Of all the joys that came from my recent viewing of The Woman King in theaters, my favorite was simply watching another one of Gina Prince Bythewood’s visions brought to life. Since 2000 when she came on to the scene with her sports romantic drama Love and Basketball, Bythewood has built a diverse filmography that centers Black women.
xoNecole is here to take you through Bythewood’s films over the years and how the filmmaker continues to hold it down for Black women on screen.
Love & Basketball (2000)
In her cult classic feature film directorial debut Love and Basketball, Bythewood gave the world a love story about childhood sweethearts Monica (Sanaa Lathan in her breakout role) and Quincy (Omar Epps) who bond over their love for basketball and each other. Bythewood said this of the film in a 2020 interview with The Hollywood Reporter:
The kernel of the idea was that I wanted to make a Black When Harry Met Sally. I love that film, and there was a dearth or nonexistence of love stories made with Black characters. It was something that I wanted to see reflected; I wanted to see myself reflected. I also wanted to tell a story that put into the world that women could have both — love and career.
The Secret Life of Bees (2008)
Nearly a decade after her directorial debut, Bythewood was back with The Secret Life of Bees, an adaptation of the book of the same name. Starring Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson and Dakota Fanning as Lily, the film tells a familial love story about the sweetness of chosen family and rebuilding your life after trauma. In talking about why she decided to direct the film she said this to The Los Angeles Times:
The main protagonist] Lily’s journey was so similar to something I went through. I was adopted by a Salvadoran mother and a white father, and growing up I had a lot of issues about who was my real mother, why was I given up. [In the book, when Lily says she’s unlovable,] That was the moment where I said, ‘I have to make this film,’ because I said those exact words myself.
Beyond the Lights (2014)
In Beyond the Lights, Bythewood brings to the screen Noni, a biracial singer portrayed by Gugu Mbatha Raw, as she tries to break free from the pressure of fame and an overbearing stage mom Macy. It isn’t until crossing paths with Officer Kaz who saves her during a mental health crisis that she sees a path to a world beyond the glitz and glitter of the music industry. It’s loosely based on Bythewood’s life after reconnecting with her biological mother didn’t yield the results she was hoping. Bythewood said of her biological mom in an interview with Collider:
If this woman had ended up raising me, I would have grown up in a home that didn’t have unconditional love and how damaging that could be because it should be the right of every child. I wanted to deal with that [in Beyond the Lights], and that was really the catalyst for the Macy-Noni relationship of a girl who’s growing up and a woman who’s trying to find her own self-worth in her daughter and how damaging that can be, but also using her love as a carrot, at times, as well, to push her daughter into the direction that she wants.
The Old Guard (2020)
The Old Guard starring Kiki Layne and Charlize Theron was the beginning of Bythewood expanding her talents from quieter dramas, to the world of action. Old Guard centers on a group of immortal soldiers who fight to protect themselves when they realize someone is threatening to expose their secrets. In an interview with Thrillist she said:
I had been actively pushing my career in this direction because I love action films and I wanted the opportunity to do one myself," she tells me. "Hollywood did not seem as eager to have that happen for women until Patty Jenkins, and all praise to Patty who just killed it with Wonder Woman and absolutely cracked the door open.
The Woman King (2022)
The Woman King feels like a culmination of all the things Bythewood has been building over her career: The maternal conflict of Beyond the Lights; The love of a found family of The Secret Life of Bees; The romance from Love & Basketball; The action and fight scenes of the Old Guard. All this mixed together brings to life the Agojie, the women warriors of the Dahomey tribe who reckon with their role as slavers and harness their collective power to free the oppressed tribes from their captors. In a Rolling Stone interview, star and producer of the film Viola Davis recounted that Bythewood gave an impassioned pitch where the director ended up breaking down in tears because of her strong connection to the material. “Everyone in the room knew she was the one to direct The Woman King, because she was going to protect and honor it the same way she would her own story,” Davis said.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Watching Angela “Blac Chyna” White’s transformation in real-time has truly been a sight to see. It wasn’t that long ago that she announced that she was reversing her cosmetic surgeries in an effort to go back to who she was before the world came to know her as Blac Chyna. In previous interviews, she stated that she was dissolving her facial and lip fillers, removing her breast implants, and getting a butt reduction, as well as removing the dimple piercings that enhanced her fame and controversial tattoos.
In a recent Tamron Hall interview, the mother of two said that she has “fully recovered” from the procedures. She is also celebrating one year of sobriety and opened up about being worried about how her new journey would be received by others.
“I’ve been in the entertainment industry for so long, right, and of course, like, you know, coming out, I’m like young, I’m gonna do wild things as we all have,” she said.
“...I feel like by me being vocal and showing everybody you can change your life and things can get better, like through myself, that right there is an accomplishment, and that’s a part of freedom, too.”
But as she started on her journey, many people have shown her grace, which is something she’s grateful for. “And then the fact that people have been showing me grace, it’s like amazing,” she said. “And I feel like when I did it, I just did it. It was more so like spiritual thing and I feel like people see that, and I’ve always been like my authentic self, so what you see is kinda what you get with me, and that’s just kinda what it is.”
Chyna, who recently received an honorary doctorate from Sacramento Theology Seminary and Bible College, has also repaired her relationship with her mom, Tokyo Toni. The social media celebrity surprised her daughter on the Tamron Hall Show. Prior to the sentimental surprise, Chyna dished on the reconciliation and having a better understanding of her mom.
“I must say, some of the things I have to take accountability for because, like my actions. As a mother, you don’t want to see your daughter doing certain things ‘cause it’s like it doesn’t matter what my past was or what we’re going through, I didn’t raise you that way,” she admitted. “So, it’s like, okay, maybe I was a little bit wrong. Maybe I was acting out a little bit. But I feel like as we grow older, I kinda see more, and I understand more.”
Chyna will be starring in season two of Fox's reality competition show Special Forces: World's Toughest Test.
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Feature image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images