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It also transcended race and unlike many of its contemporaries, was embraced by a broader audience.A smaller-budget film and a directorial debut for its writer, Gina Prince-Bythewood, “Love & Basketball” has endured as a classic and favorite among audiences, crossing beyond gender, race and sports.A woman that wasn’t delicate, but rather, could hold her own on the court and trash talk with the best.And yes, still fall in love with the boy next door.I just wanted to be creative about it and find who embodied this character. I heard that she had gotten one of the basketball players an acting coach.So I was like, “Then you need to do the same thing for me.” Prince-Bythewood: There was a ball player named Niesha Butler, who played at Georgia Tech, and also wanted to be an actress and she auditioned. Because it seemed like every time I would get to a certain level, I would think I would get the call and then two days later it’d be, “Oh, well they’re bringing in another basketball player.” Stern: There was a pretty strenuous, I would say, debate about who should play Monica.
Prince-Bythewood: Sanaa had improved, but not completely.
Once Prince-Bythewood was able to get a film studio on board, came the biggest challenge of the movie: casting.
What took place was a months-long casting process, perhaps unlike any other, that even included herself for a brief moment. The acting part was easy for me, but I had never played basketball, I had never dribbled, I had never done a layup.
On screen was the heartbreak and passion of sports and love -- with some strip basketball and a beautiful game of one-on-one thrown in for good measure.
Furthermore, for many women, we finally saw in Monica a character unlike any other.