Gina Prince-Bythewood

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Gina Prince-Bythewood
Gina Prince-Bythewood
Prince-Bythewood at WonderCon 2018
Gina Maria Prince

(1969-06-10) June 10, 1969 (age 51)
United States
  • Director
  • screenwriter
Known forLove & Basketball
The Secret Life of Bees
Beyond the Lights
Home townPacific Grove, California, U.S.

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

Early life[edit]

Prince-Bythewood was 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 black 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.[12] 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.[13]

In 2014, Prince-Bythewood directed Beyond the Lights, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw.[14] 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.[15][16] The film premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.[17]

Beyond the Lights, originally called Blackbird, is based on the Nina Simone song "Blackbird" from the record Nina Simone with Strings.[18] Prince-Bythewood said: "That song really inspired the movie and inspired Noni's story."[16] The main character's story was loosely inspired by the lives of Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland.[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 adaptation of Greg Rucka's The Old Guard for Netflix, starring Charlize Theron and KiKi Layne.[27] She is the first black woman to make a comic-book film.[28]

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.[29] 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.[30]



Year Title Director Writer Producer
2000 Love & Basketball Yes Yes No
2003 Biker Boyz No No Yes
2008 The Secret Life of Bees Yes Yes No
2014 Beyond the Lights Yes Yes No
2017 Before I Fall No Yes No
2018 Nappily Ever After No Yes No
2020 The Old Guard Yes No No


TV movie[edit]

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1995 CBS Schoolbreak Special: What About Your Friends Yes Yes No Credited as Gina Prince
2000 Disappearing Acts Yes No No
2007 Daddy's Girl No No Yes 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 No Yes 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"

TV short[edit]

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. ^ "Gina Maria Prince – United States Public Records". FamilySearch. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  2. ^ Seymour, Gene (9 January 2009). "Black Directors Look Beyond Their Niche". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Cabrera, Marc (17 October 2008). "Buzzing about 'Bees': Pacific Grove native turned film director Gina Prince-Bythewood ushers new project to big screen". Monterey Herald. Archived from the original on 20 November 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  4. ^ Rich, Katey (14 October 2008). "Interview: Secret Life Of Bees Director Gina Prince-Bythewood". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 20 November 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 20 November 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 20 November 2014.
  8. ^ "Gina Prince-Bythewood '91". UCLA Alumni. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  9. ^ Greene, David (14 November 2014). "Director Gina Prince-Bythewood: It's Time To 'Obliterate The Term Black Film'" (Audio interview). Morning Edition. NPR. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  10. ^ Cadenas, Kerensa (14 November 2014). "Love & Gina Prince-Bythewood". The Hairpin. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  11. ^ Rosen, Lisa (12 October 2008). "Learning to adapt". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  12. ^ "Buzzing about 'Bees': Pacific Grove native turned film director Gina Prince-Bythewood ushers new project to big screen". Retrieved 2018-03-08.
  13. ^ "Filmmaker Interview: Gina Prince-Bythewood". Film Independent. 20 May 2007. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  14. ^ Camilleri, Ricky (18 September 2014). "Nate Parker & 'Beyond The Lights' Director LIVE" (Video interview). Huffington Post LIVE. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  15. ^ Kaufman, Amy (18 November 2014). "'Beyond the Lights' director gave film's star a crash course in diva". LA Times. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  16. ^ a b Morales, Wilson (30 September 2014). "Exclusive: Gina Prince-Bythewood Talks 'Beyond The Lights'". BlackFilm. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  17. ^ "Special Presentations: Beyond the Lights". TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  18. ^ Hope, Clover (14 November 2014). "A Conversation with Beyond the Lights Director Gina Prince-Bythewood". Jezebel. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  19. ^ "Exclusive: Gina Prince-Bythewood Talks Writing & Directing 'Beyond The Lights'". The Source. 19 November 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  20. ^ Ford, Rebecca (14 November 2014). "'Beyond the Lights' Director on the "Maddening" Challenges of Getting the Movie Made". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  21. ^ Sachs, Ben (25 November 2014). "Beyond the Lights is the most subversive American movie of the year". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  22. ^ Tiggett, Jai (12 November 2014). "Interview: Gina Prince-Bythewood on Empowering Girls & Women in Charge w/'Beyond The Lights' (Opens Fri)". Indiewire. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  23. ^ Noonan, Kevin (13 November 2014). "'Beyond the Lights' Premiere: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Gina Prince-Bythewood on Creating a Pop Star". Variety. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  24. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw To Star, Gina Prince-Bythewood To Helm 'An Untamed State'". Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  25. ^ Ryan, Maureen (2017-01-26). "TV Review: 'Shots Fired' on Fox". Variety. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  26. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (2017-05-25). "Gina Prince-Bythewood Set To Direct Spider-Man-Spun 'Silver & Black'". Deadline. 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. ^ Wynn, Ron (13 November 2014). "Writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood and star Nate Parker go Beyond the Lights in Nashville". Nashville Scene. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  30. ^ Franco, Ariela (4 August 2005). "'Four Sisters' Endow New UCLA Scholarship for Film and Television Students to Portray the African American Experience". UCLA Newsroom. Retrieved 20 November 2014.

External links[edit]