Sanaa Lathan (1971- )

Sanna McCoy Lathan at the 2011 Comic Con in San Diego
Sanna McCoy Lathan at the 2011 Comic Con in San Diego
Courtesy of Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED)

Sanaa McCoy Lathan is an actress best known for her early roles in 1990’s television shows such as In The House and the movie Blade. Lathan was born on September 19, 1971, in New York City, New York. Her father is television and film producer Stan Lathan, and her mother is the Broadway and television actress Eleanor McCoy. She has four siblings.  

Lathan has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Berkeley, California, and an MFA from Yale University, where she studied under the renowned acting teacher Earle R. Gister. After college, she relocated to Los Angeles, California, and immediately found roles in television shows such as Family Matters (1989-1998) and Moesha (1996-2001). 

In 1997 Lathan made her film debut in the part of Carolyn Body in the movie Drive. She starred in several movies over the next decade, including Life (with Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy), Catfish in Black Bean Sauce (with Paul Winfield, Chi Muoi, and Mary Alice), The Wood (Omar Epps, Taye Diggs, and Richard T. Jones), The Best Man (with an ensemble cast, including Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Monica Calhoun, Melissa DeSousa, and Harold Perrineau Jr.), and a lead role in Alien vs Predator. 

The Best Man is one of history’s top ten highest-grossing African American films. Alien vs Predator grossed over $171 million worldwide. The debut grossed $38.2 million. In 2000 Lathan reunited with her co-star from The Wood, Omar Epps, in the movie Love & Basketball. Lathan also worked on a number of made-for-TV movies and plays, including starring as Beneatha Younger in a 2004 adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In The Sun on Broadway, a role she later reprised for the ABC network in 2008. Other theater work includes Eve Ensler’s, The Vagina Monologues (September 2000, Broadway) and William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure at the Delacorte Theater in 2004. In 2009, she appeared with an all-Black cast in London’s West End playing the part of “Maggie” in Tennessee Williams’ Cat On a Hot Tin Roof at the Novello Theater.

In 2022 Lathan made her directorial debut with the film adaptation of Angie Thomas’ novel On The Come Up, which previewed at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2022. The same year she reprised her role as Robyn Stewart in the mini-series The Best Man: The Final Chapters, created by Malcolm D. Lee and produced by David Bausch and Cameron Johnson.

Off camera, Lathan has performed as a voice-over artist in animated shows such as The Cleveland Show and Family Guy as Donna Tubbs. She also lends her voice as the lead character in the DC animated show Harley Quinn. Lathan’s character Alexa “Lex” Woods from the movie Alien vs. Predator, is featured in Zen Pinball 2 and Pinball FX 2 & 3 video games.

Lathan has been nominated for dozens of awards and has won several, including a BET and Black Reel Award for Best Actress and NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture (Love & Basketball).