Gina Prince-Bythewood

Before making a splash at 2000's Sundance Film Festival with her debut feature "Love & Basketball," writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood worked in television, helming and penning episodes of series including NBC's "A Different World" and The WB's "Felicity." This UCLA graduate began working on "A Different World" in 1992 and saw three of her scripts on the small screen that season. She served as story editor of 1994's "South Central" (Fox) and wrote one of the comedy/drama series' ten aired episodes. Prince-Bythewood returned to NBC, where she was the executive story editor of the NBC courtroom drama "Sweet Justice" (1994-95). Here she also proved her writing skills, penning a pair of compelling and memorable episodes. She stayed with the courtroom drama genre after the demise of "Sweet Justice," co-producing and writing episodes of the short-lived CBS series "Courthouse" (1995). In 1995, Prince-Bythewood made her TV directing debut with the "CBS Schoolbreak Special" presentation "What About Your Friends?." A drama about three middle-class African-American teenage girls and their post-high school plans, the program featured sympathetic, multidimensional characters and was emotionally credible. Prince-Bythewood's fresh, even-handed style also helped to set the tone for the college-set drama "Felicity." She served as a consulting producer on the series, and wrote one of the series' most honestly affecting and believable episodes, where adopted Julie (Amy Jo Johnson) finds for her birth mother. Prince-Bythewood's own upbringing (adopted into a predominately Caucasian family at six months old) may have informed her sensitive and realistic portrayal of Julie's search, much as her love of sports surely enriched her feature debut, the time-spanning, court-set romance "Love and Basketball." Written and directed by Prince-Bythewood, the uniquely appealing romance starred Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan as the athletes in love. Prince-Bythewood won notice and acclaim for her Spike Lee co-produced debut, the African-American woman standing out in a field still overwhelming dominated by white males. Prince-Bythewood followed up "Love & Basketball" with an HBO-produced adaptation of Terry McMillan's popular novel "Disappearing Acts" (2000). A passionate and touching Brooklyn, New York-set romance, "Disappearing Acts" chronicled the unlikely and often tumultuous relationship between an intelligent but uninspired construction worker (Wesley Snipes) and an ambitious music teacher seeking a singing career (Sanaa Lathan). McMillan's multidimensional characters would benefit from Prince-Bythewood's proven ability to bring remarkably convincing human portrayals to the screen.