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Gina Prince-Bythewood

Gina Prince-Bythewood

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Also Known As: Gina Prince, Dierdre O'Connell Died:
Born: June 10, 1969 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: United States Profession: director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Before making a splash at 2000's Sundance Film Festival with her debut feature "Love & Basketball", writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood worked in television, helming and penning episodes of series including NBC's "A Different World" and The WB's "Felicity". This UCLA graduate began working on "A Different World" in 1992 and saw three of her scripts on the small screen that season. She served as story editor of 1994's "South Central" (Fox) and wrote one of the comedy/drama series' ten aired episodes. Prince-Bythewood returned to NBC, where she was the executive story editor of the NBC courtroom drama "Sweet Justice" (1994-95). Here she also proved her writing skills, penning a pair of compelling and memorable episodes. She stayed with the courtroom drama genre after the demise of "Sweet Justice", co-producing and writing episodes of the short-lived CBS series "Courthouse" (1995). In 1995, Prince-Bythewood made her TV directing debut with the "CBS Schoolbreak Special" presentation "What About Your Friends?". A drama about three middle-class African-American teenage girls and their post-high school plans, the program featured sympathetic, multidimensional characters and was emotionally credible,...

Before making a splash at 2000's Sundance Film Festival with her debut feature "Love & Basketball", writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood worked in television, helming and penning episodes of series including NBC's "A Different World" and The WB's "Felicity". This UCLA graduate began working on "A Different World" in 1992 and saw three of her scripts on the small screen that season. She served as story editor of 1994's "South Central" (Fox) and wrote one of the comedy/drama series' ten aired episodes. Prince-Bythewood returned to NBC, where she was the executive story editor of the NBC courtroom drama "Sweet Justice" (1994-95). Here she also proved her writing skills, penning a pair of compelling and memorable episodes. She stayed with the courtroom drama genre after the demise of "Sweet Justice", co-producing and writing episodes of the short-lived CBS series "Courthouse" (1995). In 1995, Prince-Bythewood made her TV directing debut with the "CBS Schoolbreak Special" presentation "What About Your Friends?". A drama about three middle-class African-American teenage girls and their post-high school plans, the program featured sympathetic, multidimensional characters and was emotionally credible, faring better than the average melodramatic teen-aimed special.

Prince-Bythewood's fresh, even-handed style helped the college-set drama "Felicity" from slipping into self-parody in its 1998-1999 season. She served as a consulting producer on the series, and wrote one of the series' most honestly affecting and believable episodes, where adopted Julie (Amy Jo Johnson) finds for her birth mother and the meddlesome titular co-ed (Keri Russell) struggles to mind her own business. Prince-Bythewood's own upbringing (adopted into a predominately Caucasian family at six months old) may have informed her sensitive and realistic portrayal of Julie's search, much as her love of sports surely enriched her feature debut, the time-spanning, court-set romance "Love and Basketball". Written and directed by Prince-Bythewood, the uniquely appealing romance starred Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan as the athletes in love. Prince-Bythewood won notice and acclaim for her Spike Lee co-produced debut, the African-American woman standing out in a field still overwhelming dominated by white males. While making important strides within the industry, Prince-Bythewood also proved that her talent was raceless and genderless, penning convincingly flawed but charming characters and directing with an intuitive flair and attention to detail that all filmmakers strive for. Not only were main characters Q (Epps) and Monica (Lathan) fully realized, but supporting players including Monica's old fashioned mother (Alfre Woodard) and Q's womanizing father (Dennis Haysbert) were similarly multi-layered and complex. Through her skillful directing, Prince-Bythewood's audience was as intoxicated and involved in the ups and downs of the relationship as the primary players were.

Interested in making movies of all genres and types but mindful of the fact that her status as one of all too few black female filmmakers brought with it certain opportunities and responsibilities, Prince-Bythewood followed up "Love & Basketball" with an HBO-produced adaptation of Terry McMillan's popular novel "Disappearing Acts" (2000). A passionate and touching Brooklyn, New York-set romance, "Disappearing Acts" chronicled the unlikely and often tumultuous relationship between an intelligent but uninspired construction worker (Wesley Snipes) and an ambitious music teacher seeking a singing career (Sanaa Lathan). McMillan's multidimensional characters would benefit from Prince-Bythewood's proven ability to bring remarkably convincing human portrayals to the screen.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Love & Basketball (2000) Director
3.
  Disappearing Acts (2000) Director
4.

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1992:
Was a writer for the NBC sitcom "A Different World"
1994:
Worked on the FOX drama "South Central" as a writer and story editor
1994:
Was writer and executive story editor for the NBC legal drama "Sweet Justice"
1995:
Directed the "What About Your Friends?" installment of the CBS Schoolbreak Special
1995:
Wrote and co-produced episodes of the short-lived CBS series "Courthouse"
1998:
Directed the short film "Bowl of Pork," starring David Chapelle
1999:
Was a writer and co-producer for the first season of the WB series "Felicity"
2000:
Made feature debut with "Love & Basketball" co-starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan
2000:
Directed the HBO original film "Disappearing Acts" with Lathan; based on Terry McMillan's popular novel
2003:
Produced the film "Biker Boyz"
2005:
Directed epidsodes of the UPN series "Girlfriends"
2008:
Directed the film adaption of Sue Monk Kidd's bestselling novel "The Secret Life of Bees"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of California, Los Angeles: Los Angeles , California - 1991

Notes

Gina Prince-Bythewood on "Love & Basketball": "When I first started showing the script around I was told it was soft. I guess they wanted more images of 'the Black Experience', like people chasing each other in the 'hood with knives." --quoted in Flaunt, April 2000.

"Am I now someone who speaks for the black experience? There are some filmmakers who say 'Don't call me a black filmmaker,' because they don't want to be niched by the world. I understand that. I have many more stories to tell that may go outside that point of view. But for me at this point in time, the truth is, if we don't make the films, who else is going to?" --Prince-Bythewood to Flaunt, April 2000.

"I realized nobody was going to hand me a screenplay to direct, so I knew I had to do this myself. A person's first film represents so much about them, and what I wanted to see --what was missing and what I wanted to write-- was a black love story.

And I did it." --Prince-Bythewood on "Love & "Basketball", quoted in New York's Daily News, April 16, 2000.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Reggie Rock Bythewood. Screenwriter, actor, director. Worked with Prince-Bythewood on "A Different World".

Family close complete family listing

son:
Cassius Mandela Bythewood. Born on March 1, 2001.

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