ATN interview with Sanaa Lathan

Published: Tuesday, December 1, 2009 | Interview by Sophia A Jackson
Sanaa Lathan (Maggie) in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, photo credit Dan Wooller Sanaa Lathan (Maggie) in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, photo credit Dan Wooller

Afridiziak Theatre News editor, Sophia Jackson caught up with the cast of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on the first day of rehearsals. The second interview is with Tony Award nominee (Raisin in the Sun, 2004) Sanaa Lathan (The Best Man, Nip/Tuck). Slightly exhausted having just arrived in London we talked about getting more black audiences interested in theatre and how she’s preparing for her role as Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof where she describes herself as being emotionally naked.


Sanaa Lathan (Maggie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)

Afridiziak Theatre News: So, how excited are you about being in London and starring in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?


Sanaa Lathan: I’m really excited right now. Not only is it a dream role for me. I haven’t done a play since RAISIN IN THE SUN which has been one of the highlights of my career on the stage.


ATN: Did you have any reservations about Cat on a Hot Tin Roof being an all black cast?

SL: I think it was a bold move but because it’s a classic it stands against time and talks to different races and different economic lines - these characters can be played by anybody. I wasn’t in the Broadway production but people ate it up – they loved it. It was a huge hit.


ATN: It’s quite a glamorous cast don’t you think? When I watched the trailer I was completely blown away. I remember you said that not only are you emotionally naked on the stage you’re also semi-naked. How are you preparing for that?

SL: (Laughs) I’m not eating. I’m going to be working out. I’m working my little butt off and just going to do my best in rehearsals.


ATN: What about emotionally – were you able to connect with the character?

SL: Yeah. One great thing about great writing is you know that you can relate on some level.


Phylicia Rashad (Big Mama), Adrian Lester (Brick), Sanaa Lathan (Maggie), James Earl Jones (Big Daddy) in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, photo credit Jeff Fasano Phylicia Rashad (Big Mama), Adrian Lester (Brick), Sanaa Lathan (Maggie), James Earl Jones (Big Daddy) in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, photo credit Jeff Fasano

ATN: In the US does Broadway pack out with black audiences? Here in the UK, the West End doesn’t regularly pack out with black audiences - even if it’s a black production you rarely see the audience fully reflecting the subject matter or the cast. Do you have that problem Stateside?

SL: I think there is that problem. The problem is that there are not that many black productions on Broadway and with Cat on a Hot Tin Roof they had people coming to see the show who had never been to the theatre before. And this production on Broadway broke records with the audiences. I think it’s really about getting black people interested in the subject.


ATN: How did you feel about being nominated for a Tony Award?

SL: It was brilliant and totally unexpected. I was so happy. I wasn’t even thinking about it. It was a thrill.


ATN: It must be great working with Phylicia Rashad again?

SL: Yes. I love Phylicia I grew up watching her so it feels like I’ve known her forever.


ATN: What will you be working on after Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?

SL: I have a movie coming out with Matthew Broderick called Wonderful World. It’s a beautiful little movie and that will be coming out in January. I have a cartoon that I’m the voice over for a show which is a spin-off from Family Guy, called The Cleveland Show which is an all black cartoon. I play Cleveland’s wife.




Related links

ATN listings information for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – on until April 10, 2010
ATN interview with Adrian Lester, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof




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