About The Cast & Characters
With the script complete, the filmmakers started the search for the actors who could bring the characters to life. As he developed the characters Dre and Sidney, Famuyiwa knew that he wanted to cast Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan for the roles. "I'd worked with them before on
THE WOOD, and they have chemistry between them. I knew they would work perfectly together."
Famuyiwa believes that audiences will be surprised to see a new side of Diggs'
many talents. "Most people don't see how funny he is. Taye is a serious actor, but he also has a
warmth and humor that he really hasn't shown before." Diggs was working on another project when he first heard about BROWN SUGAR. "Anything that Rick's attached to always interests me because he has a real sensitivity
and sensibility for telling a good story, and tugging on people's strings. So I was interested,"
That initial interest grew when Diggs read about the metamorphosis that Dre goes through during the course of the film. "He starts out as a slick, music industry cat, then he realizes that he's lost why he came into the music business in the first place. At the same
time, his relationship with his wife is undergoing a series of changes that push him toward becoming a better, more grounded person. All these dynamics were a wonderful opportunity for an actor to play different shades of a character," Diggs recalls.
The thematic thrust of the story was yet another attraction, Diggs says. "It's a love
story with comic overtones, but that also deals with old friends and their relationships. As I get older, a lot of these themes have more relevance for me. This was something that I wanted to be part of. And then I found out that they were talking to Sanaa as well. She's always a ball to work
with, she's one of the best actresses I know." Sanaa Lathan plays Sidney Shaw, a journalist who has recently relocated to New York from Los Angeles to become the editor of the hip-hop magazine,
"XXL." Famuyiwa says of Lathan, "There are so many ways Sidney could have been played, but Sanaa brought such a strength and vulnerability, a sweetness and honesty to the character...To see Sidney come to life with the nuances that Sanaa brought to the character each day, surprised and motivated me."
Lathan counts on her intuitive sense when considering a role. She describes the process, "It's all a gut feeling - how I feel when I turn the last page." Lathan describes her character as
"A regular woman who loves music and is good at what she does. She's a workaholic who's
given up dating. She never meets the right guys. At the beginning of the story, Sidney has decided to focus on her work."
Of Diggs, with whom she had previously worked in her breakout performance in THE BEST MAN, Lathan states, "There's only so far that you can go pretending to be best
friends, but Taye and I have worked together before. We've been friends ever since then, so we're
very comfortable with each other. We're able to be silly and let it all hang out." Their friendship in the film parallels the development of hip-hop music and culture. They met as young children at a rap freestyle battle and became best friends. As Sidney and Dre mature, so does the music. Tastes change, styles change, but the people and music continue to grow and evolve. Sidney is in love with hip-hop, and that love distracts her from acknowledging her deeper feelings for
In addition to portraying a strong male/female friendship on screen, Lathan had the opportunity to explore the female relationship that develops between Sidney and Dre's
wife Reese, played by Nicole Ari Parker. Parker describes Reese as "very straightforward. She loves her man, she loves her job, and she loves life. I don't know if she even considers failing
at anything. She's a real go-getter and hustler in the way she works a room, works a party.
She's kind of innocent in a way, beca
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