Sanaa Lathan doesn't care much for gossip after the year she has had, telling PEOPLE she's developed a "thick skin"


Sanaa Lathan doesn’t care much for gossip after the year she has had.

The actress, who stars in Netflix’s new original film Nappily Ever After, is opening up about how she keeps herself grounded amidst Hollywood gossip. (Tiffany Haddish famously accused her of biting Beyoncé; Lathan addressed the rumors in May, telling Health, “I think it’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever been involved with.”)

When it comes to handling the spotlight and the headlines that come with it, Lathan tells PEOPLE she’s developed “thick skin” over the years.

“It’s almost impossible if you’re on social media to not see stories about yourself,” the 47-year-old actress says. “The good thing is I’ve been in this industry for 20 years so I have thick skin.”

Lathan is active on social media and admits it can be tough to keep her personal life close to her chest.

“I like to keep my private life private,” she says. “In this day and age, there’s a line… everything is just so close. Everything is at the tip of your fingers, they have a peek into your world.”

“I think people are more in control of [their social media] than you think,” Lathan adds, referring to social media influencers and celebrities who showcase their lives on Instagram or Twitter. “If you look at my social media, I try to stay with issues that are surrounding my work or promoting whatever I’m doing professionally. I feel like it’s not healthy to be sharing everything.”

The actress portrays Violet in her new Netflix film — an ambitious woman who sets her sights on attaining the perfect life with the perfect husband and believes having straight hair is the answer.

'Step Up' Inspiration Awards, Los Angeles, USA - 01 Jun 2018
Sanaa Lathan stars in Netflix’s Nappily Ever After
| Credit: John Salangsang/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

Lathan went deep into the role, shaving off her own hair in a visceral scene that delves into the importance of hair for women of color.

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“It was intense because not only was it a one take thing — you can’t go back,” Lathan shares. “I had to really shave it off. Leading up to [the scene] I had a lot of butterflies, but there was only one take. After, even though I was so nervous, it was truly liberating. Hair is such a symbol of beauty in our society and not having to deal with that has been interesting.”

“There’s so much pressure put on us to look a certain way,” she continues. “I love that [the film] deals with hair, which black women have been conditioned to think matters the most — we’ve been told to believe that our hair isn’t “good.” It’s about owning our unique beauty. It’s about discovering yourself.”

Nappily Ever After streams on Netflix on Friday.