Or is it because, as an actress over the age of 40 (Lathan is 43), she’s reached her last fuckable day? “She’s never based her career on looks or being a star, but really going after good work,” explains Prince-Bythewood.

Though Lathan grew up adjacent to the entertainment biz, guest-starred on sitcoms like Moesha and Family Matters, and dutifully gazed into the eyes of Epps and Taye Diggs in late-’90s hits like The Wood and The Best Man, Love & Basketball was her cinematic cotillion — the bildungsroman upon which she built the sturdy base of her early career.

It’s the film her fans rhapsodize about most, says Lathan, and, apparently, it still brings grown men to tears.

Pal and frequent collaborator Prince-Bythewood laughs when describing what it’s like to go out with Lathan in public: “I’ve been with her when a guy came up to her and started crying.

But she’s very gracious, and I know it’s gotta be tough, but she seems to handle it very well. She smiled and shook his hand and told him it was OK.

The Perfect Guy marks Lathan’s first producing credit — she weighed in on everything from the initial concept to the script, something she says she’s been informally doing for years but never received acknowledgement for.

She’s planning on continuing to produce her own projects moving forward, especially those that tell stories that reflect the world she knows.Does this swath of unremarkable films and sporadic disappearances reflect the fact that Lathan is a black actress in an industry that’s only doled out one Academy Award for Best Actress to a black woman in the history of cinema, that casts non-white actors in only 16.7 percent of lead roles?Is this pattern a result of Lathan’s consistent refusal to give herself over to the press?When we start chatting, Sanaa Lathan’s a bit punchy. ” she yells, a loose, almost mischievous laugh spilling from her as it does many times over the course of our conversation.There’s a huge, high-decibel construction project going on outside her modest L. home, and she keeps interrupting herself to giggle, sigh loudly, or apologize for the noise. “This is when I wish I had a 9-to-5.” Much of her early chatter is like this: funny, warm, but a little impersonal.Something will be popular and hot, and I’m like, ‘No, I’m not interested, it doesn’t speak to me.’ It really has to be a story that I want to tell, or I want to see.” But because Hollywood struggles to service over-40, non-white, non-male constituents, the good work Lathan loves is rarely there for the taking. “I was dating this guy, newly in love with him, and it was Friday night, and [my agent] was like, ‘You need to go in for this movie Alien vs. “I didn’t work on the lines and then in the morning I was like, ‘I’m not gonna go,’ and [my boyfriend] made me go. And like a week later, I was on a plane to do a screen test in Prague with the Predator, who’s this 7-foot-tall German dude.” These days, though, “I really don’t go,” she says.