Sanaa Lathan - Rotten Tomatoes

Sanaa Lathan



An actress who has been noted equally for her talent and beauty, Sanaa Lathan first caught the attention of critics and audiences alike in a series of witty, thought-provoking late-'90s films about the lives of young African-Americans. Featured prominently in such ensemble pieces as The Best Man and The Wood (both 1999), Lathan won her first starring role in Gina Prince-Bythewood's widely acclaimed Love & Basketball (2000), playing a talented basketball player who finds her professional dreams complicated by her relationship with her boyfriend and her own expectations of herself. Lathan's work in the film, along with her performance that same year in Prince-Bythewood's HBO movie Disappearing Acts, announced the actress as a charismatic new talent to watch.



Born on October 19, 1971, Lathan -- whose first name is Swahili for "work of art" -- was the second oldest of five children born to Broadway actress and dancer Eleanor McCoy and director/producer Stan Lathan. Surrounded by show business since day one, Lathan began training in dance and gymnastics at an early age. Following her parents' divorce, she grew up shuttling between her mother's home in New York and Los Angeles, where her father lived. During her undergraduate education at UC Berkeley, where she studied English and toyed with the idea of becoming a lawyer, Lathan became involved with the Black Theater Workshop. Thanks in part to her stage experiences with the Workshop, she was encouraged to try out for the Yale School of Drama, where she was ultimately accepted.



Following her training at Yale, where she 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 L.A. her professional base, the young actress found early TV work on episodes of such shows as Family Matters, NYPD Blue, and Moesha. 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 big-screen recognition with her role as the mother of Wesley Snipes' title character in Blade. She followed this the subsequent year with back-to-back turns in The Best Man and The Wood. The former was a comedic ensemble piece starring Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Harold Perrineau Jr., and Monica Calhoun, and featured Lathan as Diggs' girlfriend; while the latter, another ensemble piece starring Diggs, Omar Epps, and Richard T. Jones, cast her as the love interest of Epps, who also happened to be her real-life boyfriend. In 1999, Lathan played yet another girlfriend, this time Eddie Murphy's, in Ted Demme's comedy Life.



Lathan and Epps were reunited onscreen in Prince-Bythewood's Love & Basketball, this time playing a couple as passionate about basketball as they are about each other. The widely lauded film served as a break-out role for Lathan, who was finally able to play a leading character instead of the girlfriend of one. Her work in Love & Basketball earned her Best Actress nominations for both the N.A.A.C.P. Image Award and the Independent Spirit Award. That same year, Lathan earned additional acclaim for her work in the multicultural comedy Catfish in Black Bean Sauce and for her second collaboration with Prince-Bythewood, Disappearing Acts. Based on a novel by Terry McMillan, the HBO movie cast Lathan 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.

Photos

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet Now You See Me 3
  • Natalie Austin
2017
No Score Yet American Assassin
  • Irene Kennedy
2017
34% Now You See Me 2
  • Deputy Director Natalie Austin
2016
45% Approaching the Unknown
  • Captain Emily Maddox
2016
No Score Yet The Best Man Wedding
  • Robin
2016
19% The Perfect Guy
  • Leah Vaughn
  • Executive Producer
2015
20% Repentance
  • Maggie
2014
69% The Best Man Holiday
  • Robin Stewart
2013
84% Contagion
  • Aubrey Cheever
2011
38% Wonderful World
  • Khadi
2010
25% Powder Blue
  • Diana
2009
51% The Family That Preys
  • Andrea
2008
83% A Raisin in the Sun
  • Beneatha Younger
2008
61% Something New
  • Kenya Denise McQueen
2006
No Score Yet The Golden Blaze
  • Monica
2005
21% AVP - Alien Vs. Predator
  • Alexa Woods
2004
65% Out of Time
  • Ann Merai Harrison
2003
66% Brown Sugar
  • Sidney
2002
No Score Yet Drive
  • Carolyn Brody
2002
57% Blade II
  • Vanessa Brooks (uncredited)
2002
No Score Yet Disappearing Acts
  • Actor
2000
43% Catfish in Black Bean Sauce
  • Nina
2000
82% Love and Basketball
  • Monica Wright
2000
No Score Yet The Bestman
  • Actor
1999
72% The Best Man
  • Robin
1999
61% The Wood
  • Alicia
1999
50% Life
  • Daisy
1999
54% Blade
  • Vanessa
1998
No Score Yet Drive
  • Actor
1998
No Score Yet Miracle in the Woods
  • Lilly
1997

TV

RATING TITLE CREDIT
84% Boss
2011-2012
  • Mona Fredricks
No Score Yet Family Guy
1999
  • Voice
No Score Yet The Cleveland Show
2009-2013
  • Actor
  • Voice
No Score Yet Real Husbands of Hollywood
2013
  • Appearing
No Score Yet The Talk
2010
  • Guest
No Score Yet The Chew
2011
  • Guest
No Score Yet The View
1997
  • Guest
79% Nip/Tuck
2003-2010
  • Michelle Landau

Quotes from Sanaa Lathan's Characters