Sanaa Lathan is the star of FOX’s new murder mystery show, Shots Fired, in which she plays expert investigator Ashe Akino.
You probably recognize her — but do you know where from? Here’s a bit of background…
Sanaa came into the world on September 19, 1971. Her mother, Eleanor McCoy was a dancer and actress, and her father, Stan Lathan worked in the TV industry. You also might have heard of her DJ brother, Tendaji Lathan.
The name “Sanaa” means “art” in Swahili and “shining light” in Arabic.
Possessing brains as well as beauty, Sanaa has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley. More impressively, she also holds a master’s degree in drama from Yale University.
After graduating from Yale, Sanaa made a name for herself appearing in 0ff-Broadway plays and in Los Angeles.
By basing herself in Los Angeles, TV roles soon began to come in, with appearances in shows like Family Matters and NYPD Blue.
In 1998, Sanaa played Wesley Snipes’ mother in the cult film Blade, following this up with a role in Life alongside Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy in 1999.
Critical acclaim was soon abounding, with her performance in Love & Basketball gaining her the 2001 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture as well as a BET Award.
Sanaa won the Essence Award for Best Actress in 2001 for her portrayal of a singer/songwriter in Disappearing Acts. That same year, Ebony magazine named her as one of its 55 Most Beautiful People.
In 2003 Sanaa worked with Denzel Washington in Out of Time, but it was in 2004 that she got an even bigger film role, when she was asked to play the lead character of Alexa Woods in Alien vs. Predator, a film that grossed in excess of $171 million.
Fans of The Cleveland Show might also recognize Sanaa’s voice — she played the character of Donna Tubbs from 2009 to 2013.
More recently, Sanaa has appeared in Contagion (with Matt Damon and Jude Law) and Repentance (with Forest Whitaker).
Check out the trailer for Shots Fired in the clip below.
Shots Fired airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on FOX.