Sanaa Lathan on ‘Hit & Run’, ‘Succession’ Season 3 and a ‘Love & Basketball’ sequel

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The memory is still etched in my mind: Sanaa Lathan, chin raised, a basketball clutched to his chest like a lifeline. I was a child sitting in front of the television; Love and basketball was on BET. Monica Wright from Lathan was the first black woman I ever saw on TV that really reminded me of myself. Like me, Monica moaned when she got her hair done, hated wearing dresses, and was continually desperate to rush outside and play with the boys. But it was the way Lathan frowned with determination that marked me as I grew older. I wanted this fearlessness, Monica’s and Lathan’s.

Today, Lathan has channeled that fearlessness into an enduring Hollywood legacy. As the lead actress in two beloved films such as Brown sugar and The best man as well as shows like The case and In the House, Lathan has built a body of work that brings him (and his fans) immense pride. “It feels good to know that all the sweat and the tears and all the rejection, all the times you were on the floor saying, ‘I want to give up’, that it was all worth it,” she said. . SHE. “Fortunately, people are affected by [my work] in different ways. ”

Most recently, Lathan took on the role of Naomi Hicks, a black Jewish investigative reporter on the Netflix drama. Hit & Run, which is currently on the streaming service’s top 10 list. In the gritty mystery, Lathan plays Segev’s ex-lover (Lior Raz), whose wife was killed in a hit-and-run accident. As a journalist for New York magazine, Hicks uses his connections and forensic skills to solve the mystery of his death.

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Next Up For Lathan Is A Role In Season 3 Of Acclaimed HBO Drama Succession, in which she will play lawyer Lisa Arthur. The cast and crew are under scrutiny to ensure no spoilers slip, so Lathan would only reveal that his character is “of great power” and “fierce.”

But that’s Lathan’s comfort zone; she is always drawn to characters with an advantage. And as she nears her 50th birthday in September, she shows no desire to slow down. “I have the impression that I will be [working in Hollywood] until I’m like Ruby Dee because that’s what I love to do, ”she says. “It’s what makes me happiest when I wake up in the morning.”

Before, I had the chance to catch up with the legendary actress to discuss her role in Hit and run and the next season of Succession, her future career plans as a director and the impact of her legacy.

What caught your eye when you first read the Hit and run scenario?

Hit & Run, on the page, was so exciting, and that’s rare sometimes. I always know I have a good script when I can read it from cover to cover without interruption. They gave me four scripts, I sat down and read them all at once. I couldn’t wait to meet to find out what happened in the rest of the script.

How did you prepare for the role of Naomi Hicks?

I spoke to Yavilah McCoy, a third generation African-American Jewish woman who advocates for Jews of color in America. She is very attached to Judaism, as she is to activism. I also have a cousin who is a journalist, [so] I spoke to her about what makes her have a story and how it feels to chase something all the time to find out the truth. With the help of both of them, I was able to create my character of Naomi.

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hit run l to r sanaa lathan as naomi hicks and swenson as henry donenfeld in episode 105 of hit run cr jojo whildennetflix © 2021

Sanaa Lathan as Naomi Hicks and Will Swenson as Henry Donenfeld in Hit and run

JOJO WHILDEN / NETFLIX

So many actors have said that one of their favorite shows is Succession, and if they could play on any board, it would be Succession. What has been your experience working with the cast and crew so far?

I watched in a burst Succession when I got the offer and I was blown away by the writing and acting. It was the same once on set. These actors are simply top notch, and I enjoyed being a part of the cast and working with great writing.

After acting for two decades, you recently announced your directorial debut in Angie Thomas. On The climb adaptation. How does it feel to go from being an actress to being the director of a great movie?

I see directing as a different way of telling a story. The actors tell the story of the characters. The directors are just a little more macro and tell the whole story. It’s just an extension of what I do. I’ve been in the business my whole life and I’ve been on sets my whole life. I feel like it’s a natural progression. In fact, when I was little I always used to say, “I’ll be a director like my father when I grow up” and then playing the part took me in a different direction. It’s funny how the circle has come full circle.

What prompted you to make this particular film?

Well, I love the book. It’s a great story about a young girl trying to find her authentic voice. She’s a gifted freestyle rapper, and it’s a coming-of-age story. I feel like this little girl is in me and so many little girls in the world.

Love and basketball still means so much to people, decades after its release. What does your role as Monica Wright mean to you 21 years later?

Last year, Love and basketball is part of the Criterion collection, which is a huge honor. I had a two hour interview before that, and I couldn’t believe I was talking about 20 years ago because I don’t really feel like I have that long.

I love that a whole other generation will still benefit from it and be inspired by their struggle, their courage and their bravado. I mean, he’s a great model, right? Many people still watch it and are moved by it. That’s all you can ask for as an artist.

love and basketball

Sanaa Lathan as Monica Wright and Omar Epps as Quincy McCall in Love and basketball (2000)

Michael Ochs ArchivesGetty Images

As the world continues to reboot classic ’90s and 2000s movies and shows, would you consider making a sequel to Love and basketball?

No, but only because Gina Prince-Bythewood [writer and director of Love & Basketball] will never want to do that. We talked about it. Gina’s response was “No. The public imagination will have to decide what happens to Monica and Quincy.

Being a Hollywood legend in your own right, you had the chance to watch the film industry grow into what it is today. How would you like to see the industry evolve in a direction that ensures the needs of future black filmmakers, producers, actors and actresses are met?

I’m happy with what’s been going on for about a year. We demand that more films start to resemble the world we live in, which is multicultural. Representation really matters. I know if you don’t see yourself reflected it can affect your self-esteem and self-esteem. I love that more people of color are playing the lead roles in movies and that more people of color are backstage. Because if we don’t have them behind the scenes, who will want to tell our stories? I would just like to see these advancements continue so that not only are people of color represented, but we are all paid the most like any other race as well. And to keep pushing, keep moving. Keep telling stories that reflect us.

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