Gina Prince-Bythewood

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Gina Prince-Bythewood
Gina Prince-Bythewood by Gage Skidmore (cropped).jpg
Prince-Bythewood in 2018
Gina Maria Prince

(1969-06-10) June 10, 1969 (age 52)
  • Director
  • screenwriter
Known forLove & Basketball
The Secret Life of Bees
Beyond the Lights
(m. 1998)

Gina Maria Prince-Bythewood (born June 10, 1969)[1] is an American film director and screenwriter.[2] She is known for directing the films Love & Basketball (2000), Disappearing Acts (2000), The Secret Life of Bees (2008), Beyond the Lights (2014), and The Old Guard (2020).

Early life[edit]

Prince-Bythewood was born in Los Angeles, California,[1] and adopted by Bob Prince, a computer programmer, and Maria Prince, a nurse, when she was 3 weeks old.[3] Her adoptive father is white and her adoptive mother is of Salvadorian and German descent.[4][5] She grew up in the white middle-class neighborhood of Pacific Grove, California.[6] She has four siblings through her adoptive family.[3]

In 1987, Prince-Bythewood graduated from Pacific Grove High School.[3] She attended UCLA's film school, where she also ran competitive track.[7] At UCLA, she received the Gene Reynolds Scholarship for Directing and the Ray Stark Memorial Scholarship for Outstanding Undergraduates. She graduated in 1991.[8]

She sought out her birth mother around 2014, but it was "not a positive experience". Her birth mother, who is white, was a teenager when she gave her up for adoption, because her family knew her child would be multiracial and they wanted her to have an abortion.[9][10]



After five years working in TV as a writer on shows like A Different World and South Central, Prince-Bythewood wrote her first film, 2000's Love & Basketball.[11] The film was based on Prince-Bythewood’s personal life and her experiences growing up.[3] It was developed at the Sundance Institute's directing and writing lab.[6] The film won 12 awards and was nominated for three more. It won Best Film and Best Film Poster at the Black Reel Awards, and Best First Screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards. The film also grossed $27.7 million worldwide, making it the ninth most popular basketball film in the United States at that time.

She directed the feature film The Secret Life of Bees, adapted from the best-selling book by Sue Monk Kidd. It was released by Fox Searchlight in October 2008, and debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and Urbanworld Film Festival that same year.[12]

In 2014, Prince-Bythewood directed Beyond the Lights, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw.[13] Prince-Bythewood began work on the film in 2007, before work on 2008's The Secret Life of Bees was completed, but struggled to find financing when the original production company, Sony, backed out after she insisted on casting Mbatha-Raw.[14][15] The film premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.[16]

Beyond the Lights, originally called Blackbird, is based on the Nina Simone song "Blackbird" from the record Nina Simone with Strings.[17] Prince-Bythewood said: "That song really inspired the movie and inspired Noni's story."[15] The main character's story was loosely inspired by the lives of Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland.[18] Prince-Bythewood also stated that the movie is filled with intense personal issues with some resulting from her own adoption and her fraught encounter with her birth mother.[19] Prince-Bythewood did research with the assistance of a number of singers, including Alicia Keys.[20] The story was also inspired by an experience seeing Keys play the song "Diary." Elements of the film, especially the sexualization of female pop artists, act as a "critique of American media culture."[21]

The film was shot in 29 days and cost $7 million.[7] All of the key crew members on the film were women, including costume designer Sandra Hernandez, production designer Cecilia Montiel, cinematographer Tami Reiker, and editor Teri Shropshire.[22] Other collaborators were choreographer Laurieann Gibson (Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj), hairstylist Kimberly Kimble (Beyoncé), and record producer The-Dream.[23]

In 2016 Prince-Bythewood announced her next project would be an adaptation of Roxane Gay's novel An Untamed State. The project would be co-written by herself and Gay and would star Gugu Mbatha-Raw.[24]

In 2017 Prince-Bythewood, along with her husband Reggie Rock Bythewood, created the show Shots Fired for Fox.[25] Later that year, Prince-Bythewood was announced as the director for Silver & Black, a movie based on Marvel Comics characters Silver Sable and Black Cat.[26]

She wrote the screenplay for the movie adaptation of the novel Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. The film had an estimated $12,498,674 worldwide box office take by March 2017 after its release date (January 21, 2017). She directed the 2020 film adaptation of Greg Rucka's The Old Guard for Netflix, starring Charlize Theron and KiKi Layne.[27] She is the first biracial black woman to make a comic-book film.[28]

