‘The Woman King’ Director Gina Prince-Bythewood on the Importance of Speaking Up | How She Did It Presented by Johnnie Walker

The filmmaker traces her career from CBS’ “Schoolbreak Special” to “The Woman King” in TheWrap’s How She Did It, presented by Johnnie Walker

Filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood learned the importance of speaking up early in her career.

Her first job as a director came on CBS’ “Schoolbreak Special,” a job she landed by throwing her hat into the ring. “At that point I wanted to be a director but I was only able to get writing gigs,” Prince-Bythewood told TheWrap as part of our How She Did It series, presented by Johnnie Walker.

“I remember sitting in the room and the producers were talking about directors. In my head I’m screaming, ‘Throwing your name out! Just throw your name out!’ The meeting is over. I was about to get up, and I just said, ‘I think I’m the best director for this.’ The producer was quiet for a second. He looked at me and said, ‘I think you’re right.’ To this day, if I hadn’t opened my mouth, where would I be?”

Prince-Bythewood’s first film, “Love & Basketball,” was turned down by every single production company (“That was devastating”) and most recently her hit historical action epic “The Woman King” faced a long road to finally getting off the ground.

“The biggest things I face is discrimination for the stories I want to tell, and those stories are centering Black women. I think those are the hardest films get made in Hollywood, and these stories are necessary. Not only necessary for us to be able to see ourselves reflected up on the screen, but for the world to see us reflected.”

Prince-Bythewood added that the reaction to “The Woman King,” particularly from young girls, has been fulfilling.

“Nothing is more satisfying than seeing little girls online dressing up as these warriors and chanting,” she said. “You want everybody to be able to see themselves in these characters but when you can see yourself reflected heroically but also root for these women, that’s what you want as a filmmaker.”