Sanaa Lathan
Birth Date:
September 19, 1971
Birth Place:
New York, New York, USA
University of California, Berkeley
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Sanaa Lathan_201213
Love & Basketball


American movie, television and stage actress Sanaa Lathan became famous and received a number of accolades after starring as the talented basketball player and girlfriend in the independent hit “Love & Basketball” (2000), opposite Omar Epps. The role won her a Black Reel Theatrical Award, an Image Award and a BET Award, as well as an Independent Spirit and NAACP Image nominations. Lathan also gained attention for her leading role opposite Wesley Snipes in the made for TV film “Disappearing Acts” (2000), and in 2004, she was handed an American Black Film Festival Award and a Black Reel Award after giving a strong turn as Denzel Washington’s sweetheart in Carl Franklin’s thriller movie “Out of Time” (2003). Other notable credits include “The Wood” (1999), “Catfish in Black Bean Sauce” (1999), “The Best Man” (1999, earned a NAACP Image nomination), “AVP: Alien Vs. Predator” (2004), “Something New” (2006), “The Family That Preys” (2008), “Powder Blue” (2009), “Wonderful World” (2009) and “Contagion” (2011). .     

On stage, Lathan made a name for herself with her role as the mercurial Beneatha Younger in the Broadway production of “A Raisin in the Sun” (2004), where she netted a Theatre World Award and a Tony nomination. She has also toiled in numerous productions, including “Measure for Measure” (2001, with Billy Crudup), “To Take Arms” and “Our Town.”  

Recently reprising her role as Robin in the 2013 sequel “The Best Man Holiday,” Lathan is scheduled to star in the upcoming films “Repentance” (2014) and “Macbett” (2014).

Outside the spotlight, the wide eyed shimmering beauty was named one of Ebony magazine’s “55 Most Beautiful People” (2000) and one of Variety magazine’s “Top 10 actresses to look out for in the year (2000). She is maybe well remembered for her romantic relationship with actor Omar Epps (born on July 23, 1973). The two began dating in 2000, after filming the 1999 “The Wood,” and reportedly parted ways as of March 2003. More personally, Lathan idolizes actress Meryl Streep and admires and respects Edward Norton. On her spare time, she enjoys hanging out at the beach and playing with Tarot cards.     


Childhood and Family:

On September 19, 1971, Sanaa McCoy Lathan was born in New York City, New York. Her first name means “Work of Art” or “Beauty” in Swahili and brilliance in Arabic. Her father, Stan Lathan, worked behind the scenes in TV for PBS as well as producer on shows like “Sanford & Son” and Russell Simmons' “Def Comedy Jam,”  while her mother, Eleanor McCoy, was a Broadway actress and dancer. One of five children, she has an older brother named Tendaji, a DJ, and three younger sisters, Liliane, Arielle and Colette. She took dance and gymnastics lessons as a child.

After her parents separated, young Sanaa divided her time between her father's home in Beverly Hills and her mother's in New York until she reached grade 10, when she remained a resident of New York to attend an art high school. She graduated with a BA in English from University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California in 1992 and received an MFA in acting from the Yale School of Drama.

A Raisin in the Sun


“I grew up in the business. My dad is a director/producer and my mom is a dancer, she performed with Alvin Ailey, but I didn’t even think about becoming an actress.” Sanaa Lathan

Sanaa Lathan did not consider acting as a career until graduating from the prestigious Yale School of Drama. While an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, she had stage experiences with the Black Theater Workshop, and carried on her love for stage in Yale by performing in numerous Shakespeare’s plays. Following the advice of her father, she moved to Los Angeles in 1996 to pursue a film career.    

Lathan soon guest starred in series like “In the House,” “Moesha” (both 1996) and “Family Matters” (1997), and appeared as the young version of Della Reese’s disturbed aged woman in the CBS drama “Miracle in the Woods” (1997). Still in 1997, she was a regular in the NBC short lived series “Built to Last” and landed her first film role in “Drive,” starring Mark Dacascos, Kadeem Hardison, John Pyper-Ferguson and Brittany Murphy. However, the action/adventure aired on HBO in place of theatrical release. The next year saw Lathan take on an episodic role in “NYPD Blue” before scoring a regular on an NBC show-within-a-show sitcom “Lateline,” where she portrayed a late-night news program booker named Brianna. The show ran between March 17, 1998 and December 25, 1999. Around the same periods, the trained stage actress won rave reviews and a Best Actress nomination from the Los Angeles NAACP Theatrical Award Committee for her fine performance in a production of “To Take Arms” and also portrayed Emily Webb in the 1998 South Coast Repertory production “Our Town.”

