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12-May-2015 15:00

Lathan also savored the lack of ageism inherent in the movie’s plot: “It’s just me onscreen, and I have two hot guys fighting over me and I’m not 20 years old,” she says.Ask someone when they fell in love with Lathan, and they’ll likely point to Gina Prince-Bythewood’s 2000 rom-dram Love & Basketball, which cast Lathan as Monica, a flinty but deeply vulnerable young ballplayer lusting after her smooth-talking, similarly hoop-dreaming best friend Quincy (Omar Epps).In interviews, Lathan is traditionally guarded — many of her answers pour forth politely and fully formed, like she’s given them hundreds of times, and she evades questions about her internal and personal lives.It’s only after we’ve developed a rapport, and the sound of bleating trucks has considerably weakened her resolve, that she allows occasional glimpses at what she calls her “soft heart [surrounded by] a steel exterior.” The most telling of these glimpses comes when I least expect it.Pal and frequent collaborator Prince-Bythewood laughs when describing what it’s like to go out with Lathan in public: “I’ve been with her when a guy came up to her and started crying.But she’s very gracious, and I know it’s gotta be tough, but she seems to handle it very well. She smiled and shook his hand and told him it was OK.

The film, she says, turns the crazy, scorned-ex-girlfriend trope on its head, and instead allows Ealy to slowly lose his shit onscreen while Lathan gets to play the sympathetic protagonist.

Anytime you’re out with her, people will be coming up.” Love & Basketball begat a series of charming, mid-aughts films told from the shamefully rare black female perspective, starring Lathan as various intelligent, independent women impervious to love until a Diggs or an Epps or a Wesley Snipes or a Simon Baker comes along and tears down her walls (sometimes literally, because they’re in the businesses of landscaping and construction, jobs that are very sexy in the movies but not when someone is performing them loudly outside your window).

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Though Lathan grew up adjacent to the entertainment biz, guest-starred on sitcoms like Moesha and Family Matters, and dutifully gazed into the eyes of Epps and Taye Diggs in late-’90s hits like The Wood and The Best Man, Love & Basketball was her cinematic cotillion — the bildungsroman upon which she built the sturdy base of her early career.

The film, she says, turns the crazy, scorned-ex-girlfriend trope on its head, and instead allows Ealy to slowly lose his shit onscreen while Lathan gets to play the sympathetic protagonist.Anytime you’re out with her, people will be coming up.” Love & Basketball begat a series of charming, mid-aughts films told from the shamefully rare black female perspective, starring Lathan as various intelligent, independent women impervious to love until a Diggs or an Epps or a Wesley Snipes or a Simon Baker comes along and tears down her walls (sometimes literally, because they’re in the businesses of landscaping and construction, jobs that are very sexy in the movies but not when someone is performing them loudly outside your window)..navbar-fixed-top{background-color:#fafafa;}.post-views-counter-tag:before{border-color:transparent #087a8c;transparenttransparent;}#secondary{border-top:solid 3px #087a8c;}a{color:#087a8c}.tweetable-icon{color:#087a8c}.navbar-toggle .icon-bar{background-color:#087a8c;}.nav-previous a{background-color:#087a8c;}.nav-next a{background-color:#087a8c;}.caret{border-top-color:#087a8c;border-bottom-color:#087a8c;}.opena:focus{border-bottom-color:#087a8c;}#bar{background-color:#087a8c;}.cat-title-wrap p.small{color:#087a8c;}Cta{background-color:#087a8c;}Cta{background-color:#087a8c;}.tagcloud a{color:#087a8c;}a:hover,a:focus{color:#087a8c;}.form-submit #submit{background-color:#087a8c;}.nav-tabsa:focus{color:#087a8c;}li.cat-item:before{background-color:#087a8c;}.from-editor-title{background-color:#087a8c;}.popular-summary h4 a:hover{color:#087a8c;}#secondary-nav li a{border-top:solid 3px #087a8c;}.nava:hover{color:#087a8c;}.rpwe-reply{border:1px solid #087a8c;background-color:#087a8c;}a.rpwe-reply:hover{color:#087a8c;}.us_wrapper a{color:#087a8c!important;}.secondary-nav-wrap{background-color:#545454;}.marquee-wrap{background-color:#087a8c;}. Though Lathan grew up adjacent to the entertainment biz, guest-starred on sitcoms like Moesha and Family Matters, and dutifully gazed into the eyes of Epps and Taye Diggs in late-’90s hits like The Wood and The Best Man, Love & Basketball was her cinematic cotillion — the bildungsroman upon which she built the sturdy base of her early career.It’s the film her fans rhapsodize about most, says Lathan, and, apparently, it still brings grown men to tears.