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Sanaa Lathan Says She Was “Miserable” While Filming “Love & Basketball”

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Sanaa Lathan Says She Was “Miserable” While Filming “Love & Basketball”

More than a decade later, Sanaa Lathan is sharing her experiences with filming “Love & Basketball.”


Back in 2000, Sanaa Lathan hit the big screen in a role that would change the game of basketball when it came to love. Lathan played Monica Wright in “Love & Basketball” but says that her time on set was “miserable.”

Lathan sat down with  CBS Los Angeles on Tuesday to share her thoughts on working with then first-time director Gina Prince-Bythewood.

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“I was miserable. I can laugh about it now,” Lathan said. “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.”

While the film was all about basketball, Lathan who made the roll look effortless says that the basketball scenes were the hardest for her to film given her background in dance.

“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.”

“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…”

“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.”

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While the roll seemed stressful for Lathan her hard work paid off as 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.

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