Sanaa Lathan is set to explore her talents offscreen and in the director’s chair. The actress will make her feature directorial debut with Paramount Players’ On the Come Up, an adaptation of Angie Thomas’ best-selling novel of the same name.
Deadline detailed news of Lathan’s involvement stating, “the feature project has been a priority for Paramount Players and they were impressed with Lathan’s vision for the film.”
The story comes from Thomas’ other novel, The Hate U Give, which was adapted into a feature film directed by George Tillman Jr. and released in 2018 via Fox 2000. On the Come Up was initially set to be released through Fox 2000 before the Disney-Fox acquisition interfered. Tillman was previously attached to direct On the Come Up following his work on The Hate U Give. It was then given to director Wanuri Kahiu, who pulled out of the film due to a scheduling conflict.
On The Come Up’s book description reads:
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons.
Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.
Lathan is following in the footsteps of her father, Stan Lathan, who is one of the industry’s leading producers and directors. He’s produced and directed projects like Dave Chapelle’s stand-up specials Sticks and Stones, the 2006 drama Waist Deep starring Tyrese, and the 90s classic How To Be A Player.
Aside from Sanaa Lathan’s upcoming directorial debut, she has an extended resume for work in television and film. Lathan was recognized in 2003 at the Tony Awards for her Broadway performance in A Raisin in the Sun in the Best Featured Actress in a Play category. She recently joined the cast of the Emmy Award-winning HBO series Succession and will next be seen starring in the upcoming action thriller Hit and Run opposite Lior Raz.
In addition, her short film Leap, which she directed, is part of a film anthology shot during lockdown and it is set to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.