ESPN Films’ latest documentary “Candace Parker: Unapologetic” Presented by CarMax will debut Sunday, November 12 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. Directed by award-winning Joie Jacoby, the wide-ranging, revealing, and at times intimate film will cover Parker’s journey through basketball and life, from the weighty expectations that have surrounded her potential since she was just a young teenager, through her redefining what it means to be a women’s sports star in the twenty-first century, and where she might go from here. Immediately after its premiere, the film will be available on ESPN+, along with the rest of the ESPN Films library. Trailer
“I’ve been fascinated with Candace’s career since she was drafted to the WNBA during my tenure as a producer on The ESPYS,” said director Joie Jacoby. “She is someone who has made history at every point in her career and has had to endure the scrutiny that comes with that, yet she does it with such grace to make it look effortless. I was most struck by her commitment to her work, but most importantly to her family and her role as a working mother. I’m eager to take fans behind the curtain with Candace as she shows how much effort that has truly taken along the way.”
The documentary features rare behind-the-scenes access during Parker’s 2022 season while tracing the entire arc of her story back to her childhood in Naperville, Illinois, outside of Chicago. After emerging as a high school phenomenon, Parker became a highly touted recruit who chose the storied Tennessee Lady Vols program and eventually led the team to back-to-back national titles in 2007 and 2008 under Tennessee’s legendary coach and mentor Pat Summitt. Despite a long series of physical setbacks throughout her career that began with an ACL tear in high school, Parker became the WNBA’s first overall draft pick in 2008, winning the league’s Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards for the Los Angeles Sparks in her first season.
From there, life would be about balancing the personal and professional, as the following year she gave birth to her daughter Lailaa. Along with her basketball ups and downs – highlighted by championships in 2016 in Los Angeles and 2021 with the Chicago Sky, and marred by waves of criticism and a messy departure from L.A. – the film chronicles her journey through motherhood, her divorce from former NBA player Shelden Williams, and her marriage to Anna Petrakova, her former teammate in the Russian league.
Added Marsha Cooke, Vice President & Executive Producer, ESPN Films and 30 for 30: “We have a commitment to telling stories around compelling women, and it’s hard to find a better subject than Candace. Everyone knows about her astonishing career, undoubtedly one of the greatest ever – but those incredible highs and accolades barely scratch the surface. She’s a deep, fascinating, authentic person and this film gives us the chance to tell an intimate story about a gifted athlete, wife, and mother. For all she’s accomplished and for as long as she’s been in the public eye, most people still don’t know her. That’s what makes this film unique: Candace speaking her truth, and doing so in a beautiful way.”
The film is executive produced by ESPN Films, produced by Film 45, and directed by award-winning Joie Jacoby. Additional information, including film clips and director statements and bios, are available upon request.
About ESPN Films
ESPN Films has been an industry leader in documentary filmmaking since its inception in March 2008, producing more than 100 documentaries that have showcased some of the most compelling stories in sports. The high quality of storytelling, highlighted by the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning 30 for 30 series and the Academy-Award winning documentary “O.J.: Made in America,” has led to record viewership as well as multiple honors and critical acclaim. Additional projects from ESPN Films over the years have included 30 for 30 Shorts, Nine for IX, SEC Storied and Emmy award-winning docu-series “The Last Dance.” ESPN+ is the exclusive home for the entire 30 for 30 library.