• Van Lathan is a former TMZ senior producer and current podcast host of "Van Lathan's The Red Pill"
• He graduated from college in 2003 majoring in Political Science and Creative Writing
• He rose to fame in 2018 for his live confrontation with Kanye West on national television, voicing his opinion about his "slavery was a choice" comment
• He is currently developing new shows with Bill Simmons' media company The Ringer, and has a weekly podcast of his own
• His current net worth is estimated at over $2 million, with an annual salary of around $80,000
Van Lathan is a podcast host of “Van Lathan’s The Red Pill”, and a former TMZ senior producer whose ticket to fame was his highly publicized disagreement with Kanye West’s ‘slavery was a choice’ comment, aired live on national TV.
Early life and family
Van Lathan is of African-American ethnicity, and was born 16 April 1980, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA, to his parents Terry and Christal Ellis; he has one younger sister, Ebony Rage Lathan. Even as a young child, he was known to be outspoken and confident in voicing his opinions. From one of his TV interviews, he said that it was his mother who made him feel that it was okay to be whoever he wants to be, and his father who demanded that he become a ‘somebody.’
No specific details are available regarding his school records, except that he graduated from college in 2003 majoring in Political Science and Creative Writing.
After college, Lathan started his career as a guide for the popular TMZ Celebrity Tour, conducting tourists around key Hollywood iconic places, while riding inside a TMZ-customized bus. He was part of the team which developed the concept of the tour, which covers a 30-mile area around Beverly Hills and Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.
In 2011, TMZ founder and host Harvey Robert Levin, was impressed with Lathan’s work, and decided to include him in the television show. He started at the bottom doing field camera tasks, dabbled in sports journalism, and then worked his way up to become a senior producer.
Confrontation with Kanye West
Van Lathan became an overnight sensation in 2018, when American rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur Kanye West asked the TMZ TV staff if he was thinking and feeling freely when he made the infamous ‘400 years of slavery was a choice’ comment live on national TV.
Lathan stood up and proceeded to verbalize his disappointment on Kanye’s statement and said, ‘While you are making music and being an artist and living the life that you’ve earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives.’ He said that the African-American community was bereft of choice. He was clearly unbelievably upset and disheartened that Kanye, ‘morphed into something that is not real.’ Lathan received much love and support by speaking passionately and eloquently about his views. The live confrontation on TV with Kanye opened more doors for Lathan, with numerous TV and radio guest appearances.
The Red Pill Podcast
Overloaded with ideas and opinions, Van Lathan decided to produce his own weekly podcast in addition to the TMZ show he was doing. The business of television limits the topics that can be discussed, and so the podcast is the perfect venue for Lathan to convey his opinions with more diversity. The “Van Lathan’s The Red Pill” is aptly named, as it was inspired by the red pill concept in Keanu Reeves’ box-office hit movie, “The Matrix,” which refers to being awakened by the brutal realities of the world that we all live in.
In October of 2019, Van Lathan was fired from TMZ after having a heated political debate with colleague Michael Bobcock; the argument in the newsroom was edited out from the TMZ Live show.
View this post on Instagram
TMZ Fires Van Lathan After Heated Argument Over Politics – Written by: @RaquelHarrisTV ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Longtime TMZ journalist and personality #VanLathan has been fired from the outlet after getting into a heated argument with his co-worker #MichaelBabcock. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Page Six reports the verbal altercation happened about a week and a half ago when the two appeared on “TMZ Live” together and had some form of disagreement revolved around politics. The footage of the two arguing wasn’t published, but sources say the topic has become an issue between them. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Sources say Lathan confronted Babcock in the newsroom after the segment ended and allegedly told him there would be trouble if he “ever embarrassed [Lathan] like that again.” People close to the incident say Lathan met with TMZ’s legal team, and he was suspended, then a few days later, he was let go, Page Six reports. One insider explained TMZ’s heads often use the site’s high-pressure work environment to stir up employees and pit them against one another in order to get high ratings. “Van’s not mean-spirited. Anything that happened is a product of that environment,” said an insider. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Sources went on to defend Lathan, saying he has been a huge part of TMZ’s success over the past few years, and they were shocked to see he was fired over the incident. Lathan, Babcock, nor TMZ have commented. But Lathan tweeted in response to the news making headlines, saying, “I’m okay. Promise you guys. Seriously,” Lathan wrote about the argument.
Apparently, Lathan confronted Bobcock telling him not to embarrass him again. There had been many speculations about why he was dismissed immediately – one theory was that Lathan put Bobcock in a chokehold during the argument. Another one was that Harvey Robert Levin was a Trump supporter, and Lathan was highly critical of the president. There was no official statement released by TMZ. Lathan just assured his supporters via his social media accounts that he is quite okay.
Currently, people can watch him through his weekly podcast, “Van Lathan’s The Red Pill.” He recently joined Bill Simmons’ media company called The Ringer, and is developing new shows with them.
Van Lathan might be outspoken and generous in sharing his opinions, but when it comes to his personal life, he is very private. Little is known as to whether he is single, married, or just in a complicated relationship. He would now and then mention his father and mother in his interviews, but with few details. His being opinionated would often not sit well with his father, and there was a time when he was not on good terms with him. His mother, on the other hand, is very much supportive, not only with his life choices but also with his chosen career.
Lathan is very active on social media, using both Twitter and Instagram regularly to spread awareness on social issues, and communicate with his followers, but he rarely mentions his family.
He has around 130,000 followers on Twitter and about 430,000 on Instagram.
He likes watching mob movies and television series. He loves Al Pacino’s “Scarface”, but thinks “The Godfather” is better quality-wise. He also prefers “The Wire” over “Breaking Bad,” but he unquestionably thinks “Sopranos” is way better than the two.
Appearance and weight loss
Van Lathan has black hair and black eyes. He went through a weight loss journey that continues to inspire many people. He had an epiphany moment when he felt his heart rate went way up just because he was having a hard time getting out of his car.
He weighed himself inside a Walmart store using a 300-pound weighing scale only to watch it make a 180-degree turn and stop at 50lbs. Not convinced of the scale’s efficiency, he proceeded to a GNC store to weigh himself again. It turned out that he weighs around 365lbs (165kgs) and at 6ft 4ins (1.9m) tall, he was overweight. He decided to do something about it, and today, having adopted a healthy lifestyle, he weighs around 185lbs (83kgs).
Net worth and salary
Being in the entertainment world for some time now, he’s racked up quite a hefty net worth estimated in early 2020 at over $2 million. Some sources speculate that his annual income is a minimum of $80,000, especially now that he produces and monetizes his own podcast.