Jonquel Jones And Nneka Ogwumike Are Moving The WNBA Forward With New ‘Shattered Glass’ Documentary

WNBA players are moving. This is true in the literal sense — the league’s biggest stars are increasingly changing teams in free agency — while at the same time, they’re seizing a bigger platform. Players come together, whether it be on super teams or around collective action.

The premiere of Shattered Glass: A WNBPA Story on Tubi last month highlighted both tracks. The film follows four stars on and off the court: Breanna Stewart, Nneka Ogwumike and Jonquel Jones, as well as retired legend Sheryl Swoopes. Rather than simply joining a chorus of voices documenting the growth of women’s sports, the film shows that growth through the lives of four women who helped enable it.

“Just having something out there, I’m hoping will inspire people to tell their own stories,” Ogwumike recently told Dime. “But mostly it will inspire others who care to support those stories, and I’m really happy to have been a part of a project that can catalyze that, I’m hoping.”

As president of the executive committee of the WNBA Players Association, Ogwumike was involved in the original planning around the doc. But it took some urging from executive director Terri Jackson before Ogwumike agreed to be a subject of it herself.

Director Andrea Buccilla told Swish Appeal she wanted subjects who represent each major archetype fans recognize among WNBA athletes. Ogwumike was the natural fit as the embodiment of an advocate and ambassador for the game. Jones is in a different position, pushing for her first championship in the thick of her prime. For her, the film was important to show fans there’s room for play within all the work.

“I think I’m a pretty funny person most of the time, and I can make people feel welcome … I call it, like, the Bahamian side of myself,” Jones, who grew up in Freeport, told Dime. “I have a straight face and I’m locked in, so my personality doesn’t show as much while I’m on the basketball court.”

The doc goes behind the scenes on the 2023 WNBA season, in which Jones changed teams for the first time in her career and pushed for a championship with the New York Liberty. The pressure of that task only set in as it went along. And losing to the shorthanded Las Vegas Aces in New York in Game Four of the WNBA Finals only intensified the desire Jones and her teammates possess heading into the 2024 season, which tips off this May.

“This year, we’re established, right? We know exactly what our identity’s gonna be,” Jones said. “It’s not a situation of great players coming together, but not really knowing how they’re going to mess or how they’re going to gel or what the chemistry is going to be like.

“We’re now in a situation where we know exactly who we’re going to be on the court,” she continued. “We know the things that we need to fix in order to play at a high level and be better than we were last year.”

Ogwumike is a vet and role model for the players she leads, but she’s doing what Jones did last year: Changing teams for the first time in her WNBA career. She recently signed with the Seattle Storm, joining star scorer Jewell Loyd and another major 2024 acquisition, Skylar Diggins-Smith.

Seattle’s moves may have assembled one more super team in the crowded WNBA. Aside from it being the first move for both Jones and Ogwumike, the other similarity is the investment coming from the organizations that recruited each player.

“I think in this modern day of sports, players are looking for a standard of foundation, a standard of professionalism as it relates to the experience, and that has a lot to do with the infrastructural things that are included in an organization,” Ogwumike said. “It wasn’t hard for me to consider Seattle given who was running it, and the types of people that are on staff on the coaching staff and the players that they have, and for that to be paired with visible investment is important.”

Jones was happy to see Ogwumike move.

“As players we know what we deserve and we know when it’s time to move on,” Jones said. “Anytime you decide to make that change and go somewhere else, it’s always a tough decision, but I feel like there is this knowing inside of yourself that it’s time to change.”

The respect goes both ways. Jones once spoke out about the WNBA and its partners not marketing her at the level she deserved as an MVP and playoff mainstay in the league. Not long after, she scored a spot in a State Farm commercial in the spring of 2022. It was Ogwumike who connected with Jones and lauded her for speaking up for herself and creating new opportunities.

“I would say always speak up on what you’re feeling, the things that you see, that you want to be paid,” Jones said. “And you never know what’s gonna happen, but it doesn’t happen unless you’re willing to speak up about it.”

That’s exactly what the WNBPA did in creating Shattered Glass with Tubi. The stars are showcasing their lives and careers while acting as living evidence that investment is coming to their game. And if all goes well, the hope is that Shattered Glass will not be a one-off. Instead, it will turn into a first chapter that highlights the way the league (and those in it) is moving forward.