The ‘Secret’ of Director Gina Bythewood’s Success

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Gina Prince Bythewood is a rare breed in Hollywood: a black woman who calls the shots behind the camera. And in the case of her directorial debut, it was “shots” of two types that needed tending to. In 1995, after laboring as a TV writer on A Different World and Felicity—and frustrated by her lack of creative control—she penned Love and Basketball, which tells the story of hoops-shooting childhood sweethearts who share a passion for the sport. Five years later, when the film was released, it became the top-grossing film of all time by an African American woman. That success led to a job writing and directing The Secret Life of Bees—featuring the all-star cast of Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys and Dakota Fanning. “There were a lot of fights along the way but they were worth it,” Gina tells us of the film. “My biggest argument was that I can just never, ever sit in a theater looking up at my film and be disgusted or disappointed at something I’m watching. I have to believe in every frame.”