Sanaa Lathan Was Miserable Shooting “Love & Basketball” ‘There Was A Lot Of Crying Behind The Scenes For Me’

Sanaa Lathan

Sanaa Lathan Was ‘Miserable’ Shooting “Love & Basketball” ‘There Was A Lot Of Crying Behind The Scenes For Me’

Love & Basketball still makes our hearts smile 19 years after its release. But the leading lady of the movie, Sanaa Lathan, confessed filming it was a terrible experience for her.

She told CBS Local she’s convinced she was the last resort to star as basketball superstar Monica Wright.

“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.”

She said that while she and director Prince-Bythewood were able to bond, her experience still wasn’t a great one.

Sanaa Lathan, Gina Prince-Bythewood

“I had to go through so much to get the part and in all the basketball scenes, [they] surrounded me with real ballplayers. There was a lot of crying behind the scenes for me.”

She also said she and Prince-Bythewood have discussed her experience with Love & Basketball. The two also went on to work on other projects together like FOX’s Shots Fired.

She said if producers had their way, a real basketball player would have landed the role; especially since Spike Lee’s production company headed the project, and hoped to get a basketball star as it did with Ray Allen in He Got Game.

Spike Lee

Lathan added,

“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. Gina and the producers really wanted a basketball player that could act as opposed to an actress they could teach to play basketball. I was very lucky… I did a staged reading of the script when she was still working on the script. She couldn’t get my stage reading out of her head. 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.”

She said things changed when she “demanded” more help before she even secured the role.

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.”


The role ended up being a career-making one for Lathan. 

What are your thoughts on her experience? Let us know in the comments. 

Authored by: Char Patterson