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Actress Sanaa Lathan sat down in The Hollywood Reporter’s Studio at Sundance to promote her new feature Young. Wild. Free., alongside director Thembi Banks and co-stars Algee Smith and Sierra Capri. Lathan, most recently known for her Emmy-nominated guest starring role on season 3 of HBO’s Succession, also reflected on the upcoming season of the HBO series.
Lathan portrayed attorney Lisa Arthur on the Emmy-winning series’ most recent season, representing Jeremy Strong’s troubled media heir Kendall Roy. Asked whether she’s been on Succession’s set for season 4, Lathan revealed: “I have not, no, I have not.” However, in response to learning that co-star Nicholas Braun one-word summation of the upcoming season would be “Banger,” she said: “I mean, how can it bang more than my season? I’m kidding. Lisa Arthur was a legend. Who knows, maybe she’ll come back in the future.”
Sundance’s lineup this year has seen an encouragingly high number of female directors and directors of color. For example, according to the festival’s website, in the US dramatic competition lineup “61 percent or 8 of the 13 directors in this year’s U.S. Dramatic Competition identify as women; 61 percent or 8 of the 13 identify as people of color; 23 percent or 3 of the 13 identify as LGBTQ+.”
“It can get very emotional when I think about the business right now. Just in terms of me coming up in the business,” Lathan explains about the growth in female directors and directors of color. “I was—first of all, very, very few times in all of my career have I worked with female directors, until recently, and even less so Black. Probably Gina Prince-Bythewood was, like, the only one. To be at Sundance and to see all these amazing female filmmakers behind the camera, women of color, it is like I’m living in a dream. Because the world that I grew up in, I was the only one, or it was like I knew everybody, because—and we were all fighting for the same role. When you did get the role, you didn’t see anybody on set [who] looked like you. So to see the world actually making some progress—there’s a long way to go—is exciting and it’s emotional.”
Young. Wild. Free. marks Banks’ feature debut after an Emmy nomination for her work on Only Murders in the Building and her 2020 Sundance short Baldwin Beauty.
Euphoria star Smith added of the filming process: “When you have such a great experience as [Young. Wild. Free.], it makes you want to recreate experiences like those. I don’t want to go to a set where it doesn’t feel like this. Where it just feels like I’m dragging, my castmates aren’t really here for me , or my director is kinda distant. I don’t wanna do that. So I think the comfortability and the trust we have here, I definitely want to keep having that.”
“Now the bar is raised for you,” Lathan agreed.
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Robert De Niro