The basketball star and the Incubation Lab also partnered with Jordan Brand for the project, with the purpose to elevate storytellers in the Black community, including the short’s co-writer and director Tevin Tavares and writer Lance Cameron Holloway.
According to a description of the project, “Why Not?” showcases the culture of Los Angeles’ Crenshaw neighborhood and aims to expose youth in marginalized communities to the ever-growing technology space.
The short focuses on a top high school basketball player who finds another way to impact his community when the sport is taken away from him: he teams up with a misunderstood neighborhood teen tech wizard.
“A lot of the youth in Black and Brown communities look at the tech space as an almost impossible field to exist within,” Westbrook says of the project. “They don’t often see themselves represented at the major tech companies of the world and they don’t see it as the ‘cool’ thing to do. Well, ‘Why Not?'”
“‘Why Not’ is a mantra I live by,” Westbrook continues. “Because I believe it is important to empower the next generation and encourage them to never give up. Why can’t young Black kids in untapped neighborhoods like Crenshaw get exposed to tech? This film is that story, and I hope it inspires kids in marginalized communities around the world.”
The NBA veteran’s sentiments echo the project’s tagline: “Dream beyond expectations and create your own destiny.”
The new short is not Westbrook’s first Hollywood project. Westbrook partnered with celebrated documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson and producer Blackfin to produce the docuseries “Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre,” which debuted in May on the History Channel.
In July 2020, Variety exclusively revealed that Sony Pictures would form the Incubation Lab, creating what co-founder Jeron Smith described as a “culture-forward content incubator.”
The goal of the lab was to identify “non-traditional storytellers,” like athletes, musicians, designers, artists, and more; pair them with screenwriters and filmmakers to develop original intellectual property and pitch those ideas to Sony for development. “Why Not?” is one such production.
“’Why Not?’ is ultimately a gritty and raw story of self-discovery,” adds Aloni Ford, the Incubation Lab’s head of production. “The film highlights the multitude of other opportunities and career paths available to explore when a basketball-obsessed teen is challenged to find another purpose and not be defined by just a ball and a rim. We hope this film resonates and challenges the old school, narrow thought framework of what it means to be successful and Black.”