BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: Sanaa Lathan turns director for ‘On the Come Up’

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By Bill Vaughan

Entertainment Writer

“As a little girl, I would always tell people I wanted to be a director like my dad [the famed Stan Lathan] when I grow up,” said Sanaa Lathan from the stage of the Princess of Wales Theatre.

That dream has been realized with “On the Come Up,” her impressive adaptation of Angie Thomas’ New York Times best-selling novel, which was an opening night feature of the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.

After growing up around lots of art and artists as a toddler watching her father and actress mom Eleanor McCoy in action, she grew to build an accomplished career in front of the camera with classic films “The Wood,” “The Best Man,” “Love & Basketball” and “Brown Sugar” among her credits.

Yet, the desire to go behind the lens persisted.

“I didn’t know it would be this soon,” explained Lathan. “During the pandemic, I directed a short film in my house starring me and my dog Nala. I showed it to my agents, they liked it and asked if they could start sending me for projects. I was like OK, thinking it would get to something a couple of years down the line. But within a matter of months, I got the opportunity to pitch for this movie.

“On the Come Up,” making its streaming debut on Paramount+ beginning Sept. 23, centers on 16-year-old Bri (Jamila C. Gray), the daughter of a deceased underground legend, who wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Facing controversies and with an eviction notice staring down her family, Bri has to make it.

In addition to directing, Lathan took on the challenging role of Bri’s mother with the supporting cast of Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Mike Epps, Michael Cooper Jr., Miles Gutierrez-Riley and Lil Yachty.

With her return to a familiar role in “The Best Man: The Final Chapters” in the can, Lathan is looking for her next project.

“At the core, we are all the same. We’re all ugly and beautiful and layered,” she said allowing a peek into her intent. “I want to see it all on screen. All the stories.”

FESTIVAL FILE: The 2022 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) wrapped giving an early indication of awards season frontrunners.

The People’s Choice Award went to Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical “The Fabelmans,” with marvelous performances by Michelle Williams and Judd Hirsch. First runner-up was Sarah Polley’s “Women Talking,” with second runner-up going to Rian Johnson’s sequel “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” with Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Leslie Odom Jr., and the amazing Janelle Monae.

Hubert Davis’ “Black Ice,” about discrimination in hockey won the People’s Choice Documentary Award with “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” nabbing Midnight Madness honors and Anthony Shim’s “Riceboy Sleeps” getting the Platform Jury Prize.

Tasty Clips favorites included Elegance Bratton’s moving “The Inspection” with Oscar-worthy turns by Jeremy Pope, Bokeem Woodbine and Gabrielle Union; Clement Virgo’s “Brother” with Aaron Pierre, Lamar Johnson and the incredible Marsha Stephanie Blake; Stephen Williams’ “Chevalier” starring Kelvin Harrison Jr.; Ben Kingsley as Salvador Dali in Mary Harron’s “Daliland;” and Rodrigo Garcia’s dark comedy “Raymond & Ray” with Ethan Hawke, Ewan McGregor, Sophie Okonedo and Vondie Curtis-Hall.

Look for them all soon via theaters and streaming services. In the meantime, early birds are encouraged to make plans for the next TIFF to be held Sept. 6–16, 2023.

CLIPPETTES: Lil Wayne is at the Saban Theatre on Sept. 23; while Michael Bublé croons at Crypto.Com Arena; Joe Satriani shreds at the Orpheum Theatre; Ravi Coltrane blows at Santa Monica’s Broad Stage; Thievery Corporation rocks Riverside’s Fox Performing Arts Center; as Gorillaz return to the Forum (also on the 25th at YouTube Theater)

Bonnie Raitt & Mavis Staples hit the Greek Theatre on Sept. 24; as PJ Morton plays the Theatre at Ace Hotel; and rising R&B vocalist Sabrina Claudio sings at Anaheim’s House of Blues (also at the Hollywood Palladium on Sept. 28)

Regé-Jean Page (“Bridgerton”) and Glen Powell (“Top Gun: Maverick”) are the new “Butch and Sundance” for a reimagined Amazon western series to be exec produced by The Russo Bros (“The Avengers: Endgame”)

Grace Jones and Chvrchs fill the bill Sept. 25 at the Hollywood Bowl; as Ozomatli performs at the Soka Performing Arts Center; and Christopher Cross brings his hits to the Coach House

Harpist Brandee Younger plays the Lodge Room on Sept. 26

Pitbull’s Can’t Stop Us Now Tour with Sean Paul arrives at the Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 27; while Roger Waters is in the round at Crypto.Com Arena for two nights

After five seasons, comic actor Chris Redd (whose impersonation of New York Mayor Eric Adams went viral) is moving on from NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”

