Sanaa Lathan is an accomplished actress and movie star with almost 30 years in the game. Known for her romantic films in the ’90s and early ’00s, she is currently back on our screens as part of the ensemble cast of Best Man: The Final Chapters. With so many classic movies to her name, it is hard to pick one that truly stands out. However, Lathan has her personal standouts for her own reasons and has opened up about how one of her more iconic films actually traumatized her.
Sanaa Lathan starred opposite Omar Epps in the 2000 American romantic sports drama Love & Basketball. The film was directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood in her directorial debut. She is famous for films like The Secret Life of Bees and The Woman King. Prince-Bythewood has the pleasure of leading an all-star cast which also includes Alfre Woodard, Boris Kodjoe, Gabrielle Union, Regina Hall, and Tyra Banks. The film follows Lathan and Epps’s characters as they fall in love over the course of their lives while pursuing careers in Basketball. It deals heavily with themes of gender roles, black love, and sports culture.
The movie was accompanied by a soundtrack that was well-received by fans and featured songs from Angie Stone, Zapp, and Steve “Silk” Hurley. Despite a limited release to only 1200 theaters, Love & Basketball grossed $3,176,000 on its first day. It would go on to grossed $27,459,615 in the United States, which is the ninth all-time for a basketball film and the thirty-seventh all-time for a sports drama. The film grossed $27,728,118 worldwide; $268,503 (1%) was grossed outside of the United States.
The film took home several awards, including Best Actress at the 2001 and six awards at the Black Reel Awards, including Best Film and Best Soundtrack. It has left a lasting legacy on fans who continue to revisit it over the years, including several people recreating its iconic promotional material as Halloween costumes or wedding invitations.
Despite all its success, Sanaa Lathan admitted during a Sway interview that it was not her favorite film. While introducing her, one of Sway’s co-hosts mentioned a handful of her films and failed to mention L&B. She actually thanked him for omitting it and began to explain her complicated history with the movie. “I love that you forgot Love & Basketball. It’s so funny because i’ve been around for so long, [but] people call me Love & Basketball on the street.”
Lathan says she is so grateful for the film but reveals that she does not even follow Basketball. “Love & Basketball kind of ruined it for me. I had to be immersed in that world.” Looking back, she said the shoot was traumatic because she was an unknown actress who did not follow Basketball surrounded by a bunch of players and experts judging her skills and knowledge. Lathan said she had to work hard to look and sound and act like she knew the sport.
“I may be a little bit [scarred],” she joked with Sway. She admits that she wants to get back into Basketball so she can carry future conversations with fans.