The summer rom-com season is here.
And with it, an addictive formula we keep coming back to: A quirky woman in media, usually a magazine, falls head over heels for a man who she typically wouldn’t date. Her friends advise against the suitor, but love persists – until there’s an obstacle that tears them apart. Fate brings them back together and they live happily ever after.
Netflix’s “The Perfect Find,” (streaming Friday), is the latest addition to the genre’s canon. Based on a Tia Williams novel, the Numa Perrier-directed movie stars Gabrielle Union and Keith Powers in the rom-com with an age gap twist.
Union’s character Jenna, a 40-year-old fashion media mogul struggling with her career after a breakup, has fallen hopelessly in love with her new boss’s son, a fresh college grad with videographer chops. For actor and producer Union, 50, the movie goes beyond the script as she’s married to former NBA player Dwyane Wade, 41.
“I lived it,” Union says. “Being with someone who’s nine years younger than me and dealing with it. In the very beginning, (Wade’s mother) was like … ‘What do you want?’ … So you pull from those things.”
Keith Powers relates to public breakups in ‘Perfect Find’
“The Perfect Find” begins with Union’s character struggling to reenter society after going through a publicity nightmare following her breakup after a long-term relationship.
Both actors, who have survived headlines surrounding their personal lives, can relate.
“I went through a public breakup, and I think really showing myself in front of my family was hard,” Powers, whose name made headlines in 2022 for allegedly ending his relationship with actress Ryan Destiny. “My mom was just like ‘It’s just kind of embarrassing for us.’ And I just got really mad because I was just like ‘This has nothing to do with y’all.’ “
Union, who’s had headlines swirl around her own relationships and family finances says in many instances when personal life gets to the public eye, “the truth gets lost.”
“Whoever gets to the microphone first sets the tidal wave,” Union says. “You’re like ‘They said I have six toes, I can show you I have five.’ They’re like ‘She said it was six so, don’t try to hide the nubby.’ “
Union says characters with careers in media are great for rom-com storytelling
As Union’s character rehabilitates from a media nightmare she jumps head first into the industry working for her frenemy’s magazine, a common job for rom-com women: “Never Been Kissed,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” and the “Sex and the City” series all centered on women in publishing.
Union, who knows the onscreen job all too well with her BET movie and series, “Being Mary Jane,” thinks the job commonality exists in the genre because journalists are “thinkers naturally.”
“Their worldview tends to be bigger. So you don’t have to spend as much time introducing new things,” Union says. “She’s in the world. She’s of the world, she’s documenting the world … Now the world is bigger because of who might be coming in or out of their lives. (It’s) easier for storytelling.”
Powers recalls watching Union be ‘dope’ on screen when he was younger
Between Union and Powers, 30, there is a 20-year age gap, similar to the gap between their characters.
With their age difference, Powers was able to watch his future co-star on screen, and that was a major selling point for him to jump on to the film.
“I always think back to the classic, ‘Bring it On,’ ” Powers says referencing Union’s major 2000 movie debut. “That film just gives me a feeling of being easy to watch. Just easy to digest. And it’s fun when you watch a movie that you’ve seen in the past that’s so good, that you know what’s coming, but it feels new every single time in this weird way.”
After “Bring it On,” Union was cast in several rom-com movies including “Two Can Play That Game,” and “Deliver Us From Eva” but for Powers, the Union movie with the most impact was an action-comedy sequel co-starring with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.
“You’ve done so well in so many movies that I’ve watched but ‘Bad Boys II’? That was fire. That was dope,” he says.