Queen Latifah

"Latifah" redirects here. For other uses, see Latifa.

Queen Latifah

Latifah performing at the 2nd Annual BET Honors
Born Dana Elaine Owens
(1970-03-18) March 18, 1970[1]
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
Residence Colts Neck, New Jersey, U.S.
Rumson, New Jersey, U.S.
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Occupation Singer, songwriter, rapper, actress, model, talk show host
Years active 1988–present
Home town East Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
Website www.queenlatifah.com

Musical career

Genres R&B, soul, jazz, hip hop, gospel, dance
Instruments Vocals, piano
Labels Verve, A&M/Interscope Records, Motown/PolyGram Records, Tommy Boy/Warner Bros. Records, Disney
Associated acts Andrae Crouch and his Choir, L.A. Mass Choir, Lakim Shabazz, Apache, Chill Rob G, DJ Mark the 45 King, Native Tongues, De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest

Dana Elaine Owens (born March 18, 1970),[2] known professionally by her stage name Queen Latifah, is an American rapper, songwriter, singer, actress, model, television producer, record producer, and talk show host. Born in Newark, New Jersey, she signed with Tommy Boy Records in 1989 and released her debut album All Hail the Queen the same year, featuring the hit single "Ladies First". Her second album, Nature of a Sista (1991), was her final album with Tommy Boy Records.

Latifah starred as Khadijah James on the FOX sitcom Living Single, from 1993 to 1998. Her third album Black Reign (1993), spawned the single "U.N.I.T.Y.", which won a Grammy Award and was successful on the Billboard Hot 100. She then starred in the lead role of Set It Off (1996) and released her fourth album, Order in the Court, in 1998, with Motown Records. Latifah gained mainstream success and acclaim with her performance in the film Chicago (2002), receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Latifah released her fifth album The Dana Owens Album in 2004, and has since appeared in a number of films, such as Bringing Down the House (2003), Taxi (2004), Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2005), Beauty Shop (2005), Last Holiday (2006), Hairspray (2007) and Joyful Noise (2012). In 2007 and 2009, she released two more studio albums – Trav'lin' Light and Persona. She created the daytime talk show The Queen Latifah Show, which ran from late 2013 to early 2015 on CBS. Latifah received critical acclaim for her portrayal of blues singer Bessie Smith in the HBO film Bessie (2015), which she co-produced, winning the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Television Movie.

She has long been considered one of hip-hop's pioneer feminists.[3] Queen Latifah received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006. Latifah's work in music, film and television has earned her a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two NAACP Image Awards, an Academy Award nomination and sales of over two million records.

Early life

Latifah was born in Newark, New Jersey on March 18, 1970, and lived primarily in East Orange, New Jersey.[4] She is the daughter of Rita (née Bray), a teacher at Irvington High School (Latifah's alma mater) and Lancelot Owens, Sr, a police officer.[5][6][7] Her parents divorced when Latifah was ten.[7] Latifah was raised in the Baptist faith[8] and attended Catholic school in Newark, New Jersey.[9][10] Her stage name, Latifah (لطيفة laţīfa), meaning "delicate" and "very kind" in Arabic, she found in an Arabic book of names when she was eight.[7] Always a tall girl, the 5-foot-10-inch (1.78 m) Latifah was a power forward on her high school girls basketball team.[11][12] She performed the number "Home" from the musical The Wiz in a grammar school play.[13]

Music career

1988–1989: Career beginnings

She started beat boxing for the hip-hop group Ladies Fresh and was an original member of the Flavor Unit, which, at that time, was a crew of MCs grouped around producer DJ King Gemini, who made a demo recording of Queen Latifah's rap Princess of the Posse. He gave the recording to Fab 5 Freddy, the host of Yo! MTV Raps. The song got the attention of Tommy Boy Music employee Dante Ross, who signed Latifah and in 1988 issued her first single, "Wrath of My Madness".

