene.

It is one of those movies I kept hearing about but never saw – till the other day. At the time it came out I had no reason to see it: I did not know Lathan then and my wife is no fan of Epps (too short?). I like Alfre Woodard but she is no big Hollywood star so I never know if she is in something until I am already watching it: “Hey, look, Alfre Woodard!”

It was a sweet story – though, truth be told, I would have probably watched it if it was just two hours of Sanaa Lathan breathing or waiting for a bus. If Halle Berry is bread, Sanaa Lathan is cake. With icing.

Lathan had played basketball only twice in her life before she got the part. They had to shoot the basketball scenes so you could not tell – partly by shooting the action from her point of view.

All the basketball players wear Nike shoes: because Nike had enough shoes from the 1980s for a period film. Prince-Bythewood, the director, tried to stay as in period as possible – though right in the opening scene set in 1981 she plays a song from 1983 (“Candy Girl” by New Edition). In the director’s commentary I found out that she knew that – she was just about the same age as the main characters in 1981 – but thought the song was too good to pass up.

– Abagond, 2010.

Family portrait from the film. Click to enlarge. From top to bottom: Harry Lennix, Sanaa Lathan, Regina Hall, Alfre Woodard.

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Gabrielle Union (1972- ) is an American film and television actress. She became known in 2000 after playing opposite Kirstin Dunst in the cheerleader film “Bring It On”. She was Will Smith’s love interest in “Bad Boys II” (2003) and LL Cool J’s in “Deliver Us From Eva” (2003) – a loose remake of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew”.

According to this blog she is the tenth most beautiful woman in the world. She often makes AskMen.com’s top 99 and similar lists in men’s magazines like Maxim and Stuff.

Apart from her more obvious attributes, she has perfect skin and a warm, beautiful smile that can light up a room.

She is a Catholic schoolgirl from Omaha, Nebraska. When she was eight her family moved to California. She was a cheerleader and loved sports. She wanted to go into law, but while she was at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) she worked at a model agency answering telephones. She was so beautiful people assumed she was a model! And so she became a model herself. She appeared in Teen magazine.

It was soon discovered that she had not only beauty but acting talent as well.

Television: Her first acting part was on the television show “Moesha”. She landed small parts on a number of other television shows. She was on “Night Stalker” (2005) and “City of Angels” (2000), but neither show lasted long. She was even a Klingon on “Deep Space Nine”.

She was also in “Football Wives”, which was not picked up by ABC for 2007. It is something she knows first-hand: she married Chris Howard of the Jaguars. They separated after four years.

Film: The film that got her noticed was “Bring It On”, where she played opposite Kirstin Dunst. She did not do much acting in that film: for the most part she was just being herself. In “Deliver Us From Eva” (2003) she showed that she could play a leading lady. She often plays a beautiful but headstrong woman who thinks she knows it all – but does not!

For Christmas 2007 she appeared in “The Perfect Holiday”. Her daughter asks Santa Claus to find Union a new husband.

She has lost leading parts to Beyonce (“Austin Powers in Goldmember”), Aaliyah and, understandably, to the seventh most beautiful woman in the world, Sanaa Lathan (“Love and Basketball”). Being rejected, she says, is the worst part of acting.

When she was 19 she worked at Payless ShoeSource. A man walked in one day and forced her into a back room. She thought she was going to die. She was raped instead. Later when she was famous she went to Washington to speak before Congress to tell them how rape counselling saved her life.

Her family name, Union, comes from the civil war days when the Union army freed the slaves. Many freed slaves changed their name to that of a president, like Washington, Jefferson and Jackson. Her family named themselves after the army that freed them.

Last updated: Sunday January 13th 2008.


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Daddy’s Little Girls

“Daddy’s Little Girls” (2007) is a Tyler Perry film starring Idris Elba and Gabrielle Union. Like Perry’s “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” most people seem to either love it or hate it. I saw it Monday night and I loved it.

Elba, trying to bring up his three daughters right in a rough part of Atlanta, loses them to their mother. She lives with a crime lord who rules the neighbourhood with fear and violence. Elba must save them, but it seems hopeless.

He works as a driver for Gabrielle Union. She practises law in one of the tall, glass office buildings of Atlanta. She has a good education but is stuck-up and only thinks of herself. She is not used to talking to the little people like Elba. Her friends say she is disagreeable because she needs a man. She says a good man is hard to find.

Thus act one. Perry can tell the rest of the story much better than I can.

It is Perry’s best film so far. Like “Diary” and his many stage plays it is a powerful story of good against evil in everyday life from a strong Christian point of view. Perry is not afraid or ashamed to mention God or show Christian religion in a good light.

For Perry Christian faith is not something dead or narrow or holier than thou or just for Sundays. It is the meat of life, the heartspring of all we do. Each one of us, if we are true, is locked in a battle of good against evil. Either we take the easy road and give in to evil or we stay on the hard but good road and stay true — to ourselves and to God. But to stay on that road we need faith in God.

Elba is trying to stay on that road.

Madea does not appear in this story. She is not there to save the day, to provide her wisdom, to give us a few laughs. But, in fact, the story holds together better without her.

Perry’s characters are too evil or too good to be believable on their own. But we go along with it because we have all found ourselves in an impossible place in life like Elba and we want to see how he gets out. It also makes the emotion in the story – the anger and pity and joy you feel while watching it – stronger.

Of course, even if it did not have a strong story, I would still have enjoyed watching it simply because it has the beautiful Gabrielle Union. I could look at her all day. She played her part well – you could tell that being stuck-up was just a front, that deep down she had a good heart.

The music is good too.

It has an all-black cast, but if you dismiss it as a “black film”, then you will be the poorer for it.

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My Birthday

Slept most of the day. At night we ordered pizza and watched a movie, The Honeymooners. I can never get tired of looking at Gabrielle Union. And in this movie she was a lot like my wife. The picture will give you the idea.

My sons gave me breakfast in bed and one gave me two toy cars and the other money for some songs. My wife gave me some cologne. Last year she did not even mention my birthday till two weeks later.

My mother gave me money for a book. I have yet to decide which one….

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