Queen Latifah is a trailblazer when it comes to the worlds of hip-hop, acting and entertaining. The accomplished star has had to overcome many hurdles to accomplish her level of success. Recently during an interview with The View, she discussed some of her toughest experiences and how they molded her to be who she is today. Let’s take a look back at Queen Latifah’s career and find out why she struggled to accept the limits put on her as a girl.
Latifah’s career reads like a checklist of all the things people told her she could not do. She first made her way into the spotlight in the late ’80s. Queen managed to be one of the few female artists to break into the male-dominated worlds of rap and hip-hop. She quickly became a voice for women thanks to hit records like “Ladies First” and “UNITY.” While Salt N Pepa were pushing for the sexual liberation of women in hip-hop, Latifah aimed to show girls that they could take control of their bodies and lives in other ways as well.
When Hip-Hop went Hollywood, Queen Latifah joined the likes of Ice Cube and Will Smith in making the leap. She established herself as a force on the small screen with her hit TV show Living Single. She would then jump to the big screen starring in hit films like “Set It Off”, “Beautyshop” and “Brown Sugar.”
Latifah’s acting career was further proof that she refused to fit a mold, and she dipped her toes in every genre imaginable. From thrillers (Bone Collection) to Rom Coms (Just Wright) to Musicals (Chicago). Latifah has done voice-over work as well in hit films like Ice Age. At the same time, she also stepped into the world of talk shows with two versions of the Queen Latifah Show in the late ’90s and mid-’00s. She also returned to music as a singer and released critically acclaimed jazz and blues albums.
Queen Latifah was shattering beauty and body standards long before artists like Lizzo and Megan Trainor. The beautiful plus-sized star has never been shy to share the screen with a dreamy leading man and take roles usually reserved for her more traditional attractive peers. She has also starred in campaigns for CoverGirls and other major beauty brands.
Latifah has also done a lot for the representation of queer people. While never fully acknowledging her own sexuality, her role in “Set It Off” as a queer character Cleo did a lot for visibility. She did the same when starring as Bessie Smith in a biopic about the Queer Blues icon. Latifah spoke at several points in her career about wanting to protect her privacy and personal life, but in recent years has thanked her partner in speeches. Latifah currently stars on CBS’s The Equalizer, which has already been renewed for an unheard-of 2nd and 3rd season after just wrapping its debut run.
If you’re wondering where Latifah gets the inspiration to jump into so many mediums, she claims it has a lot to do with being a woman and having a hard time dealing with the limitations imposed on her at a young age. “Learning that you’re a girl is one of the hardest things to learn,” she told the ladies of the view. She clarified this, stating “learning you’re a girl in a way that is not necessarily positive” is what she struggled with. This came with the realization that she would not be “allowed” to do a lot of the things that guys do. This also meant that Latifah would have to work twice as hard to achieve the same level of success as her male peers. Even harder in comparison to her white peers as well.
Latifah goes on to thank the women present at the panel but singles out Whoopi Goldberg for her career and achievements. Goldberg, like Latifah, has had an incredible career that’s spanned several decades and a bevy of diverse and unique roles. “We watched you DO IT!” Queen declares to Whoopi when thinking back on her career. “Having Whoopi as an example around me was very, very helpful to me.”
Latifah makes sure to give back and inspire others to want the same. She has the Lancelot H. Owens Scholarship Foundation, a scholarship in honor of her late brother, who passed in a motorcycle accident. Latifah wears his motorcycle keys around her neck in his memory and started the foundation to continue the work he was doing in the community before passing. According to their official site, “The foundation provides financial aid to students from struggling neighborhoods to help them become capable leaders and offer them promising futures through education.”