1989–2002: Rap & Hip-Hop

Latifah made her mark in hip-hop by rapping about issues of black women. Her songs covered topics including domestic violence, harassment on the streets, and relationship problems.[14] Freddy helped Latifah sign with Tommy Boy Records, which released Latifah's first album All Hail the Queen in 1989, when she was nineteen.[7] That year, she appeared as Referee on the UK label Music of Life album 1989—The Hustlers Convention (live). She received a Candace Award from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women in 1992.[15] In 1998, co-produced by Ro Smith, now CEO of Def Ro Inc., she released her fourth hip-hop album Order in the Court, which was released by Motown Records. Latifah was also a member of the hip-hop collective Native Tongues.

2003–2009: Change to traditional singing

After Order in the Court, Latifah shifted primarily to singing soul music and jazz standards, which she had used sparingly in her previous hip-hop-oriented records. In 2004, she released the soul/jazz standards The Dana Owens Album. On July 11, 2007, Latifah sang at the famed Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles as the headlining act in a live jazz concert. Before a crowd of more than 12,400, she was backed by a 10-piece live orchestra and three backup vocalists, which was billed as the Queen Latifah Orchestra. Latifah performed new arrangements of standards including "California Dreaming", first made popular by 1960s icons the Mamas & the Papas. Later in 2007, Latifah released an album titled Trav'lin' Light. Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Joe Sample, George Duke, Christian McBride, and Stevie Wonder made guest appearances.[16] It was nominated for a Grammy in the "Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album" category.[17]

In 2009, Latifah, along with the NJPAC Jubilation Choir,[18] recorded the title track on the album Oh, Happy Day: An All-Star Music Celebration, covering the song that the Edwin Hawkins Singers made popular in 1969.[19]

2008–present: Return to Hip-Hop

In 2008, Latifah was asked if she would make another hip-hop album. She was quoted saying the album was done already and it would be called "All Hail the Queen II". The following year, in 2009, she released her album Persona. The song "Cue the Rain" was released as the album's lead single. She also has a song with Missy Elliott.[20] 2011 saw Queen Latifah sing "Who Can I Turn To" in a duet with Tony Bennett for his album "Duets II".[21] In January 2012, while appearing on 106 & Park with Dolly Parton, to promote Joyful Noise, Latifah stated that she had been working on a new album.

Film and television

1991–2001: Early career

From 1993 to 1998, Latifah had a starring role on Living Single, the FOX sitcom, which gained high ratings among black audiences; she also wrote and performed its theme music. Her mother Rita played her mother on-screen. She began her film career in supporting roles in the 1991 and 1992 films House Party 2, Juice and Jungle Fever. She had her own talk show, The Queen Latifah Show, from 1999 to 2001 and revamped in 2013. On January 6, 2014, The Queen Latifah Show was renewed for a second season. However, on November 21, 2014, Sony Pictures Television canceled Latifah's show due to declining ratings. Production of the series closed down, taking effect on December 18, 2014, leaving new episodes that were broadcast until March 6, 2015. She also had recurring roles during the second season (1991–1992) of the NBC hit The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She made a guest role as herself on Hangin' with Mr. Cooper in 1993. Latifah appeared in the 1996 box-office hit, Set It Off, and had a supporting role in the Holly Hunter film Living Out Loud (1998). She played the role of Thelma in the 1999 movie The Bone Collector, alongside Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie.

2002–present: Mainstream success

Queen Latifah performing at the "Kids Inaugural: We Are the Future" concert in 2009

Although Latifah had previously received some critical acclaim, she gained mainstream success after being cast as Matron "Mama" Morton in Chicago, a musical film that won the Academy Award for Best Picture.[7] Latifah herself received the nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role, but lost to co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones.[7] Latifah is one of three hip-hop/R&B artists to receive an Academy Award nomination in an acting category. The others are Will Smith (Best Actor, Ali, 2001, and The Pursuit of Happyness, 2006), and Jamie Foxx, (Best Actor, Ray, and Best Supporting Actor Collateral, both in 2004, also winning the first).

