Lathan received critical acclaim for her role in Love & Basketball. She earned an NAACP Image Award for Most Outstanding Actress In A Motion Picture in 2001 as well as nominations for Best Actress at the BET Awards and Independent Spirit Awards that same year.
This week’s #TBT movie is “Love & Basketball” which featured Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps in a romantic story intermingled with love for the sport of basketball. The characters the two portrayed were Quincy McCall and Monica Wright.
As many people adore the story and acting in the movie, Sanaa Lathan, speaks about the torture it was creating it. In an interview with CBS Los Angeles on Tuesday (June 4), Lathan described the experience as miserable.
I was miserable. I can laugh about it now. I got the job and I think Gina [Prince-Bythewood] finally got to the point where she had to hire somebody. It’s almost like she hired me because she couldn’t find somebody else. There wasn’t a lot of joy and there wasn’t a lot of trust in me.
It was her baby and it was her first time directing. It was a big deal for her and nobody knows me then really. She gets to the point where she makes this decision with me, but I felt like the default.Sanaa Lathan
“I had to go through so much to get the part and in all the basketball scenes, [they] surrounded me with real ballplayers,” said Lathan. “There was a lot of crying behind the scenes for me.”
Prince-Bythewood was really behind the idea of creating the final as the female version of the 1998 Spike Lee-directed film He Got Game which starred NBA Hall of Famer Ray Allen in its leading role.
Sanaa Lathan added that one challenge while filming was that she never played basketball before. “The hardest challenge was getting the job, which I think weirdly prepared me for Monica. I had a dance background, but I had never picked up a basketball,” she added.
“She wasn’t auditioning a lot of actresses. I would always get to the last step and then they would throw in another basketball player. They were giving the basketball player acting coaches. They would always do a basketball audition for me, which was just the worst. Finally, I demanded that if you want me to continue, you’ll have to get me a basketball coach. They gave me an assistant coach for the LA Sparks and she had me training five hours a day before I got the job.”