Sanaa Lathan Talks On the Come Up, Brown Sugar

Sanaa Lathan got here out swinging together with her directorial debut, “On the Come Up,” which lastly made its solution to streaming and choose theaters on Sept. 23. The veteran actor introduced Angie Thomas’s bestselling 2019 novel of the identical identify to life with a hip-hop coming-of-age story — which premiered at this 12 months’s Toronto Movie Pageant — starring herself, Jamila C. Grey, Technique Man, Lil Yachty, Mike Epps, Da’Vine Pleasure Randolph, GaTa, Miles Gutierrez-Riley, Titus Makin Jr., and Michael Anthony Cooper Jr.

“[‘On the Come Up’] is mostly a coming-of-age story, and the hip-hop a part of it’s a part of what will get her to step into her energy.”

Whereas “On the Come Up” marks Lathan’s first time behind the digicam for a movie, she’s no stranger to telling music-inspired tales. The actor’s many credit embrace “Love & Basketball,” the Finest Man franchise, and Rick Famuyiwa’s hip-hop rom-com “Brown Sugar,” wherein Lathan and her longtime costar Taye Diggs performed childhood associates Sidney “Syd” Shaw and Andre “Dre” Ellis practically 20 years in the past.

Regardless that “Brown Sugar” and “On the Come Up” comply with two very completely different plots, Lathan admits that it nonetheless looks like a full-circle second to carry yet one more hip-hop story to the massive display. “It is attention-grabbing as a result of ‘Brown Sugar’ was a love story set on this planet of hip-hop, and this can be a coming-of-age story set on this planet of battle rap,” she tells “So sure, it has the identical themes as a result of it is hip-hop tradition, however they’re actually so drastically completely different. The battle-rap scene, which remains to be actually sturdy and in impact as we speak, is absolutely thrilling and really completely different from the radio hip-hop hits that you just hear. . . . [‘On the Come Up’] is mostly a coming-of-age story, and the hip-hop a part of it’s a part of what will get her to step into her energy, and I am simply so happy with that.”

Lathan took on the duty of each directing and starring in her book-to-movie adaptation as Jay, Bri’s (Grey) mom, a recovering addict who struggles to maintain her household collectively by means of monetary hardships. Throughout a 2021 episode of the “Jemele Hill Is Unbothered” podcast, Lathan opened up about her connection to “On the Come Up”‘s principal character’s story and having relations who have been hooked on medication, so it was nearly a no brainer for her to participate within the movie from either side.

“It was difficult,” she tells us. “I fell in love with the character of Jay, the mother, after I was engaged on the script and doing rewrites and all of that. I simply felt actually compelled to play her, and I knew that might be extraordinarily difficult, having these two hats. However I have been performing all my life, and I used to be like, ‘I acquired this.’ And but nonetheless it was, ‘Oh, it is time to go to hair and make-up?’ It was at all times just a little disconcerting to have to modify hats as a result of it is a completely different a part of your mind that you just’re utilizing. However all in all, it labored out.”

“On the Come Up” is now streaming on Paramount+.

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