Sanaa Lathan
Lathan at the 2011 Comic Con
Sanaa McCoy Lathan

(1971-09-19) September 19, 1971 (age 51)
EducationUniversity of California, Berkeley (BA)
Yale University (MFA)
Years active1996–present
Parent(s)Stan Lathan
Eleanor McCoy

Sanaa McCoy Lathan[1] (/səˈnɑː ˈlθən/;[2] born September 19, 1971)[1] is an American actress. She is the daughter of actress Eleanor McCoy and film director Stan Lathan. Her career began after she appeared in the shows In the House, Family Matters, NYPD Blue, and Moesha. Lathan later garnered further prominence after starring in the 1998 superhero film Blade; which followed with film roles in The Best Man (1999), Love & Basketball (2000), Disappearing Acts (2000), and Brown Sugar (2002).

In 2004, Lathan's performance in the Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun, earned her a nomination at the Tony Awards for Best Featured Actress in a Play. Following this, she played the role of Alexa "Lex" Woods in the movie Alien vs. Predator. In 2008, she landed a leading role in film The Family That Preys by Tyler Perry. Lathan returned to theatre work in 2010, starring in the all-black performance of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Novello Theatre in London.[3] She reprised her role as Robyn in the Christmas-themed sequel of The Best Man, in The Best Man Holiday (2013). In 2022, she received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, for her work on the television series Succession.[4]

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, as well as Catwoman on Harley Quinn. Her other notable film credits include Out of Time (2003), Something New (2006), Wonderful World (2009), Contagion (2011), Repentance (2013), The Perfect Guy (2015), and Now You See Me 2 (2016). Lathan also made her directorial debut with the film On the Come Up in 2022.

Early life

Lathan was born in New York City.[1] 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 as well as Beverly Hills High School.

Lathan's adolescence was a tough period. She has stated she was a latchkey kid whose parents weren't around much. As a result, she was left with relatives who happened to suffer from drug abuse. However, she went on to develop a solid relationship with her parents in the ensuing years.[5]

She graduated from University of California, Berkeley, with a bachelor's degree in English. She then attended Yale University and earned a master's degree in drama.[6]


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.[7] The following year she appeared in Life with Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy and did back-to-back turns in The Best Man and The Wood. The Best Man, a comedy-drama ensemble film starring Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Harold Perrineau Jr. and Morris Chestnut,[8] was 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 Epps' the love interest.[7]

Lathan and Epps were reunited onscreen in Gina Prince-Bythewood's Love & Basketball, this time as a couple as passionate about basketball as they are about each other.[9] Her performance earned Lathan the 2001 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actress, and a BET Award. In 2000, she appeared in the Off-Broadway production of The Vagina Monologues with Teri Garr and Julianna Margulies.[10]

In 2001, Lathan earned 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, based on a novel by Terry McMillan.[12] In the HBO film, she played an aspiring singer/songwriter in love with a carpenter, played by her Blade co-star Wesley Snipes. For her work in the film, she 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 with 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 2003 she co-starred with Denzel Washington in Out of Time.[14]

In 2004, Lathan starred on Broadway in A Raisin in the Sun with Sean Combs, Audra McDonald, and Phylicia Rashad, and received a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actress for her portrayal of Beneatha Younger. She reprised the role in ABC Network's 2008 film adaptation.[15]

Lathan at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International

The same year, she was given the lead role in Alien vs. Predator.[16] It was a major success, grossing over $171 million worldwide.[17] With this role she held onto a 15-year record for biggest opening weekend for a film starring a Black woman, debuting with $38.2 million.[18]

In 2006, she co-starred with Simon Baker in the romantic comedy Something New,[19] and as Michelle Landau, the much younger wife of a Texas businessman (Larry Hagman) in the fourth season of the television series Nip/Tuck.[20] She played Andrea in Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys, also starting Alfre Woodard and Kathy Bates, released in the U.S. on September 12, 2008.[21]

In 2009, Lathan co-starred with Matthew Broderick in the drama Wonderful World.[22] From 2009 to 2013, she voiced the character Donna Tubbs on The Cleveland Show.[23] In 2011, Lathan co-starred in the Steven Soderbergh thriller Contagion with Matt Damon, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne. In 2011, she starred with Anthony Mackie and Forest Whitaker in Repentance, a psychological thriller directed by Phillipe Caland.[24] She 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.[25] In 2016, she was cast in the ensemble of the sequel of Now You See Me, entitled Now You See Me 2, which was a box-office success; and in the sci-fi movie Approaching the Unknown. In 2017, she returned to TV in a lead role in the series Shots Fired, and also appeared in the movie American Assassin. She 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.

