Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Stan Lathan intended to follow his brother into the medical field. It wasn’t until he was a student at Pennsylvania State University that he pursued theater directing, guided by his mentor Arthur Hungerford. After graduating, Lathan applied and was accepted to Boston University’s WGBH-TV’s cooperative work-study MFA program. He continued to study theater with Julie Portman at the Om Theater Workshop, directing the Obie-Award winning play Riot!
After a semester at the BU MFA program, he left to direct Theater Company of Boston’s production of Riot!
Off-Broadway. It wasn’t until Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in April 1968 that Lathan began his television directing career when WGBH-TV decided to create programs that spoke directly to the black community.
While at WGBH-TV, Lathan directed Say Brother, and was assistant director on On Being Black, working with directors Rick Edelstein and Fielder Cook. Moving to New York City in 1970, he worked at WNET, directing Black Journal, Sesame Street and Soul! He made his transition to Hollywood and to episodic television in 1974 when executive producer Aaron Ruben hired Lathan to direct Sanford and Son. He then began directing one-hour episodic dramas, including Eight Is Enough, The Waltons, Remington Steele and Hill Street Blues. Lathan has also directed a concert feature, Save the Children (1973); movies for television such as The Trial of the Moke (1978), Go Tell It on the Mountain (1984) and Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1987); and feature films, including Amazing Grace (1974) and Beat Street (1984). However, he is best known for his work on the comedy series Martin, Moesha, The Steve Harvey Show, The Soul Man and Real Husbands of Hollywood; the variety programs Def Comedy Jam and Def Poetry Jam; and the stand-up comedy specials Dave Chappelle: Killin’ Them Softly (2000), Dave Chappelle: For What It’s Worth (2004), and Cedric the Entertainer: Taking You Higher (2007).
For his directorial efforts, Lathan has received four NAACP nominations and three CableACE Awards nominations. Stan Lathan has been a member of the Guild since 1972.