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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 speaking with blackfilm.com, Lathan talks about interracial romance, working with the cast, a first time filmmaker, and if she will come back to the sequel to "AVP". SL: The thing I love about this movie is that if you think about it, there hasn't been interracial relationship movies that deal with this from a black woman's perspective. The other thing about it is that it's usually the couple against the world; or the couple against the family. He's handsome, he's educated, he has nice teeth, and he makes money. When she experienced him, she realized that she didn't feel anything, and that was crushing. In this case, it's her coming up against her own prejudices. You have an idea of what you want and what you think will make you happy and then you come up against it and it doesn't, then what? I was a little nervous at first cause you never know with first time directors. It’s almost like she hired me because she couldn’t find somebody else.There wasn’t a lot of joy and there wasn’t a lot of trust in me.One of the most challenges aspects of the shoot was learning how to play basketball.“I had to go through so much to get the part and in all the basketball scenes, [they] surrounded me with real ballplayers,” Lathan revealed.“There was a lot of crying behind the scenes for me.”Spike Lee’s 40 Acres and a Mule company financed the film, and producers wanted a professional basketball player to play the lead.“The hardest challenge was getting the job, which I think weirdly prepared me for Monica,” she added.

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).“She was dancing with me in her belly; she’d put a blanket underneath the piano in the rehearsal room and drop me on that blanket.I definitely came into the world already [part of] the world of arts.” " 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.Near the end of our interview, Lathan is gushing about 1940s Hollywood, which produced dozens of female-driven vehicles, including the classics starring the likes of Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and Katharine Hepburn. “I’d love to see women carrying films like that, being vulnerable and strong.” It seems unlikely, but this is what attracted Lathan — after suffering through a mid-career string of wife and girlfriend roles — to The Perfect Guy, whose titular joke is that said guy, played by Michael Ealy, is not only imperfect but is also a murderous stalker.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.

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It’s the film her fans rhapsodize about most, says Lathan, and, apparently, it still brings grown men to tears.

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