Hollywood actress Sanaa Lathan talks to SoulCulture.TV about her family’s history in entertainment, being very critical of her own work and distinguishing between herself and the characters she plays.

“I am my instrument, you can’t just leave yourself behind. There’s a little of me in every character…. and yet… well-written characters have their own spirit about them.”

We also discuss her fun, cartoon role in The Cleveland Show – and the issue of under-representation of black culture, as well as being typecast for specifically “black” roles. “The truth is… I just want more opportunity,” she says.


“You don’t want the role that’s always written for a black woman because it just limits your choices; and that’s just the world that we live in today. I think it’s slowly changing…”

She names her recent theatre stretch in London’s West End – playing Maggie The Cat in a “historic” all-black casting of Tennessee Williams‘ classic Cat On A Hot Tin Roof – as some of her proudest work to date, enjoying the in-the-moment immediate audience response of theatre compared to the detachment of film work.

“I just wanna keep on being challenged… be scared a little, push myself out of my comfort zone; I think that’s how you grow… It’s not always the most comfortable thing to do, but that’s always been my philosophy.”

Interview by Marsha Gosho Oakes, Filmed and Edited by RizeOfTheRobotz
Photography by Steve Rutherford.

The floaty instrumental you hear in the background of the interview is “It’s Whatever” produced by Black Einstein, from SoulCulture’s Aaliyah Revisited tribute EP (2009) which features Baby Sol, Tawiah, Marsha Ambrosius, Vula, Jonas, Sy Smith, AFTA-1 and Nikko Gray. Download the instrumental from Bandcamp, or the full EP at AaliyahRevisited.com.

www.soulculture.tv

Want more Sanaa Lathan? CLICK HERE to watch her thoughts on the US tabloids’ attitude towards African American celebrities, celebrity culture, having rumours printed about her and developing a thick skin.