Trying to re-launch a movie career after an unsuccessful start in 1997, Lathan got some boost with a role opposite Wesley Snipes and Stephen Dorff in the vampire action film “Blade” (1998), where she played the mother of Snipes’ title character. She earned additional recognition in the following year when director Rick Famuyiwa had her play the adult incarnation of the protagonist’s teen love in the African-American ensemble “The Wood,” a  film that also marked Lathan’s first onscreen collaboration with her soon to be boyfriend, Omar Epps. It was followed by good performances in the multicultural comedy Catfish in “Black Bean Sauce” (1999), for which she received acclaim for a co-starring role opposite director-actor Chi Moui Lo, and in the comedic ensemble “The Best Man,” where she was handed a NAACP Image nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a motion picture for her portrayal of Robin, the sweet but strong girlfriend to Taye Diggs’a commitment-shy author. The same year, Lathan was featured as Eddie Murphy’s lover in the Ted Demme-helmed prison buddy comedy “Life.”

Lathan eventually delivered a big breakthrough when she rejoined Omar Epps for Gina Prince-Bythewood’s acclaimed romance/drama “Love & Basketball” (2000). As Monica Wright, a gifted athlete who falls for a childhood friend and fellow basketball star (Omar Epps), Lathan was so excellent that she was handed several awards, such as an Image for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, a Black Reel Theatrical for Best Actress and a BET for Best Actress in the motion picture. Additionally, the recipient of the 2001 Acapulco Black Film Festival Rising Star Award was nominated for Best Female Lead at the Independent Spirit Award and at the NAACP Image Award, as well as for Film - Choice Chemistry at the Teen Choice Awards (sharing with Epps).  

Lathan combined the massive success with the notable portrayal of an aspiring singer/songwriter involved with a carpenter (played by Wesley Snipes) in the television adaptation of Terry McMillan’s “Disappearing Acts” (2000), again directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood. For her efforts, Lathan received a Black Reel nomination for Network/Cable - Best Actress

Lathan’s movie career took flight following her performance in “Love & Basketball.” She then was cast opposite “The Best Man” co-star Taye Diggs in another Rick Famuyiwa film, “Brown Sugar” (2002), a romance/comedy that also featured Mos Def, offered a high profile supporting turn opposite Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington in the thriller “Out of Time” (2003) for director Carl Franklin. Playing Washington’s high school girlfriend, with whom he becomes involved in a traitorous affair in the latter film, she won an American Black Film Festival for Best Performance by an Actress and a Black Reel for Best Actress. Her next major Hollywood film was the anticipated sci-fi gore-fest “Alien Vs. Predator” (2004), where she starred alongside Raoul Bova and Lance Henriksen.

Amid work on films, Lathan continued her hectic stage schedule. In the summer of 2001, she had a lead with Billy Crudup in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s Central Park production of “Measure for Measure.” Her stage work gained much recognition when she teamed up with Sean Combs and Phyllicia Rashad in the Broadway revival of “A Raisin in the Sun” (2004), where she played the mercurial Beneatha Younger. Her performance was critically applauded, and Lathan won a 2004 Theatre World and a Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play.

The talented performer returned to the cinematic industry in 2006 with the romance/ comedy “Something New,” where she co-starred with Katharine Towne, Simon Baker and Stanley DeSantis. The same year, she joined the cast of the FX hit drama “Nip/Tuck” for its  fourth season in the role of Michelle Landau. She next reprised her Broadway role of Beneatha Younger for the television version of “A Raisin in the Sun” (2008), which was  directed by Kenny Leon, starred with Kathy Bates and Alfre Woodard in Tyler Perry's “The Family That Preys” (2008), supported Jessica Biel, Eddie Redmayne and Forest Whitaker in the drama film “Powder Blue” (2009) and starred as Khadi in the drama/romance “Wonderful World” (2009), opposite Matthew Broderick and Michael K. Williams. She also appeared with  Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and Jude Law in the drama film “Contagion” (2011). Since 2009, Lathan has provided the voice of Donna Tubbs on “The Cleveland Show.” She also voiced Donna Tubbs in episodes of “Family Guy” between 2010 and 2012.

In 2012, Lathan jointed the cast of Starz' original series “Boss” in its second season in the regular role of Mona Fredricks. Co-stars in the series included Kelsey Grammer, Connie Nielsen, Hannah Ware, Jeff Hephner and Kathleen Robertson.

In 2013, Lathan reprised her role as Robin in the Christmas comedy/drama film “The Best Man Holiday,” a sequel to the 1999 film, “The Best Man.” Directed and written by Malcolm D. Lee, the film received mostly positive reviews from critics and was a box office hit.  

Lathan will play Maggie in the upcoming horror/thriller film “Repentance,” which is set to be released on February 28, 2014. She will portray Lady Macbett in “Macbett” (2014), a modern day adaptation of William Shakespeare's play of the same name.


Theatre World: A Raisin in the Sun, 2004
Black Reel: Best Actress, “Out of Time,” 2004
American Black Film Festival: Best Performance by an Actress, “Out of Time,” 2004
Acapulco Black Film Festival: Rising Star Award, 2001
BET: Best Actress in the motion picture, “Love & Basketball,” 2001
Black Reel: Best Actress, “Love & Basketball,” 2001
Image: Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, “Love & Basketball,” 2001,  Show Less
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Sanaa Lathan Punched In Fake Belly On Set Of The Best Man Holiday
SP_COP - November 14, 2013 -
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