Sanaa Lathan Answers ESSENCE’s Questions on Faith and Spirituality
Jason LaVeris/ Getty

Sanaa Lathan is a great believer in the practice of gratitude.

Here, the star of such beloved films as Love & Basketball and The Best Man—and currently, Repentance with Anthony Mackie and Forest Whitaker—shares why gratitude and a rich spiritual base has kept her fulfilled in Hollywood, and in life.

Do you consider yourself more spiritual or religious?
I definitely am more spiritual than I am religious. I take from all kind of religions, cause I am a big spiritual seeker. I’ve read the Bible, I’ve read the Koran, I’ve read Indian scriptures and I really like taking from them all. I have a spiritual advisor that I talk to. I believe that everybody should have that kind of element, whether it’s a priest or a life coach. I think it’s important for people to have somebody who’s objective, and who’s not necessarily a friend or family. That has really helped me throughout the years. It’s helped me persevere in this business and just navigate the waters of life.

Share an affirmation or proverb that always gets you through the tough times
I don’t exactly know what the proverb is, but that whole thing about reaping beauty from ashes. When you’re going through a hard time on the opposite side of the struggle there’s always the beauty of the gift that comes from the struggle. So I’ve definitely taken from that. I believe that having faith is being grateful and finding the gratitude. There are days when you, no matter what your life is, you’re not going to feel grateful but I also really believe in the practice of gratitude. I even have a journal where I write down the things that I’m grateful for. That’s a big one.  

Can you share a recent time when you remembered to be grateful?
Lately it’s been easy because it’s been really a great year so I don’t have to be reminded. But there have been definitely times where you’re seeing the glass half empty and you have to be reminded to say, ‘Thank you for my health. Thank you for the fact that I have a family. Thank you for the fact that I have roof over my head.’ It can be the simplest of things.

Finish the sentence: I am happiest when…
I am happiest when I am eating a delicious meal and laughing with friends. I’m a foodie. I like to eat. It makes me happy.

Sanaa Lathan’s latest film, Repentance, is in theaters now.