She's one of those actresses who keeps popping up: First on Saved by the Bell in 1989. Then as "the black girlfriend" on an episode of Friends (in 1994). Film roles in Bring It On, Cradle 2 the Grave, and Bad Boys II raised her profile -- as did landing on Maxim and Stuff magazines' "Sexiest Women" lists. Lately, she's been filming the second season of The Night Stalker TV series and playing a role in an upcoming Gwyneth Paltrow movie. This Saturday, Gabrielle Union steps out of the little corner of your brain that stores birthdays, song lyrics, and the international beer pong rules and goes front and center on the red carpet to host a Hurricane Katrina Benefit Concert at the Miami Arena (701 Arena Blvd., Miami).
The R&B/hip-hop foursome 112 headlines the show. The group hit the radio running in 1996 when it signed to Diddy's (a.k.a. Puffy's) Bad Boy label and released the tunes "Peaches & Cream," "Na Na Na," and "Only You." This spring, it jumped to Jay-Z's Def Jam empire and recorded a fifth album, titled Pleasure and Pain. The concert also features Jagged Edge, Charlie Wilson, Angie Stone, and Mint Condition; it'll be co-hosted by Prince Markie D of "The Beat," 103.5-FM. Call 954-839-0437, or visit www.954hiphop.com. -- Deirdra Funcheon
Warrior poets step to the mic
"A snail is just a slug/with a fancy car/A peacock is just a rooster/in a good suit." And Anthony F. Pepe, author of those lines (from a 2002 ditty called "Point of View"), is just a local "warrior poet" with a curious take on the world. Thursday, Pepe and his writing partner, D. Tori Morgenstein, hook up to host a benefit for Kids in Distress. The rhyme-spitting duo have a particular vengeance against domestic violence and child abuse; they even made it the subject of their book, called "...that defines the light." After the poets' hour of word-slinging at Tabu Night Life (2674 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale), South African singer-songwriter Karma takes the stage; Lauren Pascarella's artwork sets the scene all night. Admission is $5. If you miss the poets on Thursday, catch them Monday at the Hideout Bar & Grill (7200 N. Dixie Hwy., Boca Raton) or Tuesday at Dada (52 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach). Call 954-566-6331, or visit www.thatdefinesthelight.com. -- Deirdra Funcheon
Close Your Eyes!
Goodman waves his wand
BY RIKI ALTMAN
If you've ever been hypnotized -- to quit smoking or forget that horrible prom date from years ago -- chances are you'd make a good volunteer for Gary Goodman as he takes the stage at the Olympic Heights High School Theater (20101 Lyons Rd., Boca Raton). The illusionist/hypnotist has plenty of tricks up his sleeve, from sleight-of-hand stunts to vanishing acts and a levitation feat involving Miss Teen Boca Raton. There's even a juggler. And, of course, plenty of volunteers embarrassing themselves in front of their friends. "An Evening of Grand Illusion and Hypnosis" magically begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $25 to $50; proceeds go to charities and Rotary Club programs. Call 877-730-6009, or visit www.ticketweb.com. -- Riki Altman
Dancin' for Dollars
Maybe the $500 cash prize at last month's Dance Arama wasn't enough to get your butt on the dance floor. So how's $1,000 sound? That's the cash prize this Friday at Top Hop Gardens (4340 N. State Rd. 7, Lauderdale Lakes). Of course, anyone who digs Supa Twitch, Mega Flex, and Queen Nicky doesn't need to be bribed. Doors open at 11 p.m. Call 954-647-2793. -- Jason Budjinski