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JUWANNA MANN

About The Production
The filmmakers knew the key to the film would be the casting of the title character. "We all knew that this actor needed a range that went from comical hijinks to tender, sensitive moments," says producer and Morgan Creek CEO James G. Robinson. "We tested eight actors for the dual role of Jamal Jeffries and Juwanna Mann and from the very first, I was confident that Miguel Nuñez had the talent to pull it off."

"I don't think you could have asked for a more talented person to work with," says producer Bill Gerber. "You meet him first as a hardcore basketball player who has an urban edge to him. Then, he puts on a dress, some contact lenses, throws in that North Carolina accent and becomes a completely different person. There are a lot of talented people out there who are really good at what they do, but do they have the range of Miguel Nuñez? It's rare."

Creating the two totally opposite roles was a huge challenge for Nuñez. "It was hard because I wondered if I should just be Jamal playing a woman, or if I should be Jamal who becomes a woman," says Nuñez. "I'm from North Carolina, deep, deep, deep in the country just like Juwanna, so I modeled her after every trash-talking country girl that I knew, the ones who always ran their mouths. I also drew from my memories of growing up with seven aunts in my house—their attitudes and how they acted."

To play Banshees team captain Michelle Langford, Vaughan's first choice was Vivica A. Fox. "I wanted her in our film first of all because she's a great actor," relates Vaughan. "Secondly, she has the ability to portray heartfelt sensitivity with that wonderful, beautiful smile of hers and, in a beat, turn it off to give her character an edge and street sensibility. She's an actor with a lot of range and great talent."

"It's not just her beauty," observes executive producer Jonathan A. Zimbert. "She's intelligent, intense and really gets into a part. Like Miguel, Vivica didn't have an extensive athletic background, but she came into the role and really worked it. With professional ball players all around her like Cynthia Cooper, Teresa Weatherspoon and Rita Williams, she makes you believe that she is part of this professional women's basketball team."

"The biggest challenge I faced was getting back in shape," says Fox. "I played ball in high school, but that was about it. I thought I knew basketball, but knowing basketball and playing with the actual WNBA pros are two totally different things."

Playing the role of Jamal's sports agent is veteran actor/comedian Kevin Pollak, who based Lorne on an amalgamation of many of the agents he has dealt with over the years. "I took a variation of all of them and put it into this one little hotshot," he says. "My role is more fun than it is challenging. I get to play ‘inappropriate anger,' which is a fun emotion to play. I studied at the theater of the great one, Jackie Gleason, who was the master of inappropriate anger. My character gets to go through every level of the panic/manic phase of just absolute terror and anger."

Another great addition to the cast is the comedic talent of Kim Wayans. "This movie is so special to me," says Wayans, "because I love the WNBA, I love women's basketball and it's just so cool that there's finally going to be a movie made about it."

Wayans, a veteran of In Living Color, was also impressed with Nuñez' ability in the role. "Miguel has so much energy, it's amazing that he doesn't pass out by the end of the day," she says. "He's not afraid to try different things so you never know what he's going to do next. It reminds me of when I used to do sketch comedy and people would throw ideas at you and you just had to flow with it.&quo

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