Power of the Dream trailer shot. Screengrab via YouTube.

You may have heard about how the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream helped flipped the Senate back in 2020. But chances are, you don’t know the full story. A new upcoming documentary called Power of the Dream is hoping to change that.

Directed by documentary filmmaker Dawn Porter, Power of the Dream opens up in the middle of the 2020 WNBA season, in a confined and secure bubble at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. Fondly known as the “Wubble” to WNBA players and fans alike, viewers are given an inside look into how all of the players lived, functioned and played basketball at a single location while navigating a global pandemic. But this film isn’t about playing professional sports while managing COVID-19. That’s just the backdrop, the setting. 

The focus of the documentary goes much deeper, opening up an exclusive window into the world of activism, grassroots organization, and the seismic impact of what can happen when a league of 144 WNBA players come together to support each other and a dedicated cause they fully believe in. 

Power of the Dream chronicles the inspiring stories of  WNBA players Sue Bird, Nneka Ogwumike, Angel McCoughtry, Layshia Clarendon and Elizabeth Williams and details how they all played a key role in amplifying the Black Lives Matter and Say Her Name movements, while simultaneously rallying behind now-Senator Raphael Warnock, leaving an undeniable mark on both their sport and U.S. politics.

The WNBA has long been the most progressive and diverse professional sports league in the world. And it has everything to do with its players. From fighting for better pay, more media coverage and league amenities to using their platforms to speak out on social justice issues and LGBTQIA+ rights, WNBA players have been at the forefront, willing to raise their voices at times when others have remained silent. 

During the summer of 2020, that was never more apparent. 

In August 2020, during the Dream’s first televised game of the season, the team strolled off the bus and into the arena wearing black tees with Vote Warnock on the front in white letters. Warnock, a Democrat, was a long shot to win Georgia’s senate election at the time. Not many people knew who he was. He was running against Kelly Loeffler, a sitting Republican Senator and co-owner of the Dream. The message was loud and clear.

WNBA players had been wearing tees in support of Black Lives Matter previously and had been vocal about other unjust police shootings in the past, as far back as 2016. Before the 2020 WNBA season, they honored Breonna Taylor by dedicating the entire season to her memory and the “Say Her Name” movement. Loeffler did not approve and made a public statement against the WNBA players’ actions, as well as the league. The irony was not lost on them. But what happened next is what makes the WNBA so special. All of the players came together to discuss the matter and listen to each other’s thoughts and opinions, particularly members of the Dream, to come to an agreement on what to do next.

“Players are pissed. Like, people are mad. How can you redirect that energy,” former WNBA player Bird poses in the doc. 

The answer? Change the course of an election, of course.

Players within the union’s executive committee started a chat group, throwing around ideas. They settled on the Georgia senate race and began looking at the candidates running against Loeffler. After learning about Warnock, vetting and having discussions with him for over a month, the decision was made. And so were the Vote Warnock tees. When the moment came to wear them, Dream players donned them proudly. Other teams and players across the league did as well. They took photos, posted them on social media, spread the word. 

“We are a league of women who understands what’s most important. This was a moment where it’s bigger than basketball,” Ogwumike, Seattle Storm forward and current WNBPA president, says in the doc.

In January 2021, Warnock was declared the winner of Georgia’s runoff election for the senate. There’s a lot more that went into his victory than just wearing Vote Warnock tees, and Power of the Dream showcases all of it from start to finish. Overall, it’s a magnificently shot and well-documented account of what can happen when a group of likeminded and diverse women athletes share the same passion and vision, and use their platform to effect change.

“It was truly a beautiful demonstration of advocacy and empowerment, and I’m really grateful to have been a part of it,” says Ogwumike near the end of the film. 

“Believing you can change the world with people around you, is so powerful,” adds Clarendon.

Power of the Dream will be available for steaming on Amazon Prime Video on June 18.

About Lyndsey D'Arcangelo

Lyndsey D’Arcangelo is a seasoned sports writer, author and women’s sports advocate. She previously wrote about women’s basketball for The Athletic and is the co-author of Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women’s Football League.