Gabrielle Union is an actress, author, social media influencer, and owns multiple businesses, but if you asked her what her dream was back when she was a teen, she would have told you that her heart’s desire was to be a successful and highly sought-after “video h-e.”
The “You Got Anything Stronger?” author was a guest on the Oct. 13 episode of former NBA player JJ Redick and producer Tommy Alter’s “The Old Man and the Three” podcast and recounted the story behind how her acting career almost didn’t happen because she was committed to making her name as a “video h-e.”
Union told the hosts that she was initially discovered while in college at the close of an internship in the kids division of a modeling agency that represented a few recognizable faces in their earlier years.
“I was a senior at UCLA, and I was paying for school myself. And I was just trying to get it done. Turns out school’s expensive when those bills are in your name and not your parents’,” the “L.A.’s Finest” star recalled, starting at 11:44. “I’m like, ‘Oh! I see why some people try to do this faster than others. Because this s**t is expensive!’ So I was trying to get four more units and somebody was like, ‘Yo, you could get an internship doing whatever for four units.’”
Taking heed to the advice she received, Union joked that she chose the internship because “models and actors are all idiots” so she figured “how hard can it be?!”
“So I got this internship in my last year of school, and I was like the office gofer, help, or whatever, and I worked in the kids department,” she explained. “So we were working with Hayden Panetierre and Jessica Biel and Shane West and all of those young child actors. I’d talk to their parents and managers and whatnot, and when my internship ended, they were like, ‘Would you ever consider being our clients and us representing you?’”
Union was hesitant to get into the acting game at first due to her “low self-esteem” and because she was still determined to achieve her video vixen dreams, and she even auditioned for Tupac’s “California Love” video but didn’t land the part.
“Mind you, I had such low self-esteem, I wanted to be a video hoe so bad. That’s all I wanted,” she said. “I didn’t wanna be in movies, I didn’t wanna be in commercials, I wanted to be the chosen video hoe. Well, that’s what we called them then, now they are ‘video vixens’, ‘IG models,’ yeah. But I wanted to be like a hot b***h, except I lacked all of the necessary accouterment like big boobs or an ass. It wasn’t really the desired look at the time. I was literally auditioning for the ‘California Love’ video with Tupac and 20 of his closest friends.”
“[While] trying to be in music videos I was like ‘Let me try my hand at acting. I have a photographic memory and memorizing ‘Saved By the Bell’ scripts, not that hard,” continued the Flawless Curls creator. “So I started booking things right away. … [My agents] made a fake résumé before they sent me out on an audition, and they were like ‘with each job you get, we’ll take a fake thing off.’ Pretty soon my résumé was real and I was just working non-stop, but I just wanted to be in the ‘California Love’ video.”
Union’s music video dreams weren’t realized until after she’d already started achieving fame as an actress, especially the success of “Bring It On.” She appeared in videos including Busta Rhymes’ “I Love My Chick,” LL Cool J’s “Paradise,” “15 Minutes” by Marc Nelson, Montell Jordan’s “You Must Have Been,” and “You Must Have Been” by Uncle Sam, among others.