In reflecting on how A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay has impacted how I see film and pursue a career as a teenager and young adult, I’ve thought about the films that influenced me the most when I was a kid. Seeing DuVernay has been a representation of what I wish I saw more of as I realized I want to pursue film, but I’ve realized that I’ve neglected a director whose work has had a vast impact on how I see film and storytelling since I was a kid–Gina Prince-Bythewood. Prince-Bythewood has made some groundbreaking independent films and yet when I see discussions about more female directors and more female directors of color, I don’t often see her mentioned.
Prince-Bythewood received critical acclaim for her directorial debut, Love & Basketball, in 2000. Starring Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps, Prince-Bythewood’s award-winning film follows Monica and Quincy in multiple stages in their lives as they navigate reaching their athletic dreams and the love between them. The film, also written by the director, just seems like an excellent love story, but as I continued to watch it as I got older, I realized more and more that it’s really about a young woman who’s trying to sort how she can achieve her dream and have the love of her life. It’s not in a way that the man she loves is making her choose. It’s Monica’s journey of believing that she can have both–love the game and love Quincy.