Sanaa Lathan Is “Feeling Really Happy” Following Her Directorial Debut In ‘On The Come Up’

One cannot mention classic Black films and not utter the name Sanaa Lathan. From “Love & Basketball” to “The Wood,” “Brown Sugar,” and beyond, the legendary actress has managed to immerse herself into the homes of Black families, and she’s not letting up anytime soon.

This time, Lathan has made her directorial debut for “On The Come Up,” a coming of age tale about an aspiring female emcee, Bri, who is trying to use her gifts to make it.

“I’m elated that the movie is connecting with people,” Lathan told aspireTV. “You know, you work hard and it’s a long process and you want to create something and you want people to connect with it. It’s been almost two years and I’m just so happy. It’s like my baby, ‘On The Come Up’ is my baby and it’s coming out into the world and people are responding so I’m feeling really happy.”

Not only does Lathan serve as the film’s director, but she also breathes life into Jay, Bri’s mother who is grappling with life after surviving addiction.

“When I was working on the script, I fell in love with Jay and I felt a lot of compassion for her and I felt like if I were to play her, it wouldn’t be that different from the role that I kind of had on set as a director because it’s a bit of a mother role, especially when you’re working with a lot of young artists. It was really cool to kind of switch between director and being kind of like a mentor and the director and then switching into the actual mother role. It was kind of parallel and it wasn’t easy, it was definitely challenging, but it made sense.”

The film, which is an ode to women in rap stems from the novel by Angie Thomas with the synonymous title. Thomas explains why it was important for her to showcase women emcees.

“There were a lot of different things that inspired this story,” Thomas explained. “My love for hip-hop, my love for the culture, for the music…all of it. Hip-Hop was there for me when books weren’t because as a teenager I wasn’t a huge reader but I listened to rap and hip-hop music all the time. 24/7, 365. Rappers told stories that I connected with and saw myself in and they gave me a voice. They empowered me, so I wanted to pay homage to that. I wanted to tell a coming of age story with the backdrop of hip hop, specifically from the perspective of a teenage girl because we don’t see that a lot. Even though women are such an integral part of hip-hop, we don’t get to see that nearly enough in the films and the coming of age stories. I wanted to do that. I wanted to give that to the young girls who are like Bri, who see or hear themselves in hip-hop, but need to see themselves on the screen in this type of story a little more as well.

“On The Come Up” is now available for streaming on Paramount Plus.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *