AFI Movie Club: LOVE & BASKETBALL – American Film Institute
Love & Basketball Film Still - Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan



LOVE & BASKETBALL, starring Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps, is celebrating its 20th anniversary. In 2015, writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood served as an Artist-in-Residence for AFI’S Directing Workshop for Women. 

Watch LaToya Morgan (AFI Class of  2005) announce LOVE & BASKETBALL:

Movie Trivia about Today’s Film

-DID YOU KNOW that LOVE & BASKETBALL is the feature directorial debut of Gina Prince-Bythewood? The Sundance Institute helped get the film off the ground by inviting her to participate in its Directors Lab. After a staged reading of the script, there was a bidding war, which Spike Lee’s production company 40 Acres and a Mule ultimately won. 

-DID YOU KNOW Sanaa Lathan was the actress who read the part of Monica during the Sundance staged reading? The original actress got sick and Gina Prince-Bythewood asked her to fill in. 

-DID YOU KNOW it was important to the filmmakers that the female lead had believable basketball skills? Gina Prince-Bythewood auditioned more than 700 people for the part and it came down to Sanaa Lathan – who had no prior basketball experience – and Niesha Butler, a star player at Georgia Tech. She paired Lathan with a basketball coach for two months and Butler with an acting coach. Lathan ultimately won the role. 

-DID YOU KNOW when Gina Prince-Bythewood wrote Monica’s character, she was inspired by the basketball players she studied and idolized as a kid – Lisa Leslie, Tina Thompson, Dawn Staley and Sheryl Swoopes? 

-DID YOU KNOW that Olympic athlete Marion Jones auditioned for the role of Monica? 

-DID YOU KNOW that Kyla Pratt, who played Monica as a young girl, was known for her Nike WNBA commercials at the time of production? 

-DID YOU KNOW Dennis Haysbert was not interested in playing a character who cheats? Ultimately, he loved the father/son relationship between Quincy and Zeke so much that he accepted the role. 

-DID YOU KNOW that the filming locations ranged from the affluent Baldwin Hills neighborhood to Ladera Heights to Inglewood to depict an upper-middle-class narrative that wasn’t prevalent in many black films at the time? 

-DID YOU KNOW in Gina Prince-Bythewood’s original script, Monica and Quincy went to UCLA? The director was a Bruin, but she opted for USC when UCLA declined to be a filming location. 

-DID YOU KNOW that Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan previously starred together the year before in the film THE WOOD? 

-DID YOU KNOW the original script ended with the scene in which Monica and Quincy reconcile? Bythewood wrote the draft before the WNBA was founded in 1996. 

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-The film is structured after the four quarters of a basketball game. What effect does this have on the narrative? What other parallels are there between basketball and life? 

-Have you ever had to choose between love and your vocation? 

-How does LOVE & BASKETBALL reframe and redefine what it means to be female and more specifically a black female athlete? What are your favorite films about female athletes? 

-Actress Sanaa Lathan had dance training, but no prior basketball skills before shooting LOVE & BASKETBALL. Did you find her convincing as an athlete onscreen? 

-How is Monica and Quincy’s relationship tested over the course of the film? What preconceived notions about gender, race and sports do they have to overcome? 

-What did you think of Monica’s relationship with her mother, Camille (Alfre Woodard)? How does it evolve throughout the film? 

-What does the discovery of his father’s cheating mean to Quincy? How does it affect his relationship with Zeke and Monica? 

-How does the film portray nuanced depictions of black men, particularly when it comes to how supportive Quincy is of Monica and her career? How is the ending unconventional? 

-Why do you think LOVE & BASKETBALL has become a cult classic? What is its legacy 20 years onward? 

-How would you rate LOVE & BASKETBALL? 

Watch an exclusive video from the AFI Archive in which writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood talks about making the film.

New to AFI Movie Club? Want to learn more?

AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

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