In 2020, she and her husband signed a deal with Touchstone Television to produce their output using the banner "Undisputed Cinema."[29]

Prince-Bythewood is currently working on directing TriStar Pictures epic The Woman King, a feature inspired by true events that took place in the Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful states of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries, The Woman King tells the story of Nanisca (Viola Davis), general of the all-female military unit known as the Amazons, and her daughter, Nawi, who together fought the French and neighboring tribes who violated their honor, enslaved their people and threatened to destroy everything they’ve lived for.[30] She is also in the process of writing the first episode of ABC's "Women of Movement".[31]

In March 2021, Prince-Bythewood a new role as Co-Chair of the Directors Guild of America African American Steering Committee (AASC). Working alongside Director Jeffrey W. Byrd, Prince-Bythewood will be addressing needs of the African American members of the Guild such as job creation and career advancement in this new position.[32] On August 26, It got announced that because of Prince-Bythewood commitments to other projects, she dropped out of directing The Old Guard 2 and will be replaced by Victoria Mahoney. Prince-Bythewood will remain as producer on the film.[33]

Personal life[edit]

In 1998 Prince-Bythewood married film director and writer Reggie Rock Bythewood, whom she met on the writing staff of A Different World.[19] The couple have two sons, Cassius and Toussaint, and live in Southern California.

Along with friends Mara Brock Akil, Sara Finney Johnson and Felicia D. Henderson, Prince-Bythewood endows The Four Sisters Scholarship.[34]



Year Title Director Writer
2000 Love & Basketball Yes Yes
2008 The Secret Life of Bees Yes Yes
2014 Beyond the Lights Yes Yes
2017 Before I Fall No Yes
2018 Nappily Ever After No Yes
2020 The Old Guard Yes No



TV movies[edit]

Year Title Director Writer Notes
1995 What About Your Friends Yes Yes Credited as Gina Prince
2000 Disappearing Acts Yes No


  • Daddy's Girl (2007) (Documentary)

TV series[edit]

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1992–1993 A Different World No Yes No 4 episodes;
Credited as Gina Prince
1994 South Central No Yes No Episode: "Dog";
Also story editor (7 episodes) and executive story editor (2 episodes) (as Gina Prince)
Sweet Justice No Yes No As Gina Prince
1995 Courthouse No Yes Yes
1998 Felicity No No Consulting Season 1
1998–1999 Felicity No Yes Consulting Episode: "Friends"
2003 The Bernie Mac Show Yes No No Episode: "Magic Jordan"
2005 Girlfriends Yes No No Episodes: "Odds & Ends" and "Fits & Starts"
Everybody Hates Chris Yes No No Episode: "Everybody Hates the Laundromat"
2017 Cloak & Dagger Yes No No Episode: "First Light"
Shots Fired Yes Yes Yes Also creator;
Episode "Hour One: Pilot" and "Hour Eight: Rock Bottom"


Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1991 Stitches No Yes No As Gina Prince
1997 Progress Yes No No
Damn Whitey Yes Yes No
Bowl of Pork Yes No No
2007 Reflections Yes Yes Yes Also script development