In 2003, she starred with Steve Martin in the film Bringing Down the House, which was a major success at the box office.[7] She also recorded a song "Do Your Thing" for the soundtrack. Since then, she has had both leading and supporting roles in a multitude of films that received varied critical and box office receptions, including films such as Scary Movie 3, Barbershop 2: Back in Business, Taxi, Kung Faux, Beauty Shop, and Hairspray. In early 2006, Latifah appeared in a romantic comedy/drama entitled Last Holiday.[7] Film critic Richard Roeper stated that "this is the Queen Latifah performance I've been waiting for ever since she broke into movies".[22] Also in 2006, Latifah voiced Ellie, a friendly mammoth, in the animated film, Ice Age: The Meltdown (her first voice appearance in an animated film), and appeared in the drama Stranger Than Fiction.

The summer of 2007 brought Latifah triple success in the big-screen version of the Broadway smash hit Hairspray, in which she acted, sang, and danced. The film rated highly with critics. It starred, among others, John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Allison Janney, James Marsden, Christopher Walken, and Zac Efron. Also in 2007, she portrayed an HIV-positive woman in the film Life Support, a role for which she garnered her first Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and an Emmy[23] nomination. For her work, Queen Latifah received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, on January 4, 2006, located at 6915 Hollywood Blvd.

Latifah produced the 2007 film The Perfect Holiday. In addition to producing the film, Latifah starred alongside Terrence Howard, Morris Chestnut, Gabrielle Union, Charles Q. Murphy, Jill Marie Jones, and Faizon Love.[24] In 2008, Latifah appeared in the crime comedy Mad Money opposite Academy Award-winner Diane Keaton as well as Katie Holmes and Ted Danson. She appeared on Saturday Night Live on October 4, 2008, as moderator Gwen Ifill in a comedic sketch depicting the vice-presidential debate between then-Senator Joe Biden and then-Governor Sarah Palin.[25] In 2009, Latifah was a presenter at the 81st Academy Awards, presenting the segment honoring film professionals who had died during 2008 and singing "I'll Be Seeing You" during the montage. Latifah spoke at Michael Jackson's memorial service in Los Angeles. She also hosted the 2010 People's Choice Awards. Latifah sang America the Beautiful at Super Bowl XLIV hosted in Miami, Florida on February 7, 2010, with Carrie Underwood. Latifah hosted the 2010 BET Awards on June 27, 2010. She starred with Dolly Parton in Joyful Noise (2012).[26] In June 2011, Latifah received an honorary doctorate degree in Humane Letters from Delaware State University in Dover, Delaware. On September 16, 2013, Latifah premiered her own syndicated daytime television show titled The Queen Latifah Show.[27][28] On January 26, 2014, Latifah officiated the weddings of 33 same-sex and opposite-sex couples during a performance of "Same Love" by Macklemore at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards.[29] In 2015, Latifah received a Best Actress Emmy nomination for her lead role as Bessie Smith in Bessie, an HBO film which received a total of 12 Emmy nominations.[30]


Latifah's music usually contains hip-hop, jazz and gospel and has the elements of R&B, soul, and dance. She possesses a two-octave vocal range. Queen Latifah is a contralto, she has the ability to rap and sing. Her biggest musical influences are EPMD, KRS-One, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, and Run–D.M.C..[31] She also cites Bessie Smith as one of her influences.

Products and endorsements

Latifah is a celebrity spokesperson for CoverGirl cosmetics, Curvation ladies underwear, Pizza Hut and Jenny Craig.[32] She represents her own line of cosmetics for women of color called the CoverGirl Queen Collection.[33] Latifah has also launched a perfume line called "Queen" and "Queen of Hearts".

Personal life

Raised in East Orange, New Jersey, Latifah has been a resident of Colts Neck, New Jersey; Rumson, New Jersey and Beverly Hills, California.[34]

Latifah's older brother, Lancelot Jr., was killed in 1992 in an accident involving a motorcycle that Latifah had recently bought him.[7] In a 2006 interview, it was told Latifah still wears the key to the motorcycle around her neck,[7] visible throughout her performance in her sitcom Living Single. She also dedicated Black Reign to him. In her 1999 autobiography, Ladies First: Revelations of a Strong Woman, Latifah discussed how her brother's death had led to a bout of depression and drug abuse, from which she later recovered.

