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She was better, but you couldn’t throw her out in a game and have her really hang.
It just came down to finally my husband said, “Is this a basketball movie, or is it a love story?
She had really good chemistry with Omar [Epps], but hadn’t acted before. So these two were on these parallel tracks, really in my mind it was between these two. Lathan: I had people in my life who were like, “Stop. There was a faction that really, really wanted somebody who was a great basketball player and then I believe myself and Mike De Luca argued pretty strenuously for somebody who was a great actor, who could get across the emotionality of the love story because we thought that’s where the heart of the movie resided.
Prince-Bythewood: Sanaa had improved, but not completely.
I am a romantic and I’m a driven woman and I was like, “Oh wow, I’ve never really seen anything like this on the screen.” It was worth fighting for.
Gina Prince-Bythewood, writer/director: It was just an idea that was in my head, it was a very personal story, a lot of it is autobiographical. I’m an athlete first and always have been, and it’s been so much a part of my life.
And I just didn’t feel that I ever saw that woman or girl reflected on screen. I remember I had a list on my fridge of all the studios and every day crossing another one off.
Finally after a year and a half, [my husband Reggie, who is also a writer, and I] felt it was good enough and went out with it. And I kept getting the feedback that it was “too soft,” which I just didn’t know what that meant, how is it soft?
But I think part of it was also it was a film with two people of color in the lead in a love story. At that time, obviously there was the success of “Boyz in the Hood” and “Menace II Society” and this was something definitely different.