EXCLUSIVE: Actress Sanaa Lathan will be making her feature directorial debut on Paramount Players’ adaptation of Angie Thomas’ New York Times bestseller On the Come Up.
The feature project has been a priority for Paramount Players and they were impressed with Lathan’s vision for the film, the story of which comes from the author of The Hate U Give; that novel turned into a 2019 Fox 2000 motion picture.
On The Come Up, from HarperCollins imprint Balzer & Bray, centers on 16-year-old Bri, who wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. 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.
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Lathan was Tony-nominated in 2003 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. Her short film Leap, part of With/In, a film anthology shot during lockdown, will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Lathan’s credits include The Affair, Native Son, The Twilight Zone, plus Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, Jon Chu’s Now You See Me 2 and American Assassin opposite Michael Keaton.
Temple Hill, State Street and Angie Thomas are producing On the Come Up. Kay Oyegun wrote the script. Lathan is repped by CAA and Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman.
Previously, Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu was attached to direct On the Come Up, however, a scheduling problem, I hear, prevented her from moving forward with the production. Paramount Players has a mission for creating genre movies from unique, contemporary voices and properties.