This year will mark the 25th anniversary of the 1998 film, “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.” The beloved rom-com starred Angela Bassett, Whoopi Goldberg, and Regina King. It also introduced Hollywood audiences to rising Broadway star Taye Diggs.
In the movie, Bassett portrayed Stella Payne, a 40-year-old stockbroker from California who took a well-deserved vacation to Jamaica with her best friend Delilah, played by Goldberg. While there, Stella embarked on a week-long fling with 20-year-old Winston Shakespeare, played by Diggs.
After going their separate ways, Stella and Winston realized they had developed real feelings for each other. While taking a chance at love, they are both faced with challenging realities, mostly surrounding their age difference.
The on-screen chemistry between Bassett and Diggs’ characters was undeniable. According to the actress, it was a completely brand “new” experience for her.
While attending the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday, June 17, the 64-year-old Golden Globe winner reunited with the film’s director, Kevin Rodney Sullivan, for a Q&A panel conversation.
Per The Wrap, Bassett shared that Diggs wasn’t the only male heartthrob up for the role. “It was down to three that we actually put to film,” she recalled without mentioning any names.
“When it came down to it, Taye had, across the board, the attributes that are needed,” she said. “And the foremost needed was he had to fulfill the fantasy.”
This “fantasy” she speaks of focused accurately on capturing the female perspective of Stella’s wants and needs, despite the movie being directed by a man.
“It was not Winston’s story. It was Stella’s story,” said Sullivan. “And it wasn’t and it shouldn’t be clouded by my maleness, my gender deficiency. So, I thought of Angela as my partner. We were partners. We made the movie together.”
Referring to Winston and Stella’s steamy shower scene, Sullivan said it was important that he make “love scenes from a woman’s point of view.”
He added, “So, I developed some ideas around the love scenes… And I storyboarded them and I shared them with Angela so that she could see exactly what I wanted to do and we could talk about it and we [could] be specific.”
The NAACP Image Award-winning director then credited Bassett for sharing some of her ideas, which “ultimately made it to the screen.”
One of Bassett’s ideas consisted of Winston stripping down to his birthday suit. “It’s my fantasy, he has to be naked not me,” she said, as reported by People magazine.
The “Black Panther” actress also gave Sullivan his flowers for involving her in his process of directing when it came time to film her and Diggs’ romance scenes.
“It was a very, very comfortable experience,” Bassett admitted. “I had a couple other [experiences filming s– scenes], like you say it, from the male point of view, whether it was ‘What’s Love’ or whether it was ‘City of Hope,’ where you have these love scenes and men are directing it and it’s their fantasy.”
In 1999, both Bassett and Goldberg were awarded NAACP Image Awards for “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” for lead actress and supporting actress. The popular film also inspired the unscripted reality dating show “Back In the Groove,” which featured Diggs as the host.
The Hulu original followed 40-something-year-old women who were interested in finding love with younger men. The show premiered in 2022, and has yet to be renewed for a second season.
Fans can take a trip down memory lane by watching “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” on multiple streaming platforms.