|Born||Gina Maria Prince
June 10, 1969
|Known for||Love & Basketball
The Secret Life of Bees
Beyond the Lights
|Home town||Pacific Grove, California|
|Spouse(s)||Reggie Rock Bythewood|
Prince-Bythewood was adopted by Bob Prince, a computer programmer, and Maria Prince, a nurse, when she was 3 weeks old. Her adoptive father is white and her adoptive mother is of El Salvadorian and German descent. She grew up in the white middle-class neighborhood of Pacific Grove, California. Her adoptive parents had four children before adopting her, so she has four siblings.
She said she sought out her birth mother recently, but it was not a positive experience. Her birth mother, who is caucasian, was a teenager when she gave her up for adoption, and because her family knew her child would be black, they wanted the young girl to have an abortion.
In 1987, Prince-Bythewood graduated from Pacific Grove High School. She attended UCLA's film school, where she also ran competitive track. At UCLA, she received the Gene Reynolds Scholarship for Directing and the Ray Stark Memorial Scholarship for Outstanding Undergraduates. She graduated in 1991.
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. The film was developed at the Sundance Institute's directing and writing lab.
She directed the feature film The Secret Life of Bees, which was 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.
In 2014, Prince-Bythewood directed Beyond the Lights, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw. 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 after her original production company, Sony, backed out after she insisted on casting Gugu Mbatha-Raw. The film premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
Beyond the Lights was originally called Blackbird, and is based on the Nina Simone song "Blackbird" from the record Nina Simone with Strings. Prince-Bythewood said: "That song really inspired the movie and inspired Noni's story." The main character's story was loosely inspired by the lives of Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland. Prince-Bythewood did research with the assistance of a number of singers, including Alicia Keys. 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."
The film was shot in 29 days and cost $7 million. 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. Other collaborators were choreographer Laurieann Gibson (Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj), hairstylist Kimberly Kimble (Beyonce), and record producer The-Dream.
Prince-Bythewood is married to film director and writer Reggie Rock Bythewood, who she met on the writing staff of A Different World. They have two sons, Cassius and Toussaint, and live in Southern California.
- 2014: Beyond the Lights – director, written by
- 2008: The Secret Life of Bees – director, screenplay
- 2003: Biker Boyz – producer
- 2000: Love & Basketball – director, written by
- 2007: Daddy's Girl (documentary) – producer
- 2000: Disappearing Acts – director
- 1995: CBS Schoolbreak Special: What About Your Friends – director, writer (as Gina Prince)
- 2005: Everybody Hates Chris episode "Everybody Hates the Laundromat" – writer
- 2005: Girlfriends episodes "Odds & Ends," "Fits & Starts" – director
- 2003: The Bernie Mac Show episode "Magic Jordan" – director
- 1998–1999: Felicity episode "Friends" – writer, consulting producer (7 episodes)
- 1995: Courthouse – writer, co-producer (as Gina Prince)
- 1994: Sweet Justice – writer (as Gina Prince)
- 1994: South Central episode "Dog" – writer, story editor (7 episodes), executive story editor (2 episodes) (as Gina Prince)
- 1992–1993: A Different World episodes "College Kid," "Lean on Me," "To Whit, With Love," "Don't Count Your Chickens Before They're Axed" – writer (as Gina Prince)
- 2007: Reflections – director, writer, co-producer, script development
- 1997: Bowl of Pork – director (as Gina Prince)
- 1997: Damn Whitey – director, written by (as Gina Prince)
- 1997: Progress – director (as Gina Prince)
- 1991: Stitches – writer (as Gina Prince)
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