Herbie Hancock with The Free Nationals play the Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 28; while Demi Lovato is at YouTube Theater; Kenny Wayne Shepherd is at The Saban; Nikki Glaspie & The Homies funk up The Mint; and Roxy Music’s 50th Anniversary Tour hits The Forum

Astrophysicist and author Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses his book “Starry Messenger: Cosmic Perspectives on Civilization” in a virtual event presented by Live Talks Los Angeles on Sept. 29 from 6–7 p.m. Visit EventBrite for tickets which include a copy

Later that evening, Jerry Harrison & Adrian Belew are at The Wiltern; while the Grammy Museum welcomes Sammy Hagar celebrating the release of his new album, “Crazy Times,” with a chat and performance; and the GuadaLAjara Film Festival screens their opening night film “Omara,” about the 90-year-old legendary Afro-Cuban diva at the Theatre at Ace Hotel.

TASTY QUIP: “Shout out to BET, I won Hustler of the Year. No one from music culture has had success in television production. I have 25 shows now and I’ve made some big deals away from TV. I’m out of my deal at STARZ tomorrow.” – CURTIS “50 CENT” JACKSON (“Power” franchise) on IG

TC ON TV: Sept. 23 – “Sidney” (Apple TV+): Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Tyler Perry and director Reginald Hudlin walked the red carpet for the world premiere of this Sidney Poitier documentary at the Toronto Film Festival. Most of it remarkably is in the icon’s own words. A must see. “A Jazzman’s Blues” (Netflix): Perry’s film, based upon his first written screenplay, also premiered at the festival. The period drama features supporting turns from Amirah Vann and Debbie Allen. “Lou” (Netflix): Allison Janney and Jurnee Smolett are executive producers and stars of this revenge flick. “Great Performances” (PBS): “Intimate Apparel,” the opera with a libretto by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage is presented. “Secret Celebrity Renovation” (CBS): Nicole Scherzinger returns to Hawaii to gift her “Tutu and Papa,” who introduced her to the world of singing and dancing.

Sept. 24 – “Finding Happy” (Bounce): Cedric the Entertainer is an executive producer of this dramedy following the Black female experience through the unfulfilled life of 36-year-old Yaz Carter (B. Simone). With Kim Coles and Angela Gibbs.

Sept. 25 – “Global Citizen Festival: Take Action Now” (ABC): Priyanka Chopra Jonas hosts with performances by Mariah Carey, Mickey Guyton, Angelique Kidjo, Billy Porter, Metallica and more. “Big Brother” (CBS): Will besieged Black beauty queen Taylor Hale win? “Celebrity Jeopardy” (ABC): Simu Liu (“Marvel’s Shang-Chi’) and Ego Nwodim of “Saturday Night Live” compete. “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune” (ABC): Snoop Dogg, Amanda Seales “Unsung” (TV1): Tony Terry “Uncensored” (TV1): Kadeem Hardison

Sept. 26 – “DC League of Super Pets” (HBO Max): The animated hit with a voice cast including Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Keanu Reeves, Diego Luna, Daveed Diggs and more makes its streaming debut.

Sept. 27 – “Reasonable Doubt” (Hulu): Larry Wilmore and Kerry Washington (who also directs) are executive producers of this legal drama starring Emayatzy Corinealdi, Michael Ealy, Pauletta Washington, Sean Patrick Thomas and Eugene Byrd. “The Rookie: Feds” (ABC): This spinoff of “The Rookie” headlining Niecy Nash-Betts as the oldest rookie in the FBI Academy arrives as a series with Frankie Faison and James Lesure.

Sept. 28 – “Reservation Dogs” (Hulu): The kids make it to L.A. in the season finale. “Blonde” (Netflix): The latest in Marilyn Monroe biopics with Ana de Armas in the lead role.

Sept. 29 – “F*ck Your Turkey in A Straw” (AllBlk): A short exposing the familiar American jingle with a nefarious history. “Jose Feliciano: Behind This Guitar” (Peacock): A profile of the over 55-year career of the multiple Grammy Award winning performer. “Live with Kelly & Ryan” (ABC): Jimmy Smits, Alfonso Ribeiro “Hell’s Kitchen” (Fox): For a first time in its 21 seasons, well-seasoned 40-somethings will battle the fresh up-and-coming 20-somethings in competition. “Atlanta” (FX): Tonight’s episode, “Light Skinned-ed” marks Stefani Robinson’s return to writing for the series after penning and co-producing her first feature film, “Chevalier,” a biopic of Black 18th century classical composer Joseph Bologne.

END QUOTE: “It always seems impossible until it’s done” – NELSON MANDELA

 

As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment columns in the nation, serving nearly one million weekly readers. Bill Vaughan may be reached at tastyclips@yahoo.com, via Twitter @tastyclips, or Instagram @tasty_clips.

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