Sanaa Lathan is an American actor and the daughter of actor Eleanor McCoy and director Stan Lathan. Although her parents divorced later, they were both very close to her and encouraged her to make a career in the entertainment industry. She started her career with appearances in TV serials such as ‘NYPD Blue’ and ‘Family Matters’ when she was still in college. After earning her master’s degree in drama from ‘Yale University,’ she played her first major role as a mother in the horror movie ‘Blade.’ She is best known for her role alongside Omar Epps in the romantic drama ‘Love & Basketball.’ Epps was then her real-life boyfriend. Her performance in the ‘Broadway’ play ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ was appreciated. Her role was reprised in an ‘ABC’ production. She has also appeared in the thriller ‘Out of Time’ and the science-fiction film ‘Alien vs. Predator.’ She gained recognition for her role opposite Simon Baker in the romantic comedy ‘Something New.’ Although she has been romantically linked with a number of celebrities, she is officially single. She is in the prime of her career and has a bright future to look forward to.
Childhood & Early Life
Sanaa Lathan was born on September 19, 1971, in New York City, New York, US, to actor and dancer Eleanor McCoy and director and producer Stan Lathan. Her brother, Tendaji Lathan, grew up to become a well-known DJ. Her parents later divorced, but she remained close to both of them. She was raised partly in Beverly Hills with her father and partly in New York with her mother.
She was a natural athlete and trained in gymnastics and dance at a young age. She was also exposed to the entertainment industry due to her parents. She performed in a number of plays with the ‘Black Theatre Workshop’ in her younger days.
She studied at the ‘Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics’ and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from the ‘University of California, Berkeley.’ She then completed her master’s degree in drama from ‘Yale University.’
She appeared in a number of Shakespearean plays during her ‘Yale University’ days. She was encouraged by her father to take up roles in TV serials such as ‘In the House,’ ‘NYPD Blue,’ and ‘Family Matters.’ She finally moved to California to boost her acting career.
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In her early days, Nathan ventured into both ‘Off-Broadway’ shows and the Los Angeles stage circle. Her role as a mother in the 1998 superhero horror movie ‘Blade’ earned her positive reviews. She was nominated for a ‘National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Award’ the following year for her performance in the romantic comedy ‘The Best Man.’ The film was one of the top 10 highest-grossing African–American movies.
She made a major breakthrough in her career when she starred alongside Omar Epps in the romantic drama ‘Love & Basketball’ in 2000. She won the ‘NAACP Image Award’ for ‘Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture’ for her role as the love interest of Epps. She made an ‘Off-Broadway’ appearance in the play ‘The Vagina Monologues’ during the same period.
In 2001, she was cast in the multicultural comedy movie ‘Catfish in Black Bean Sauce.’ This was closely followed by her role as an aspiring singer and songwriter in the movie ‘Disappearing Acts.’
She performed in the ‘Broadway’ play ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ in 2004 and later reprised her role in an ‘ABC’ TV production of the play. She also appeared in the thriller ‘Out of Time’ and the science-fiction movie ‘Alien vs. Predator.’ The latter grossed over $171 million worldwide.
Her role in the romantic comedy ‘Something New,’ involving an interracial relationship with Simon Baker, made her popular and earned her many similar roles. She co-starred with Matthew Broderick in the dark comedy–drama ‘Wonderful World’ in 2009.
Lathan then played the role of ‘Leah Vaughn’ in the 2015 romantic thriller ‘The Perfect Guy.’ She was also the executive producer of the film. She has also produced and acted in the romantic comedy ‘Nappily Ever After.’
She has appeared as herself in the reality TV parody ‘Real Husbands of Hollywood’ and several other series. Lately, she has been seen in the drama series ‘Shots Fired’ and ‘The Affair.’
Some of her noteworthy movies are ‘Blade’ (1998), ‘The Best Man’ (1999), ‘Love & Basketball’ (2000), ‘Brown Sugar’ (2002), ‘Out of Time’ (2003), ‘Alien vs. Predator’ (2004), ‘Something New’ (2006), ‘The Family That Preys’ (2008), ‘The Perfect Guy’ (2015, ‘Approaching the Unknown’ (2016), ‘American Assassin’ (2016), and ‘Nappily Ever After’ (2018).
Some of her notable TV projects are ‘In the House’ (1996), ‘Family Matters’ (1997), ‘NYPD Blue’ (1998), ‘Late Line’ (1998–1999), ‘Disappearing Acts’ (2000), ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ (2008), ‘The Cleveland Show’ (2009–2013), ‘Family Guy’ (2010–present), ‘Real Husbands of Hollywood’ (2014), and ‘The Affair’ (2018).
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Awards & Achievements
She won the ‘BET Award’ and the ‘Black Reel Award’ for the ‘Best Actress’ for her performance in ‘Love & Basketball.’ She also won the ‘NAACP Image Award’ for ‘Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture’ for the same role.
She received the ‘Best Actress’ award at the ‘Black Reel Awards’ ceremony for her role in ‘Out of Time.’
Her performance in ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ won her the ‘Theatre World Award’ for the ‘Best Female Lead.’ She earned the ‘Lucille Lortel Award’ for ‘Outstanding Lead Actress’ for her performance in ‘By the Way, Meet Vera Stark.’
She won the ‘NAACP Image Award’ for ‘Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture’ for her role in ‘The Perfect Guy.’
Sanaa Lathan is currently believed to be single. She has dated co-star Omar Epp and former ‘National Basketball Association’ (NBA) player Adewale Ogunleye, among others, in the past.
She loves animals and has three dogs that keep her company.
Sanaa Lathan was named one of the “55 Most Beautiful People” by ‘Ebony,’ a popular monthly magazine, in 2001. She was honored by ‘Essence,’ another monthly magazine, and ‘Black Entertainment Television’ the following year.
Her name means “work of art” in Swahili.
She gained 20 pounds for her role in the TV movie ‘Disappearing Acts.’
She has lent her voice for the character ‘Donna Tubbs’ on ‘The Cleveland Show’.