Sanaa Lathan

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Sanaa Lathan
Sanaa Lathan Comic-Con 2011.jpg
Lathan at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con
Born Sanaa McCoy Lathan
(1971-09-19) September 19, 1971 (age 43)[1]
New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley Yale University
Occupation Actress, voice actress
Years active 1996–present
Parents Eleanor McCoy
Stan Lathan

Sanaa McCoy Lathan[2] (born September 19, 1971) is an American actress and voice actress. She has starred in many films, including the box-office hits The Best Man and the 2013 sequel, Love & Basketball, Brown Sugar, Alien vs. Predator and The Family That Preys. Lathan was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance on Broadway in A Raisin in the Sun. In 2010, she starred in the all-black performance of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Novello Theatre in London.[3]

Early life[edit]

Lathan was born in New York City and attended Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics. Her first name means "art" in Swahili and "brilliance" in Arabic.[4] She is of African American and Native American descent.[5][6] Her mother, Eleanor McCoy, was an actress and dancer[7] who performed on Broadway with Eartha Kitt. Her father, Stan Lathan, worked behind the scenes in television for PBS, as well as a producer on shows such as Sanford & Son and Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam. Her brother is Tendaji Lathan (a DJ).

She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in English. Lathan also graduated at Yale University with a degree in Drama.[2]


Following her training at Yale, where she studied with Earle R. Gister and performed in a number of Shakespeare's plays, Lathan earned acclaim both off-Broadway and on the Los Angeles stage. Encouraged by her father to make Los Angeles her professional base, the young actress found early television roles on episodes of such shows as In the House, Family Matters, NYPD Blue, and Moesha.[2] During that same period, she won raves and a Best Actress nod from the Los Angeles NAACP Theatrical Award Committee for her performance in To Take Arms.

In 1998, Lathan earned a degree of recognition with her role as the mother of Wesley Snipes' title character in Blade.[2] She followed this the subsequent year with a role in Life with Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy and back-to-back turns in The Best Man and The Wood. The Best Man was a comedic ensemble film, starring Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Harold Perrineau Jr., and Morris Chestnut.[8] The Best Man went on to become one of the top ten highest grossing African American films in history and Lathan received a NAACP Image Award nomination for her performance. The Wood, another ensemble film starring Diggs and Omar Epps, cast her as the love interest of Epps.[2] Lathan and Epps were reunited onscreen in Gina Prince-Bythewood's Love & Basketball, this time playing a couple as passionate about basketball as they are about each other.[9] In reality, the couple was also dating at the time. The film served as a break-out role for Lathan, who played a leading character instead of the girlfriend of one. Her performance in Love & Basketball earned her the 2001 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, as well as an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actress and a BET Award. In 2000, Lathan appeared in the Off-Broadway production of "The Vagina Monologues" along with Teri Garr and Julianna Margulies.[10]

Lathan at the 2010 Comic Con in San Diego.

In 2001, Lathan earned additional acclaim for her work in the multicultural comedy Catfish in Black Bean Sauce.[11] Next was her second collaboration with Prince-Bythewood: Disappearing Acts; it is based on a novel by Terry McMillan.[12] In the HBO movie, Lathan is cast as an aspiring singer/songwriter in love with a carpenter, played by her ‘’Blade’’ co-star Wesley Snipes. For her work in the film, Lathan earned an Essence Award for Best Actress, as well as the added assurance of a very busy work schedule. That year, she was named by Ebony magazine as one of its 55 Most Beautiful People and was honoured by Essence magazine and Black Entertainment Television. In 2002, Lathan starred in the romantic comedy, Brown Sugar, alongside Diggs, Queen Latifah, and Mos Def.[13] Lathan's performance earned an NAACP Image Award Nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture. The film also received an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Motion Picture. In 2004, Lathan starred on Broadway in A Raisin in the Sun with Sean Combs, Audra McDonald, and Phylicia Rashad. Lathan received a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actress for her portrayal of Beneatha Younger. Several years later, Lathan reprised the role in a critically acclaimed ABC Network production of A Raisin in the Sun.[14]

Lathan subsequently starred in several major Hollywood films, including Alien vs. Predator,[15] which was Lathan's biggest role to date. Alien vs. Predator was a major success grossing over $171 million worldwide.[16] Out of Time was also an important role for Lathan as she played the plot-twist antagonist, sharing the screen with protagonist Denzel Washington.[17]

Lathan has completed several movie roles in which her characters are involved in interracial relationships. In 2006, she co-starred with Simon Baker in Something New, a romantic comedy;[18] as Michelle Landau, the much younger wife of a Texas businessman (Larry Hagman) during the fourth season of the television series, Nip/Tuck;;[19] and in 2008 as Andrea in Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys. The film also features Alfre Woodard and Kathy Bates; it was released in the U.S. on September 12, 2008.[20] In an interview with NPR, Lathan said the script took a fresh approach to telling an interracial love story, by describing the internal conflict some African-American women confront when it comes to dating interracially. "I feel like with black women, in a way, I feel like it has been harder for us to go there just in terms of culturally. I know that there's this statistic that says that like 13 percent of black men are in interracial relationships. And don't quote me on this, but it's like four percent or three percent of black women are in interracial relationships; and I think that says a lot about, you know, either black women's loyalty her black man or her either guilt about stepping outside of the race."[21]

In 2009, Lathan co-starred with Matthew Broderick in the drama Wonderful World.[22] She also began voicing the character Donna Tubbs on The Cleveland Show.[23]

Lathan is currently playing the title role in Second Stage Theatre's By The Way, Meet Vera Stark by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage co-starring Stephanie J. Block, and David Garrison closing June 12. In 2011, Lathan co-starred in the Steven Soderbergh thriller Contagion alongside Matt Damon, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne.In 2011, Lathan starred alongside Anthony Mackie and Forest Whitaker in Vipaka, a psychological thriller directed by Phillipe Caland.[24] Lathan played series regular Mona Fredricks in the second season of Starz' original series Boss, starring Kelsey Grammer.


