On the Come Up is the story of Bri — a 16-year-old gifted rapper who attempts to take the battle rap scene by storm. Bri is focused on uplifting her family and the legacy of her father, a local hip hop legend whose career was cut short by gang violence. But when her first hit song goes viral for all the wrong reasons, she finds herself torn between the authenticity that got her this far and the false persona that the industry wants to impose upon her. The film is based on the New York Times #1 best-selling novel by Angie Thomas.
Sanaa Lathan makes her directorial debut with On The Come Up, which premiered at Toronto International Film Festival. The film also includes Lil Yachty, Mike Epps, Sanaa Lathan, and Cliff “Method Man” Smith.
“We are just now seeing multiple female rappers come up and it’s really exciting to me,” explained Lathan in a chat. “It’s like any area it has to do with misogyny, sexism, and just straight-up prejudice. It’s taken this long to really open up the doors for female MCs and I’m excited.” Author Thomas added, “That there is so much of it as well and it has always been sexism. The expectation that’s placed on women, it’s always going to be criticism on whatever they rap about”.
When asked who is her current favorite female hip-hop artist, Lathan shared “I really like Doja Cat, I think she is the real deal. She is a real artist. I really love Nicki always, I think she is brilliant. Lauryn Hill, I love Tierra Whack. I mean it’s so many of them.”
On The Come Up exposes the challenges, real-life artists face to uphold a public persona for the advancement of their career. Star of the film, Jamila C. Gray who embodies Bri, has been “fortunate” to have a team around her who values her authenticity, however, she understands not everyone is as lucky. “I think as a new actress everything is always in question. But I think it’s great to have people around you that ground you and make sure that you don’t steer away from your values. It can get hard especially- a lot of actresses are desperate for jobs. It’s easy to compromise your integrity, but that’s when good people around you come into play.”
Catch On The Come Up on September 23, 2022 on Paramount +.