In January 2021, it was announced that she was cast in season 3 of Succession as a Lisa Arthur, a high profile, well-connected New York lawyer earning her an Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.

In 2021, she was announced as directing the film adaptation of Angie Thomas's novel On the Come Up.[26] The film is slated to premiere at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.[27]



Year Title Role Notes
1997 Drive Carolyn Brody
1998 Blade Vanessa Brooks
1999 Life Daisy
Catfish in Black Bean Sauce Nina
The Wood Alicia
The Best Man Robyn
2000 Love & Basketball Monica Wright
The Smoker Roxanne Short
2002 Brown Sugar Sidney "Sid" Shaw
2003 Out of Time Ann Merai Harrison
2004 Alien vs. Predator Alexa "Lex" Woods Based on Machiko Noguchi
2005 The Golden Blaze Monica (voice) Video
2006 Something New Kenya Denise McQueen
2008 The Family That Preys Andrea Pratt-Bennett
2009 Wonderful World Khadi
Powder Blue Diana
2011 Contagion Aubrey Cheever
2013 Repentance Maggie Carter
The Best Man Holiday Robyn Stewart
2015 The Perfect Guy Leah Vaughn Also Executive Producer
2016 Now You See Me 2 FBI Deputy Director Natalie Austin
Approaching the Unknown Emily Maddox
2017 American Assassin CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy
2018 Nappily Ever After Violet Jones Also Producer
2019 Native Son Trudy Thomas
2021 With/In: Volume 1 Segment: "Leap"; Also Director
2022 On The Come Up Jayda "Jay" Jackson Also Director
2023 Young. Wild. Free. Janice Huffman Also Executive Producer
TBA The Supremes At Earl's All-You-Can-Eat Barbara Jean Post Production


Year Title Role Notes
1996 In the House Charese Episode: "The Curse of Hill House"
Moesha Ebony Episodes: "A Concerted Effort" (Parts 1 & 2)
1997 Family Matters Allison Episode: "Revenge of the Nerd"
Built to Last Linda Episode: "Pilot"
Miracle in the Woods Young Lilly TV movie
1998 NYPD Blue Shirley Barish Episode: "You're Under a Rasta"
1998–1999 LateLine Briana Gilliam Main cast
2000 Disappearing Acts Zora Banks TV movie
2006 Nip/Tuck Michelle Landau Recurring cast (season 4)
2008 A Raisin in the Sun Beneatha Younger TV movie
2009–2013 The Cleveland Show Donna Tubbs (voice) Main cast
2010–present Family Guy Donna Tubbs (voice) Recurring cast (season 8–)
2011 Tilda Sasha Litt TV movie
2012 Boss Mona Fredricks Main cast (season 2)
2014 Real Husbands of Hollywood Herself Episode: "Rolling with My Roomie"
2015 Punk'd Herself Episode: "Sanaa Lathan & Trey Songz"
2017 Shots Fired Ashe Akino Main cast
2018–2019 The Affair Janelle Main cast (season 4–5)
2019 The Twilight Zone Nina Harrison Episode: "Replay"
2020–present Harley Quinn Selina Kyle / Catwoman (voice) Recurring cast (season 2–3)
2021 Solos Nia (voice) Episode: "Sasha"
Hit & Run Naomi Hicks Main cast
Succession Lisa Arthur Recurring cast (season 3)
2022 The Best Man: The Final Chapters Robyn Stewart Main cast

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2014 Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff Donna Tubbs (voice)
2016 Alexa "Lex" Woods (voice) Zen Pinball 2
Pinball FX 2
Pinball FX 3

Music videos

Year Title Artist Role Ref.
2014 "Imagine" (UNICEF: World version) Various Herself [28]

