The Talent Behind The “Why Not?” Film
The cast and crew of the new Russell Westbrook x Jordan Brand project talk about authenticity and creative collaboration.
Most people outside of Los Angeles, California can’t identify the Crenshaw District on a map. But if they drove through Crenshaw Blvd. from Stocker St. to 30th Ave., they’d feel it, see it and taste it. That “it” is the soul of a community with a rich history and a promising future.
In partnership with Russell Westbrook, Jordan Brand commissioned director Tevin Tavares, writer Lance Holloway and tech maven Iddris Sandu to create a film set in the Crenshaw District of South Los Angeles. The film, titled Why Not?, follows the story of a top high school basketball prospect who has basketball taken away from him. He reluctantly teams up with a misunderstood tech prodigy, and together, they access the game in an unexpected way.
Why Not? is an authentic, ambitious and imaginative film rooted in love — familial love, community love, creative love and Black love. Though everyone involved with the project embraced it, director Tevin Tavares was the conduit for its creative energy. There was instant synergy when Tevin connected with writer and fellow Oakland native, Lance Holloway. Their shared backgrounds, both supported by strong Black elders, helped Lance pen a story with a convincing plot and multi-dimensional characters.
Tevin’s intimate cinematography and Lance’s script reveal dimensions of the Crenshaw District that are often glossed over. Crenshaw has traditionally been a hub of Black excellence, empowerment and equity. There’s a realness woven into the cinematography, the dialog, the locations and even the wardrobe. Why Not? aims to challenge expectations, invite conversation and spark imagination.
Below are anecdotes from some of the Why Not? cast and crew about the film, the process of making it and how Russell Westbrook’s motto influenced the project.
On directing Why Not?:
“My goal is to make something that everybody can relate to. Everybody can relate to love. So, why not do a film for Jordan Brand that’s family-friendly but also visceral and gritty? I come from a family of strong Black women and men who put that soul in me at a young age. I know what’s real and what’s not.”
On writing and casting Why Not?:
“We not only had representation in front of the camera, but we also had it behind the camera. On set, we had Black actors, a Black sound tech, a Black grip and Black PAs. It created this sense of community and culture within the film itself.”
On the importance of tech in the Black community:
“There’s this misconception that we aren’t interested in it. This inherently stems from the biases associated with how technology is created. We’ve often been reduced to consumers or content creators, rather than elevated as platform owners and builders. But now is the time for that to change. We’re here to represent what could be our future.”
On creating an authentic production:
“I just wanted to keep it as authentic as possible. I wanted to make sure we really shot in the Crenshaw District. So, I hired a location manager that ran the Crenshaw YMCA basketball program for 20 years, who’s from the district and owned the homes we were shooting at.”
Actor (Lead character: Quentin)
On having a supportive cast and crew:
“Everyone wanted to bring the best out of everybody. I wanted to see every actor do their best. I wanted to see Jullian do his best. I wanted to see Jakobe do his best. And then, Lance and Tevin wanted to see us do our best.”
Actor (Character: Yakub)
On the tone set by director Tevin Tavares:
“Tevin set the tone, and everybody else followed suit after that. Everybody began to feel comfortable. And it was real, and it was Black, and it was real.”
Actor (Character: Ron)
On the universality of the Why Not? story:
“The backdrop is L.A., but I can imagine this in DC. It’s more than just the gang bangin’, getting into trouble or sports. Your future is not just those things. It could be tech.”
On subverting stereotypes:
“When you think about a story centered on youth in Crenshaw, you probably think about basketball or music. I just love the fact that it’s tech, and it interrupts that thinking.”
Actor (Character: Jakari)
On embodying the “Why not” mentality:
“When I fully got the message of why not, I realized that I’m already living by it. Russell Westbrook, shout out to you.”
The Why Not? film debuts digitally June 24 and on Nike.com/Jordan/community for a limited time only.