Sanaa McCoy Lathan (born September 19, 1971 in New York City) is an American actress and one of the most recognizable black female performers in the United States.
She's best known for her leading role as Monica Wright in Love & Basketball, starring opposite Omar Epps, and also for her role as Sidney in Brown Sugar opposite Taye Diggs. She has also appeared on television, previously in sitcom roles and most notably as Michelle Landau in Nip/Tuck, and she has also performed voice-acting work (most famously as Donna Tubbs on The Cleveland Show) and has theatrical experience.
- Blade (1998)
- Life (1999)
- The Best Man (1999)
- The Wood (1999, cameo role)
- Catfish in Black Bean Sauce (1999)
- Love & Basketball (2000)
- Disappearing Acts (2000)
- Brown Sugar (2002)
- Out Of Time (2003)
- AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)
- Something New (2006)
- The Family That Preys (2008)
- A Raisin in the Sun (2008)
- Wonderful World (2009)
- Contagion (2011)
- The Best Man Holiday (2013)
Tropes applicable to her:
- Action Girl: Plays this role sometimes, most notably in Love and Basketball and AVP: Alien Vs. Predator.
- Black Gal on White Guy Drama: Something New has her character in this situation. In real life, Sanaa has dated white men before; she once gave an interview describing how one such relationship turned out.
- Dyeing for Your Art: She gained 20 pounds for her role in Disappearing Acts, and had to train in basketball for a year before filming Love and Basketball.
- Gender-Blender Name: She's played characters named Sidney (Brown Sugar) and Robin (The Best Man), both gender-neutral variants.
- Meaningful Name: Her name is Swahili for "work of art" and "beauty."
- Playing Against Type: She's known for playing headstrong, independent but ultimately good-hearted women; however, at least two of her starring roles were as major antagonists, and she has indicated that she wouldn't mind playing the role of a prostitute.I am not interested in portraying negative images. I also believe in reflecting all of humankind. I think that is what makes acting fun. I have played evil characters, and I have played a lot of ingénue types. If people look at me as a positive role model, that is great. That makes me feel good.
- Romance on the Set: She went into an actual relationship with Omar Epps after their on-screen chemistry in Love and Basketball.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: She's played this role in a few movies. Disappearing Acts and Something New are just two examples.
- Typecasting: As this article shows, she managed to avert this following the success of Love and Basketball, where she got several offers to star in girlfriend roles.I was offered a lot of girlfriend roles, but I wanted to do something that felt good in my gut. The only power you have as an actor is to say no.