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Sanaa Lathan Talks Importance Of Representation And Support In Hollywood

Sanaa Lathan is all that.

As one Hollywood’s most prominent and beautiful faces, the actress' career has spanned over an impressive 20 years, proving that the New York native to be a true mainstay on the big screen. From acting as our favorite music editor in Brown Sugar, to the seductive vamp in Blade, and the brown gal down with the swirl in Something New, Sanaa has continued to bring her no-nonsense and straight-forward sense of character to our screens time and time again.

Most recently, she's wrapped up filming her latest film Now You See Me 2 in London that will hit theaters in 2016, in addition to thriller, The Perfect Guy, alongside Hollywood hunks Michael Ealy and Morris Chestnut that is slated for a 2015 release. Aside from continuously scoring big movie roles, the past year has been one big emotional roller coaster for Sanaa but she keeps things cool, calm and collected dishing that meditation, self reflection, and staying focused on living and loving life has brought her to a new place in her life.

Here, Vixen catches up with Sanaa to talk social media, the importance of representation in Hollywood, and how she stays so grounded.


VIBE Vixen: What are your thoughts on the importance of women’s empowerment in Hollywood?
Sanaa Lathan: I think that any industry that’s highly competitive or takes a lot of work to get where you want to be, that you need all the support you can to be successful. I think people underestimate what it takes to succeed as a woman, especially as a black woman. As a black woman in Hollywood, it’s important to remember that only 1% of people who call themselves actors are the ones who actually make a living out of it. For me, I surround myself with people who understand the physical and emotional things that go into being in this industry. The friendships I've maintained over the years were ones that happened naturally; it’s nice to be able to get together with other women and have an organic support coming from true friendships.

What women in your life empower and inspire you?
I have some great girlfriends and an amazing mother. These women are great at being objective and getting me to see things from a different perspective.

What do you do to stay in a positive mindset?
Last year was a life changing year for me. My best friend of 20 years died suddenly, and I also dealt with a stalker. It was probably one of the worst times of my life. With that, I found a specific type of meditation (Transcendental Meditation). I wanted to come out of my sort of depression very naturally without medication, and that did it for me. Now I do it every day for 20 minutes and I never miss a day. It doesn't erase life’s problems but it definitely balances me out. Working out also helps. As an actress, your body is your instrument, so I make sure I work out by hiking, training, and keeping the workouts going.

What kinds of films are you drawn to?
For me, I’m an actress in the true sense of the word. It’s exciting for me to step into the role of the character. There’s no specific genre I’m drawn to. Once people see you in one genre, that’s what they see you as, so that’s probably why people associate me with romantic films. For me, it’s the feeling I get from the script- is it a fresh idea, is it something I want to share with the world, is the character a challenge? It’s usually very clear as soon as I read the script whether it’s a project I’d be interested in doing.

What are your thoughts on the rising influence of black women in Hollywood?
I think it feels great and its about time. I was never on the periphery of society. I am a black woman. I am an American. Our stories are just as important as any other story that gets told. So for me, it’s been a long time coming. I’m glad that we’re finally getting our due. I think we’re here to stay- the progress has slowly been happening and I think it will continue. I think all races and culture should be represented on the screens, and we’re seeing more of that!

Unlike many of your talented peers you're very active on social, why?
As a celebrity I love the idea that social media is a direct line to the fans and audience. I think its an unprecedented medium. I love that you can nip negativity in the bud from your own personal platform. Its really about the individual and how they use it. If you become obsessed with other people by looking at theirs, it can be negative or if you’re using it to cheat. But you can also use it to uplift. It can be a sense of community if you use it for the right reasons.

Do you believe in using your platform for speaking on social issues?
I work closely with organizations- specifically the Medical Corps. They do amazing work around the world. But ultimately I’m really big into news. On my social media feeds I re-post articles I’m interested in. You have to be conscious of what you’re doing every time you post. Once its there its there even after you delete it. I love that I can share news on Facebook. I think its a great tool for change.

What do you say to those who, especially in the digital age, struggle with the idea of perfection?
Nobody is perfect. That’s a danger of the Instagram generation in a way. The most beautiful thing to me is when I meet somebody and they are themselves. What makes me interested in a character I consider playing is their flaws. This journey called life is all about growth, making mistakes, and growing from them. Most of the people I look up to have a lot of flaws. Learn to live and accept your flaws and improve on them. What I know for sure is that some of the most successful, rich, and beautiful people still have problems and challenges. By definition, just by being alive you’re going to have problems. Accept and embrace your flaws.

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"On paper, it shouldn't make sense... it's hard to explain what it is," she says of the musical, which combined a loose adaptation of 16th-century piece The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia with the music of the new wave group, The Go-Go's. It closed in late-2018.

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