Before landing the role of Jordan Malone, an ambitious shooting guard on a national championship college team, Brooklyn native Enajite Esegine’s knowledge of basketball primarily came from watching it on TV with her father. But her acting talents and athletic abilities that came from volleyball and track helped her land a role on the new TV series “Long, Slow Exhale,” currently airing on Spectrum on Demand.
“I was watching, but in terms of terminology, I didn’t know the different plays until I got on set and we worked with Cynthia Cooper,” said Esegine of the intense two-week boot camp that the principal actors portraying players went through with the four-time WNBA Champion and Hall of Famer.
Esegine said she was surprised that her audition for “Long, Slow Exhale” did not contain any basketball. “I told the show creator, ‘I think I know how to dribble,’” she said. “Funny enough, getting into boot camp with Cynthia, I found out I was dribbling the ball wrong.”
Cooper was patient and understood that most of the actors had minimal basketball experience. “We had four to five hours a day of training. We would have to make layups, do shooting drills and learn how to dribble a basketball while running up and down the court,” Esegine said.
Almost every episode includes game action, during which the actresses played against actual college basketball players. While the action sequences were tough, Esegine appreciated the opportunity to ask the players questions about gameday emotions and preparation, which she brought to her character. She also studied game action and player interviews on YouTube.
The show is set at fictional Colton State University, which after winning the national championship began to encounter serious issues when one of the team’s star players accuses the associate head coach of sexual assault. There is also a murder mystery, and secrets are revealed each episode.
“I hope people are seeing the subjects being brought to light, such as sexual abuse, coming out as LGBTQ and substance abuse,” said Esegine, who is also a writer and hopes to create meaningful content that will impact how the Black community is perceived in the media.
In addition to hoping that the series gets a season two, Esegine hopes to check out a New York Liberty game this summer and meet Michaela Onyenwere as they are both of Nigerian heritage. “There were so many women I was able to look to and take from,” said Esegine. “Seeing their basketball journey.”