Sanaa Lathan

Sanaa Lathan
Sanaa Lathan by Gage Skidmore 4.jpg
Lathan at the 2011 Comic Con
Sanaa McCoy Lathan

(1971-09-19) September 19, 1971 (age 49)
EducationUniversity of California, Berkeley (BA)
Yale University (MFA)
OccupationActress, voice actress
Years active1996–present
Parent(s)Stan Lathan
Eleanor McCoy

Sanaa McCoy Lathan[1] (born September 19, 1971)[1] is an American actress. As a voice actress, from 2009 to 2013, she voiced Donna Tubbs in The Cleveland Show and in all concurrent and subsequent Family Guy appearances. She has starred in many films, including The Best Man (1999) and its 2013 sequel, The Best Man Holiday. Her other film credits include Love & Basketball (2000), Brown Sugar (2002), Alien vs. Predator (2004), Something New (2006), The Family That Preys (2008), Contagion (2011), and Now You See Me 2 (2016).

On stage, Lathan was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance on Broadway in A Raisin in the Sun and starred in 2010 in the all-black performance of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Novello Theatre in London.[2]

Early life

Lathan was born in New York City.[1] Her first name means "art" in Swahili[3] and "piece of art" in Arabic. Her mother, Eleanor McCoy, was also an actress and dancer[1] 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 well known DJ. She attended Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics.

She graduated from UC Berkeley, with a bachelor's degree in English. Lathan then attended Yale University, and earned a master's degree in drama.[4]


Following her training at Yale, where she studied with Earle R. Gister and performed in a number of Shakespeare plays, Lathan earned acclaim both off-Broadway and on the Los Angeles stage. Encouraged by her father to make Los Angeles her professional base, she found early television roles in episodes of such shows as In the House, Family Matters, NYPD Blue, and Moesha.[1]

Lathan at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Wonderful World

In 1998, Lathan earned a degree of recognition with her role as the mother of Wesley Snipes' title character in Blade.[5] 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.[6] 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.[5]

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.[7] 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.[8]

In 2001, Lathan earned additional acclaim for her work in the multicultural comedy film Catfish in Black Bean Sauce.[9] Next was her second collaboration with Prince-Bythewood: Disappearing Acts; it is based on a novel by Terry McMillan.[10] 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.[11] 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 an ABC Network production of A Raisin in the Sun.[12]

In 2003, she co-starred with Denzel Washington in Out of Time.[13] The following year, she was cast in the lead role in Alien vs. Predator.[14] The film was a major success grossing over $171 million worldwide.[15]

In 2006, she co-starred with Simon Baker in Something New, a romantic comedy;[16] as Michelle Landau, the much younger wife of a Texas businessman (Larry Hagman) during the fourth season of the television series, Nip/Tuck;[17] 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.[18] 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 to her black man or her guilt about stepping outside of the race."[19]

In 2009, Lathan co-starred with Matthew Broderick in the drama Wonderful World.[20] From 2009 to 2013, she voiced the character Donna Tubbs on The Cleveland Show.[21] 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 with Anthony Mackie and Forest Whitaker in Repentance, a psychological thriller directed by Phillipe Caland.[22] Lathan played series regular Mona Fredricks in the second season of Starz' original series Boss, starring Kelsey Grammer.

In 2013, Lathan reprised her role in The Best Man′s sequel, The Best Man Holiday.[23] In 2016, she was cast with the ensemble of the sequel of Now You See Me entitled Now You See Me 2, which was a box-office success, and she was cast in the Sci Fi movie Approaching the Unknown. In 2017, Lathan returned to TV in a lead role in the series Shots Fired, and also appeared in the movie American Assassin. Lathan was then added to the main cast of The Affair, appearing in its fourth and fifth seasons, and starred in the Netflix film Nappily Ever After.


