Did Sanaa Lathan Date Her ‘Love & Basketball’ Co-Star?

It’s been almost 20 years since Love & Basketball was released. The film became a cult classic for going against the standard in gender roles and showcasing black love. The relationship between the main characters in the film would become a favorite on-screen couple of fans around the world.

Love & Basketball
Actors Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps film ‘Love & Basketball’ via Twitter

The chemistry was so good between actors Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps that fans assumed the two were indeed an item. Fans have always wished for their on-screen chemistry to be transferred off-screen

‘Love & Basketball’ becomes a cult classic

Love & Basketball was released in the spring of 2000. The romantic drama starred Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps and tells the story of Quincy McCall (Epps) and Monica Wright (Lathan), two childhood neighbors who bond over their shared love of basketball before falling for each other. 

Love & Basketball
Love & Basketball Film Poster via Twitter

The film grossed a little over $3 million on its first day and over $8 million opening weekend, making it the second-highest-grossing movie opening weekend. It went on to become the ninth highest-grossing for a basketball film.

Source: YouTube

Love & Basketball well was received by critics but even more loved by audiences, specifically the African-American community. In a 2015 interview with Buzzfeed News, the cast and director spoke about the film’s cultural impact as it related to gender equality and black affluence. “I wanted to put it out in the world that these two characters travel the same way that anybody else travels both in career and in love [despite being Black],” said its director, Gina Prince-Bythewood said. 

In an interview with Essence Magazine, Epps and Lathan opened up about the film still registering with audiences so many years later. “It’s so cool and amazing that it has become this beloved film that people love,” Lathan said. “Just last night I went out to dinner and these two girls came up to me and said they grew up on the movie and they are looking for their “Q.” 

Did Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps date during ‘Love & Basketball?”

The short answer to that question is yes, but at the time, only Prince-Brythwood was aware. It was important for their secret relationship to remain under the radar as Prince-Brythwood didn’t discover that Lathan and Epps were dating until after they were cast. She told Buzzfeed News in the same 2015 interview that she was nervous about their relationship and how it could affect filming. 

Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan
Omar Epps and his girlfriend, actress Sanaa Lathan 2000 | Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

“I think if I had known, I don’t know if I would have taken that risk. When people are dating or married, a lot of times they don’t have chemistry on screen. What if they break up midway through shooting? But they were hot. There was this sweetness between them. And I just wanted to watch them.”

Buzzfeed nEWS

The two displayed their love for each other arm and arm on red carpets and at the film’s premiere. They did not speak much publicly about their relationship as they did not want it to interfere with their budding careers. It’s not clear when their relationship started or ended but fans speculate that their relationship lasted a little under two years. 

Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan
Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps 2000 | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Lathan and Epps eventually split. He went on to marry his previous girlfriend and the mother of his child, singer Keisha Epps. The two have been married for over a decade. Lathan has been linked to a few high profile men since their split, including rapper French Montana. She remains happily single. 

Are Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps friends today?

Fans would love for the fictional Monica and Quincy to be an item in real life but that’s not the case for Lathan and Epps. They have, however, remained friendly over the years and reunited to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the film in 2015 during the LA Film Festival. 

Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan
Actors Omar Epps (L) and Sanaa Lathan at the 2015 LA Film Festival | Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage

There have been rumors of a sequel but nothing has been confirmed. During a Q&A at the festival, Epps spoke about whether or not he sees one in the future. “Gina and I actually spoke about that and she has this you-don’t-touch-a-classic-thing,” Epps said. “I agree but it’s tempting because it’s like what would the story look like now. The best sequels are when they were in mind during the original when you are searching for the sequel that’s when it doesn’t really work.” Lathan also admitted that she feels the film is “perfect as it is.”

Madame Noire reported in the same year that if a sequel would take place, Epps would want the characters to divorce to reflect the divorce rate in the country. Fans will probably be devastated if their favorite on-screen characters’ love story is tainted as such.