It is award season in Hollywood and the Oscars are quickly approaching. With the #oscarsowhite controversy I thought it would be befitting to celebrate Black History Month by recognizing black women who have impacted the film industry. We got a bit of a late start but each week we will highlight actresses, directors, producers, or writers that have made strides for black women in film. Since Hollywood won’t give you the due credit, we will recognize you not only for your great work, but also for your #BlackGirlMagic.
Gina Prince-Bythewood is a successful writer and director known for films that depict African Americans in a different light. She is only the second African American woman to have her work produced by a major studio. Her first feature film, Love and Basketball, became the top grossing movie ever directed by an African American woman.
Raised in Los Angeles, Prince-Bythewood attended UCLA, where she realized her passion for directing. Her career began as a writer for the black woman’s perspective on shows like A Different World, South Central, Sweet Justice, and Courthouse. Once there she would prove that she could write for all of the characters. However, writing for television kept Prince-Bythewood feeling limited. She had a strong desire to direct movies, and soon realized instead of waiting for someone to give her a chance she would have to create her own opportunity.
Prince-Bythewood wrote and directed her first screenplay which she found difficult to get attention from a studio. “Everywhere we sent the script, it got turned down,” she said. Eventually Love and Basketball was released in 2000 and grossed over $22 million. She went on to write and produce The Secret Life of Bees (2008), and Beyond the Lights (2014).
“For me it’s just about putting people of color in every genre and making it become normal.”