1997Miracle in the WoodsYoung Lilly
1997DriveCarolyn Brody
1998BladeVanessa Brooks
1999The WoodAlicia
1999The Best ManRobyn
1999Catfish in Black Bean SauceNina
2000Love & BasketballMonica Wright
2002Brown SugarSidney "Sid" Shaw
2003Out of TimeAnn Merai Harrison
2004Alien vs. PredatorAlexa "Lex" Woods
2005The Golden BlazeMonica (voice)
2006Something NewKenya McQueen
2008The Family That PreysAndrea Pratt-Bennett
2009Wonderful WorldKhadi
2009Powder BlueDiana
2011ContagionAubrey Cheever
2013The Best Man HolidayRobyn Stewart
2013RepentanceMaggie Carter
2015The Perfect GuyLeah VaughnAlso executive producer
2016Approaching the UnknownCaptain Emily Maddox
2016Now You See Me 2Natalie Austin
2017American AssassinDeputy Director Irene Kennedy
2018Nappily Ever AfterViolet JonesAlso producer
2019Native SonTrudy Thomas
TBAPost-production; Also director
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–presentFamily GuyDonna Tubbs (voice)Recurring role (season 8–13)
Regular role (season 14–present)
2011TildaSasha LittUnsold HBO pilot
2012BossMona FredricksRegular role
2014Real Husbands of HollywoodHerselfEpisode: Rolling with my Roomie
2017Shots FiredAshe AkinoLead role; 10 episodes
2018–2019The AffairJanelleRegular role (season 4–5)
2019The Twilight ZoneNina HarrisonEpisode: "Replay"
2020Harley QuinnSelina Kyle / Catwoman (voice)Recurring role (3 episodes)
2021The Best Man: The Final ChaptersRobynRecurring role (10 episodes)

Awards and nominations

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
2016The Perfect GuyNAACP Image AwardOutstanding Actress in a Motion PictureWon
2019Nappily Ever AfterNAACP Image AwardOutstanding Actress in a Motion PictureNominated
2019The AffairNAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesNominated


  1. ^ a b c d e McCann, Bob (2009). Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television. McFarland. ISBN 9780786458042. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  2. ^ "Sanaa Lathan Joins Jones and Rashad in West End Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"
  3. ^ ""sanaa" in English". Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  4. ^ Lathan, Sanaa (June 1, 2007). "A Tribute to Dad's Direction". Ebony.
  5. ^ a b "Sanaa Lathan- Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  6. ^ Blackman, Lori (December 13, 2000). "Sanaa Lathan". CNN. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  7. ^ Moore, Roger (April 21, 2000). "Sanaa Lathan's Got Game With Role In Basketball Film". Orlando sentinel. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  8. ^ "Sanaa Lathan Joins Jones and Rashad in West End Cat on a Hot Tin Roof". June 3, 2009. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  9. ^ Thomas, Kevin (June 9, 2000). "Catfish in Black Bean Sauce". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  10. ^ LaSalle, Mick (December 8, 2000). "An Intelligent Woman In Incredible 'Acts' / Sanaa Lathan stars as a struggling artist". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  11. ^ "Brown Sugar (2002)". The New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  12. ^ Juarez, Vanessa (April 10, 2008). "'A Raisin in the Sun' Roundtable". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  13. ^ "Out of Time". IMDb. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  14. ^ "Alien Vs Predator: Interview with Lance Henriksen & Sanaa Lathan". August 11, 2004. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  15. ^ "Alien Vs. Predator". Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  16. ^ ""Something New" (2006)". Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  17. ^ Slezak, Michael (June 1, 2006). "'Nip/Tuck': Sanaa Lathan, Rosie join the cast". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  18. ^ Holden, Stephen (September 12, 2008). "Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys (2008)". The New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  19. ^ "Something New for Actress Sanaa Lathan". NPR. February 6, 2006.
  20. ^ "SANAA LATHAN'S WONDERFUL WORLD". Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  21. ^ "Voices of Donna-tubbs Brown". Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  22. ^ "Forest Whitaker To Star In Voodoo Horror Flick Vipaka With Anthony Mackie". August 3, 2011. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  23. ^ "Terrence Howard And Sanaa Lathan Dish On 'The Best Man Holiday'". NPR. Retrieved May 24, 2018.

External links