Twenty years ago yesterday (Jan. 12), the film Save the Last Dance premiered in theaters. The 2001 film starred Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas and co-starred Kerry Washington, who played a supporting role that would change her life.
Washington celebrated the release of the film on Instagram, writing, "OH EM GEE!!!!! Save the Last Dance turns 20 years old today 😱😱😱😱😱! Playing Chenille changed my life."
Chenille was the sister of the main character, played by Sean Patrick Thomas.
Washington continued, "I read that script and I felt like I KNEW her. At the time, I also knew the narrative that was being served in culture about who Black teen moms are. And I knew that if done right, this was an opportunity to transform some stereotyped thinking and make this young woman REAL. And human. And deserving of love and attention."
She also added, "I loooooved being a part of this film. This cast. This crew. So many ‘slammin’ memories! 😍😜."
Thomas also wrote about the film’s anniversary, “We shocked the world, including myself. Never imagined the film would be as beloved as it is.”
The film followed Sara (Stiles), a ballet dancer, who is an outcast when she attends an all-Black school. She eventually bonds with Derek (Thomas) and his sister Chenille (Washington). Sara and Derek fall in love while Derek, an aspiring pediatrician, helps Sara incorporate hip hop into her ballet routines in preparation for a crucial audition to get into Juilliard.
Save the Last Dance earned over $130 million at the box office. Watch the trailer for the film, below: