Beyond the Lights: Gina Prince-Bythewood Talks Love, Music, and Representation in Film

Fourteen years ago, Love & Basketball hit theaters, and even though so much time has passed the film still feels fresh. Maybe it's the great performances from everyone in the cast, especially Sanaa Lathan, or the fact that writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood has a special talent for depicting characters that are genuine and easy to relate to, no matter the situation.

Her latest film, Beyond the Lights, opens nationwide today. Just like Love & Basketball, it's a romance, but this one has a much deeper edge. It's also a stark look at the way fame and the music industry takes a toll on an up-and-coming performer named Noni.

"It's definitely a look at the underbelly of the music industry," writer-director Prince-Bythewood says, as we discuss the way her film critiques the music business. "I love hip-hop and R&B, but I just think it's going into a very angry, dangerous place right now, as well as a hyper-sexualized place that's becoming normal, and I don't think it's healthy. I think we as an audience, we only see the glamorous side of it; the videos, the instagram, and we think we want that. But there's so much under that that we don't realize."

See also: Review: Showbiz Drama Beyond the Lights Is Familiar but Cutting

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Juan Antonio Barquin is a Miami-based writer who programs the queer film series Flaming Classics and serves as co-editor of Dim the House Lights. Barquin aspires to be Bridget Jones.