Lathan at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Wonderful World.
Year Title Role Other notes
1997 Miracle in the Woods Young Lilly
Drive Carolyn Brody
1998 Blade Vanessa Brooks
1999 The Wood Alicia
The Best Man Robin
Catfish in Black Bean Sauce Nina
Life Daisy
2000 Love & Basketball Monica Wright, Monica Wright-McCall
Disappearing Acts Zora Banks
2002 Brown Sugar Sidney 'Sid' Shaw
2003 Out of Time Ann Merai Harrison
2004 Alien vs. Predator Alexa Woods
2005 The Golden Blaze Monica (voice)
2006 Something New Kenya McQueen
Nip/Tuck Michelle Landau recurring role
2008 A Raisin in the Sun Beneatha Younger
The Family That Preys Andrea Pratt-Bennett
2009 Wonderful World Khadi
Powder Blue Diana
2009–2013 The Cleveland Show Donna Tubbs (voice) 88 episodes
2010–present Family Guy Donna Tubbs (voice) various episodes
2011 Contagion Aubrey Cheever
2011 Night of the Hurricane Donna Tubbs (voice)
2012 Boss Mona Fredricks cast member
2013 The Best Man Holiday Robin
2014 Repentance[25] Maggie Carter
2015 The Perfect Guy Leah Vaughn
2016 The Best Man Wedding Robin

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Nominated work Award Category Result
2001 Love & Basketball BET Award Best Actress Won
2001 Love & Basketball Independent Spirit Awards Best Female Lead Nominated
2001 Love & Basketball Black Reel Award Best Actress Won
2001 Disappearing Acts Black Reel Award Best Actress Nominated
2001 Love & Basketball Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Won
2003 Brown Sugar Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
2003 Brown Sugar Black Reel Award Best Actress Nominated
2003 A Raisin in the Sun Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Play Nominated
2004 Out of Time Black Reel Award Best Actress Won
2004 Out of Time Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
2004 A Raisin in the Sun Theatre World Award Best Female Lead Won
2006 Something New Black Movie Awards Best Actress Nominated
2006 Something New Black Reel Award Best Actress Nominated
2007 Something New Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
2007 Nip/Tuck Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
2008 The Family That Preys Black Reel Award Best Actress Nominated
2009 A Raisin in the Sun Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie/Mini-Series Nominated
2012 By The Way, Meet Vera Stark Lucille Lortel Awards Outstanding Lead Actress Won
2012 By The Way, Meet Vera Stark Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Play Nominated


  1. ^ Rebecca Flint Marx (2009). "Sanaa Lathan:Biography on MSN". MSN. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Sanaa Lathan- Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  3. ^ Sanaa Lathan Joins Jones and Rashad in West End Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  4. ^ Biography for Sanaa Lathan at the Internet Movie Database
  5. ^ "VERGO Presents: Fashion with a Side of Life". Vergo Magazine. 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  6. ^ Vissa Studio: The Hair E-Magazine (2010). "Sanaa Lathan Hair Styles". Vissa Studios 2010 an Alfam Company. Retrieved 2010-12-05. 
  7. ^ Sanaa Lathan Biography (1971?-)
  8. ^ Blackman, Lori (December 13, 2000). "Sanaa Lathan". CNN. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  9. ^ Moore, Roger (April 21, 2000). "Sanaa Lathan's Got Game With Role In Basketball Film". Orlando sentinel. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "Sanaa Lathan Joins Jones and Rashad in West End Cat on a Hot Tin Roof". June 3, 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  11. ^ Thomas, Kevin (June 9, 2000). "Catfish in Black Bean Sauce". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  12. ^ LaSalle, Mick (December 8, 2000). "An Intelligent Woman In Incredible 'Acts' / Sanaa Lathan stars as a struggling artist". Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  13. ^ "Brown Sugar (2002)". New York Times. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  14. ^ Juarez, Vanessa (April 10, 2008). "'A Raisin in the Sun' Roundtable". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  15. ^ "Alien Vs Predator: Interview with Lance Henriksen & Sanaa Lathan". 08-11-2004. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  16. ^ "Alien Vs. Predator". Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  17. ^ "Out of Time". Internet Movie database. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  18. ^ ""Something New" (2006)". Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  19. ^ Slezak, Michael (June 1, 2006). "'Nip/Tuck': Sanaa Lathan, Rosie join the cast". EW. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  20. ^ Holden, Stephen (September 12, 2008). "Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys (2008)". New York Times. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  21. ^ "'Something New for Actress Sanaa Lathan'". 6 February 2006. 
  22. ^ "SANAA LATHAN’S WONDERFUL WORLD". Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  23. ^ "Voices of Donna-tubbs Brown". Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  24. ^ "Forest Whitaker To Star In Voodoo Horror Flick Vipaka With Anthony Mackie". 2011-08-03. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  25. ^

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