  1. ^ a b "Gina Maria Prince". United States Public Records 1970-2009. Retrieved November 25, 2014 – via FamilySearch.
  2. ^ Seymour, Gene (9 January 2009). "Black Directors Look Beyond Their Niche". The New York Times. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d Cabrera, Marc (October 17, 2008). "Buzzing about 'Bees': Pacific Grove native turned film director Gina Prince-Bythewood ushers new project to big screen". Monterey Herald. Monterey County, California. Archived from the original on July 19, 2020. Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  4. ^ Rich, Katey (October 14, 2008). "Interview: Secret Life Of Bees Director Gina Prince-Bythewood". Cinema Blend. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  5. ^ Houston, Shannon M. (21 November 2014). "Gina Prince-Bythewood On Beyond the Lights, and Dismantling the "Black Film" Genre". Paste Magazine. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  6. ^ a b Rochlin, Margy (Fall 2008). "Gina Prince-Bythewood: The Bee Season". Directors Guild of America (DGA). Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Ebiri, Bilge (16 November 2014). "Director Gina Prince-Bythewood on Beyond the Lights, Creating Great Chemistry, and Shooting Love Scenes". Vulture. New York. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  8. ^ "Gina Prince-Bythewood '91: UCLA Filmmaker of the Year". UCLA Alumni Association. May 22, 2015. Archived from the original on September 8, 202. Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  9. ^ Greene, David (November 14, 2014). "Director Gina Prince-Bythewood: It's Time To 'Obliterate The Term Black Film'" (Audio interview). Morning Edition. NPR. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  10. ^ Cadenas, Kerensa (November 14, 2014). "Love & Gina Prince-Bythewood". The Hairpin. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  11. ^ Rosen, Lisa (October 12, 2008). "Learning to adapt". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  12. ^ "Filmmaker Interview: Gina Prince-Bythewood". Film Independent. May 20, 2007. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  13. ^ Camilleri, Ricky (September 18, 2014). Nate Parker & 'Beyond The Lights' Director Live (Video interview). Huffington Post Live. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  14. ^ Kaufman, Amy (November 18, 2014). "'Beyond the Lights' director gave film's star a crash course in diva". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  15. ^ a b Morales, Wilson (September 20, 2014). "Exclusive: Gina Prince-Bythewood Talks 'Beyond The Lights'". BlackFilm. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  16. ^ "Special Presentations: Beyond the Lights". TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). Archived from the original on October 11, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  17. ^ Hope, Clover (November 14, 2014). "A Conversation with Beyond the Lights Director Gina Prince-Bythewood". Jezebel. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  18. ^ "Exclusive: Gina Prince-Bythewood Talks Writing & Directing 'Beyond The Lights'". The Source. November 19, 2014. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  19. ^ a b Wynn, Ron (November 13, 2014). "Writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood and star Nate Parker go Beyond the Lights in Nashville". Nashville Scene. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  20. ^ Ford, Rebecca (November 14, 2014). "'Beyond the Lights' Director on the "Maddening" Challenges of Getting the Movie Made". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  21. ^ Sachs, Ben (November 25, 2014). "Beyond the Lights is the most subversive American movie of the year". Chicago Reader. Retrieved November 25, 2014.
  22. ^ Tiggett, Jai (November 12, 2014). "Interview: Gina Prince-Bythewood on Empowering Girls & Women in Charge w/'Beyond The Lights'". Indiewire. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  23. ^ Noonan, Kevin (November 13, 2014). "'Beyond the Lights' Premiere: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Gina Prince-Bythewood on Creating a Pop Star". Variety. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  24. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw To Star, Gina Prince-Bythewood To Helm 'An Untamed State'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
  25. ^ Ryan, Maureen (2017-01-26). "TV Review: 'Shots Fired' on Fox". Variety. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  26. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (2017-05-25). "Gina Prince-Bythewood Set To Direct Spider-Man-Spun 'Silver & Black'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
  27. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (2019-01-21). "Charlize Theron & KiKi Layne Comic Book Action Feature 'The Old Guard' Lands At Netflix". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-01-28.
  28. ^ Buchanan, Kyle (2020-07-10). "Gina Prince-Bythewood Made a Summer Blockbuster. It's About Time". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
  29. ^ Porter, Rick. "'Old Guard' Director Gina Prince-Bythewood Inks First-Look Deal at Touchstone TV". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2020-08-14.
  30. ^ "Gina Prince-Bythewood to Direct Viola Davis in Historical Epic 'The Woman King'". The Hollywood Reporter. 2020-07-14. Retrieved 2021-03-17.
  31. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2020-08-28). "ABC Greenlights 'Women of the Movement' Limited Series From Marissa Jo Cerar, Jay-Z, Will Smith & Kapital; Gina Prince-Bythewood To Direct". Deadline. Retrieved 2021-03-17.
  32. ^ "Director Gina Prince-Bythewood joins African American Steering Committee as Co-Chair -". Retrieved 2021-03-17.
  33. ^ "'The Old Guard 2': Netflix And Skydance Tap Victoria Mahoney To Direct Next Installment As Charlize Theron And KiKi Layne Close Deals To Return". Deadline. Retrieved 2011-08-26.
  34. ^ Franco, Ariela (August 4, 2005). "'Four Sisters' Endow New UCLA Scholarship for Film and Television Students to Portray the African American Experience" (Press release). University of California, Los Angeles. Retrieved November 20, 2014.

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