Actress Sanaa Lathan is one of the few black actresses in Hollywood who is always working. Besides voicing the character of Donna Tubbs on the animated series The Cleveland Show, Lathan is working on a play, The Best Man 2, and the Starz hit original series Boss.
Boss stars Kelsey Grammer as the corrupt Chicago mayor Tom Kane who has a degenerative neurological disorder. The talented bombshell plays Mona Fredricks, Kane’s newest Chief of Staff. Mona Fredricks is a strong woman with a deep connection to the community she serves and is willing to manipulate a few politicians to get what she feels the community deserves. Although Mona begins the season working for Alderman Ross, who is Tom Kane’s biggest rival, things change swiftly.
Sanaa Lathan spoke to The Urban Daily about her role on the show. While she didn’t want to give too much away, Sanaa did drop a few hints as to what’s going to happen in future episodes. Besides Boss, Lathan opened up about her parents’ feelings about her getting into the movie business, why she doesn’t like to watch herself on screen, and the best advice she’s ever received from Alfre Woodard. Allow Sanaa Lathan to show you why she’s a boss.
Before you were in Love And Basketball, I used to refer to you as the mean girl on Moesha when Brandy went to the concert with Q.
Sanaa Lathan: [laughs] That is hilarious. That was one of my first jobs.
Okay, so, I just finished watching the first three episodes of Boss. Your character is a doozy!
What do you mean?
I see like there’s something there. There’s some underlying stuff that’s about to happen with her. I feel like she and Ian will struggle for power. I just want to know what happens.
Well you’re going have to watch! [laughs] No, I mean you know that she’s very passionate about her community. She’s not going to give up that fight. the people she’s fighting for are the people she grew up with and she comes from this community. She’s very dedicated to that. She’s trying to get Kane to help her take care of this community. Obviously, Kane is the one who is so unpredictable.
What made you wanna take the role of Mona Fredricks?
I always said I would love to do a really good cable show. Something that’s really well written because the quality of live TV is really coming up. I’m finding myself liking watching TV these days, especially the shows on cable. So when this came up I was so excited. I saw the first season and jumped at the chance.
Mona starts out on the opposing side of Tom Kane. Why do you think she chose to jump ship and go with him and not stay with Alderman Ross?
I think Alderman Ross seems to be kind of falling apart and he seems to be very unpredictable. We start out the season with him in the midst of a nervous breakdown. She sees that and I think she first stands by him. But he starts becoming aggressive and inappropriate with her. Her first priority is not necessarily loyalty to him, it’s loyalty to her community. Plus, Kane makes her an offer she can’t refuse, which is that there is the possibility of actually doing something for her community with him. Kane has the real power. It’s really about her liking Kane any more than Ross. I think it’s really about her priorities in her community, which she’s trying to save.
Why do you think after Tom Kane hired her, he bugged her house?
Cause he’s a crazy mu’ f**ker! [laughs] I don’t know. I mean, you would have to ask the writers that. But clearly he becomes a little bit more interested in her than is appropriate. You know, I think that it’s some kind of twisted fantasy he’s having.
Switching gears, being that both of your parents are in the business and you grew up performing, did they try to steer you in another direction besides becoming a professional actress?
My mother just wanted me to do whatever made my heart sing. My dad did not want me to become an actress because him being a director and producer, he knew for actresses, regardless of how successful you could be, it can be very difficult and he didn’t want his daughter to go through that. Once I got in, he was 100 percent behind me and came to every single one of my plays. He’s probably like my number one fan these days.
Speaking of parents, have you and Alfre Woodard adopted each other yet? You two always play mother and daughter.
I know that there have been talks about the Best Man 2. Is that actually happening?
I’m crossing my fingers. We did a read through for a studio. They’re planning on doing it. The script is really good. I think people are gonna be so excited. It’s just funny and moving and all the same characters. It’s just a matter of working out logistics.
I read you don’t like to watch yourself on screen. Why is that?
It’s just not fun for me. I’ll watch it once just so I can talk about it in the press. Other than that, I’m really not interested. I like watching other people’s work. I don’t watch my films, but it’s cool to know when other people are watching them.
Could you see yourself stepping behind the scenes and writing and producing and directing?
Absolutely! Anything’s possible. I definitely have a couple of projects in development. I definitely see myself doing that.
Look out for Boss on Fridays at 9pm. You can watch the first episode of season 2 by clicking
Isn’t that funny?! She’s played my mother three times. I love Alfre. We’re good friends and she’s really such a talented woman. So I just always just cherish the time I can have with her. Clearly, we have some kind of mother/daughter karma.
What are some of the things she passed on to you when you guys were filming the first movie you did together?
She’s just really smart and she’s navigated the business and survived for so long and had such a great career. She told me, when we did Love And Basketball, ‘Just make sure you make your choices based on if you had all the time in the world and all the money in the world. Pick your choices. Try not to make your choices out of fear. Make your choices out of love.’ That’s the best advice I’d ever been given.