There are many talented women directors working–if not often enough–in Hollywood today. Top of the pack is writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood, who broke out of UCLA winning prizes, writing and directing shorts and television (HBO’s “Disappearing Acts”), and delivering a well-reviewed Sundance hit for New Line Cinema, “Love & Basketball” (2000), starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan, which scored Prince-Bythewood an Indie Spirit award and a Humanitas prize and grossed $27.4 million domestic.
After producing 2003’s “Biker Boyz,” Prince-Bythewood followed up with Fox Searchlight’s 2008 literary crowdpleaser “The Secret Life of Bees,” starring Dakota Fanning and Queen Latifah, which played better for audiences ($37.7 million domestic) than critics.
It’s been another long stretch until “Beyond the Lights” (November 14, 2014), which played to raves in Toronto and Urbanworld, and earned a Gotham Best Actress nomination for Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who broke out earlier this year with Searchlight’s historic drama “Belle.” That had not happened when Prince-Bythewood abandoned her Sony studio deal after two years of development.
Sony was demanding that a star like Beyonce play the biracial singer who tries to break free from her overbearing stage mom. (The film has been described as a cross between “Gypsy” and “A Star in Born.”) The director insisted on casting then-unknown Mbatha-Raw, and went on to raise independent financing for the film.
Watch our flipcam interview below.