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Much of her motivation for success came from her father, who continually pushed her to improve.
She recalled to Clarissa Cruz of Entertainment Weekly the type of lecture she often heard from her father: "You are the only black person in your whole class.
Union's mother made sure her daughters received an education in black culture and history, but Union still longed to have the companionship of other black girls.
She told Savoy magazine, in an article that appeared on the Gabrielle Union Fan Club Web site, "I wanted the camaraderie.
She also performed well in the classroom, making the dean's list at Foothill High in Pleasanton.
I've been to the point where I brought in my yearbook.