Awards and nominations

Year Nominated work Award Category Result
2000 The Best Man NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
2001 Love & Basketball BET Award Best Actress Won
2001 Love & Basketball Independent Spirit Awards Best Female Lead Nominated
2001 Love & Basketball Black Reel Award Best Actress Won
2001 Disappearing Acts Black Reel Award Best Actress Nominated
2001 Love & Basketball NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Won
2003 Brown Sugar NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
2003 Brown Sugar Black Reel Award Best Actress Nominated
2003 A Raisin in the Sun Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Play Nominated
2004 Out of Time Black Reel Award Best Actress Won
2004 Out of Time NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
2004 A Raisin in the Sun Theatre World Award Best Female Lead Won
2006 Something New Black Movie Awards Best Actress Nominated
2006 Something New Black Reel Award Best Actress Nominated
2007 Something New NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
2007 Nip/Tuck NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
2008 The Family That Preys Black Reel Award Best Actress Nominated
2009 A Raisin in the Sun NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie/Mini-Series Nominated
2012 By The Way, Meet Vera Stark Lucille Lortel Awards Outstanding Lead Actress Won
2012 By The Way, Meet Vera Stark Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Play Nominated
2016 The Perfect Guy NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Won
2019 Nappily Ever After NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
2019 The Affair NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
2022 Succession Black Reel Award Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Won
2022 Succession Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series[4] Nominated
2023 The Best Man: The Final Chapters NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Limited–Series or Dramatic Special Nominated


  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. ^ "Emmy-nominated Sanaa Lathan Plays That's So Random". The Root. September 26, 2022. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  3. ^ "Sanaa Lathan Joins Jones and Rashad in West End Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"
  4. ^ a b D'Aless, Anthony; ro (July 13, 2022). "Paramount Players Movie 'On The Come Up' From 'Succession' Emmy Nominee Sanaa Lathan To Make TIFF World Premiere". Deadline. Retrieved July 13, 2022.
  5. ^ "Sanaa Lathan Meditate on This". Spotify.
  6. ^ Lathan, Sanaa (June 1, 2007). "A Tribute to Dad's Direction". Ebony.
  7. ^ a b "Sanaa Lathan- Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  8. ^ Blackman, Lori (December 13, 2000). "Sanaa Lathan". CNN. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  9. ^ Moore, Roger (April 21, 2000). "Sanaa Lathan's Got Game With Role In Basketball Film". Orlando sentinel. Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  10. ^ "Sanaa Lathan Joins Jones and Rashad in West End Cat on a Hot Tin Roof". June 3, 2009. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "Brown Sugar (2002)". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2008. Archived from the original on January 16, 2008. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  14. ^ "Out of Time". IMDb. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  15. ^ Juarez, Vanessa (April 10, 2008). "'A Raisin in the Sun' Roundtable". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  16. ^ "Alien Vs Predator: Interview with Lance Henriksen & Sanaa Lathan". August 11, 2004. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  17. ^ "Alien Vs. Predator". Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  18. ^ admin (March 27, 2019). "Lupita Nyong'o Leads 'Us' to Biggest Opening Weekend Ever for a Black Woman". Colorlines. Retrieved December 8, 2022.
  19. ^ ""Something New" (2006)". Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  20. ^ Slezak, Michael (June 1, 2006). "'Nip/Tuck': Sanaa Lathan, Rosie join the cast". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  21. ^ Holden, Stephen (September 12, 2008). "Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys (2008)". The New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  22. ^ "SANAA LATHAN'S WONDERFUL WORLD". Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  23. ^ "Voices of Donna-tubbs Brown". Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  24. ^ "Forest Whitaker To Star In Voodoo Horror Flick Vipaka With Anthony Mackie". August 3, 2011. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  25. ^ "Terrence Howard And Sanaa Lathan Dish On 'The Best Man Holiday'". NPR. Retrieved May 24, 2018.
  26. ^ D’Alessandro, Anthony (June 10, 2021). "Sanaa Lathan To Make Feature Directorial Debut With Paramount Players' 'On The Come Up'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 10, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  27. ^ "‘Succession’ actress Sanaa Lathan’s ‘On The Come Up’ to debut at TIFF". Toronto Star, July 13, 2022.
  28. ^ Rowles, Dustin (November 21, 2014). "'Imagine' Gets the Star-Studded 'We Are The World' Treatment for UNICEF". Pajiba. Archived from the original on April 15, 2021. Retrieved May 24, 2021.