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Gina Prince-Bythewood Almost Didn't Cast Sanaa Lathan In Love & Basketball

‘Love & Basketball’ Director Gina Prince-Bythewood who has teamed up to work with Sanaa Lathan in the new FOX series ‘Shots Fired,’ shares some juice about casting on ESSENCE 'Yes, Girl' podcast.

Sanaa Lathan and Gina Prince Tout
By Mariya Moseley · March 23, 2017

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Director Gina Prince-bythewood, the mastermind behind the classic 2000 romantic comedy Love & Basketball, has once again teamed up with actress Sanaa Lathan on an exciting project, FOX’s upcoming series, Shots Fired, which focuses on racially charged shootings in a small southern town.

Gina Prince-bythewood said that she was originally planning to cast a basketball player rather than an actress for Love & Basketball but “you can fake a jump shot… but you can’t fake a close-up.”  

“At the end of the day, it’s a love story set in the backdrop of basketball,” she continued.

The duo were special guests on the latest episode of ESSENCE’s ‘Yes, Girl’ podcast, during which Bythewood, who wrote and directed the hit 2000 drama Love & Basketball, is working with Lathan on Shots Fired, a new series focusing on racially charged shootings in a small southern town. 

While chatting with ESSENCE editors Cori Murray and Yolanda Sangweni, the pair shared what it has been like to work together again nearly two decades after Love & Basketball and spill some never before heard tea about the classic film. Did you know Lathan almost didn’t get the lead role as Monica? Yes, it’s true. The good friends share exactly how that happened, and you’re not going to believe why.

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“She set the bar for anyone that I’ve worked with since,” Prince-Bythewood said about seasoned actress Lathan. 

Bythewood’s co-creator and husband, Reggie Rock Bythewood,  teamed up with his wife for Shots Fired, which is what they’re calling a “10-hour film.”

The couple said that the show aims to provide a unique perspective on race and gun violence in America at a time when the country is struggling to grapple with both. The Bythewoods have collaborated in the past on projects like Beyond The Lights, The Secret Life of Bees and BET’s Gun Hill.

Shots Fired premieres on FOX on March 22 at 8p. ET. You can follow the series on social media by folllowing the tag #ShotsFired or following their tag on Twitter and Instagram.