During the junket for “On the Come Up,” directed by Sanaa Lathan who made her directorial debut, I had very little time. Such are the facts about these fancy press opportunities. But I’ve been following Lathan’s career since she stunned us all in the now classic film “Love and Basketball” starring Omar Epps.
Lathan has been sharpening her skills for 26 years in the industry and thanks to her family, she was basically born into it, as the daughter of legendary director and producer Stan Lathan. As an actress (and make no mistake, this new director can act) her credits include “Life,” “Brown Sugar,” and “Out of Time” to name a few. On Broadway, she was nominated for a Tony Award (2004) for her portrayal of Beneatha Younger in “A Raisin in the Sun.” On the television side, she recently received her first Emmy nomination for her guest role on “Succession.”
“On the Come Up,” which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival, marks her directorial debut. And not only is she good in front of the camera (she plays the role of a recovering addict), she’s proven herself to be a very sturdy, gifted film director.
Here’s what producer/actress and now, film director Sanaa Lathan had to share about making “On the Come Up” which premieres Sept. 23, exclusively on Paramount+.
AmNews: Congrats on the directing. I loved your film.
Sanaa Lathan: Thank you.
AmNews: I’ve interviewed you in the past. I never knew you wanted to direct.
SL: I’ve been in the business for 25 years, plus, and have probably been on more [movie] sets than most directors.
AmNews: You just soaked it up.
SL: I was just around it, and it was all I knew. I wanted to do the opposite because it wasn’t cool. Whatever your parents do, you want to do the opposite.
AmNews: “On the Come Up” the film is an adaptation of Angie Thomas’ 2019 young adult novel of the same name. Why did you choose this story?
SL: I fell in love with it after I read it and it felt like the right time.
AmNews: It’s clear that you love what you do.
SL: Thank you. Well, I am a storyteller and I am if I’m playing a character or directing a movie. This is my life.
AmNews: Your destiny.
SL: Yes. I know this for sure.
AmNews: Thank you for making a solid film.
SL: You are welcome.