Sanaa Lathan

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Sanaa Lathan
Sanaa Lathan Comic-Con 2011.jpg
BornSanaa McCoy Lathan
(1971-09-19) September 19, 1971 (age 43)[1]
New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Yale School of Drama
OccupationActress, voice actress
Years active1996–present
ParentsStan Lathan
Eleanor McCoy
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Sanaa Lathan
Sanaa Lathan Comic-Con 2011.jpg
BornSanaa McCoy Lathan
(1971-09-19) September 19, 1971 (age 43)[1]
New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Yale School of Drama
OccupationActress, voice actress
Years active1996–present
ParentsStan Lathan
Eleanor McCoy

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 black 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, Lathan 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] 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]

In 2001, Lathan earned additional acclaim for her work in the multicultural comedy film 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 film, 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. 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 film, 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]

In 2003, she co-starred with Denzel Washington in Out of Time.[15] The following year, she was cast in the lead role in Alien vs. Predator.[16] The film was a major success grossing over $171 million worldwide.[17]

Lathan acted in several 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 Landa, 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] From 2009–2013, she voiced the character Donna Tubbs on The Cleveland Show.[23]

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 Repentance, 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
1997Miracle in the WoodsYoung Lilly
1997DriveCarolyn Brody
1998BladeVanessa Brooks
1999The WoodAlicia
1999The Best ManRobin
1999Catfish in Black Bean SauceNina
2000Love & BasketballMonica Wright
2002Brown SugarSidney "Sid" Shaw
2003Out of TimeAnn Merai Harrison
2004Alien vs. PredatorAlexa Woods
2005The Golden BlazeMonica (voice)Direct-to-video film
2006Something NewKenya McQueen
2008The Family That PreysAndrea Pratt-Bennett
2009Wonderful WorldKhadi
2009Powder BlueDiana
2011ContagionAubrey Cheever
2013The Best Man HolidayRobin
2014RepentanceMaggie Carter
2015The Perfect GuyLeah Vaughn
2016The Best Man WeddingRobinIn production
2016Now You See Me: The Second ActNatalie AustinFilming
1996In the HouseChareseEpisode: "The Curse of Hill House"
1996MoeshaEbonyEpisodes: "A Concerted Effort" (Parts 1 & 2)
1997Family MattersAllisonEpisode: "Revenge of the Nerd"
1998NYPD BlueShirley BarishEpisode: "You're Under a Rasta"
1998–1999LateLineBriana GilliamRegular role
2000Disappearing ActsZora BanksTelevision film
2006Nip/TuckMichelle LandauRecurring role
2008A Raisin in the SunBeneatha YoungerTelevision film
2009–2013The Cleveland ShowDonna Tubbs (voice)Regular role
2010–2014Family GuyDonna Tubbs (voice)4 episodes
2011TildaSasha LittUnsold HBO pilot
2012BossMona FredricksRegular role

Awards and nominations[edit]

YearNominated workAwardCategoryResult
2001Love & BasketballBET AwardBest ActressWon
2001Love & BasketballIndependent Spirit AwardsBest Female LeadNominated
2001Love & BasketballBlack Reel AwardBest ActressWon
2001Disappearing ActsBlack Reel AwardBest ActressNominated
2001Love & BasketballNAACP Image AwardOutstanding Actress in a Motion PictureWon
2003Brown SugarNAACP Image AwardOutstanding Actress in a Motion PictureNominated
2003Brown SugarBlack Reel AwardBest ActressNominated
2003A Raisin in the SunTony AwardBest Featured Actress in a PlayNominated
2004Out of TimeBlack Reel AwardBest ActressWon
2004Out of TimeNAACP Image AwardOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion PictureNominated
2004A Raisin in the SunTheatre World AwardBest Female LeadWon
2006Something NewBlack Movie AwardsBest ActressNominated
2006Something NewBlack Reel AwardBest ActressNominated
2007Something NewNAACP Image AwardOutstanding Actress in a Motion PictureNominated
2007Nip/TuckNAACP Image AwardOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesNominated
2008The Family That PreysBlack Reel AwardBest ActressNominated
2009A Raisin in the SunNAACP Image AwardOutstanding Actress in a Television Movie/Mini-SeriesNominated
2012By The Way, Meet Vera StarkLucille Lortel AwardsOutstanding Lead ActressWon
2012By The Way, Meet Vera StarkDrama Desk AwardOutstanding Actress in a PlayNominated


  1. ^ Rebecca Flint Marx (2009). McCoy-Lathan Caples/ "Sanaa McCoy Lathan Caples: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. ^ "Out of Time". Internet Movie database. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  16. ^ "Alien Vs Predator: Interview with Lance Henriksen & Sanaa Lathan". 08-11-2004. Retrieved 16 April 2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  17. ^ "Alien Vs. Predator". 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. 

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