In 1995, Latifah was the victim of a carjacking, which also resulted in the shooting of her boyfriend, Sean Moon.[35]

In 1996, she was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and possession of a loaded handgun.[36] In 2002, she was arrested for driving under the influence in Los Angeles County.[37] She was placed on three years' probation after being convicted.[38]

She also works out with a trainer and kickboxes.[39]

Latifah was asked by Maya Angelou, who was unable to attend, to recite a poem written by Angelou at the memorial service for Michael Jackson in July 2009.

Feud with Foxy Brown

Disagreements between Foxy Brown and Queen Latifah ensued in mid-1996, where media reports indicated that Brown was a prime target in Latifah's diss record "Name Callin'", which was featured in the movie soundtrack Set It Off.[40] In response, Brown made allegations of Latifah "checking her out" at musical events and had even gone further to question Latifah's sexuality in various public radio interviews. In 1998, Brown released a diss record titled "10% Dis", where she continually questioned Latifah's sexuality and accused her of being jealous.[41][42]

By late spring of 1998, Latifah responded to Brown through another diss record titled, "Name Callin' Part II".[43][44] In the record, Latifah disses Brown about her heavy reliance on sex-appeal, in which she implies that Brown has to rely on skimpy outfits to hide her "half-assed flow".[43][45] Foxy Brown retaliated via a response-diss record titled "Talk to Me", in which Brown made fun of the ratings of Latifah's television talk show and went on to make various homophobic remarks to both Latifah and then–newcomer Queen Pen.[46]

A significant part of media dubbed Latifah as "the winner" of the feud.[44] Hip-hop magazine ego trip stated that Latifah won the feud with her diss record "Name Callin' Part II" and added that she showed that "the lady's still first", in reference to Latifah's 1990 single, "Ladies First".[44] In 2000, Brown and Latifah reconciled; to show truce, Brown performed her song "Na Na Be Like" on The Queen Latifah Show.[47]

Legacy and influence

In her music career, she sold nearly 2 million records worldwide.[48][49] Queen Latifah has been dubbed as the "Queen of Jazz-Rap". She became the first female hip-hop recording artist to get nominated for an Oscar. The Root ranked her at number 35 on The Root 100 list.[50] Latifah was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006 and the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2011.[51] She is a recipient of a Grammy Award, with six nominations, a Golden Globe Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, with two nominations, two NAACP Image Awards, including thirteen nominations, one Emmy Award, with three nominations and an Academy Award nomination. Queen Latifah became an influence to R&B, soul, and hip-hop artists, such as Eve,[52] Da Brat,[53] Lil' Kim,[54] Fugees,[55] Darius Brown-Bey, Jill Scott,[56] Lauryn Hill,[57] Missy Elliott,[58] Remy Ma,[59] Ivy Queen,[60] Foxy Brown,[61] Ms. Dynamite,[62] and Naughty by Nature.[63]



Queen Latifah, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu joined together to create and own the rights to the Sugar Water Festival Tour, LLC. All three singers toured together, while inviting music duo Floetry in 2005 and singer Kelis in 2006 as opening acts. Comedian/actress Mo'Nique served as host for the 2006 Sugar Water Tour.



Year Film Role Notes
1991 Jungle Fever Waitress
1991 House Party 2 Zora
1992 Juice Ruffhouse M.C.
1993 Who's the Man? Cameo role
1993 My Life Theresa
1996 Set It Off Cleopatra 'Cleo' Sims
1997 Hoodlum Sulie
1998 Living Out Loud Liz Bailey
1998 Sphere Alice "Teeny" Fletcher
1999 Bone Collector, TheThe Bone Collector Thelma
1999 Bringing Out the Dead Dispatcher Love
2002 Chicago Matron "Mama" Morton
2002 Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio Dove (English voice)
2002 Brown Sugar Francine
2002 Country Bears, TheThe Country Bears Cha-Cha
2003 Scary Movie 3 Aunt Shaneequa/The Oracle
2003 Bringing Down the House Charlene Morton Producer
2004 Taxi Belle
2004 Cookout, TheThe Cookout Security Guard Also producer
2004 Barbershop 2: Back in Business Gina Norris
2005 Beauty Shop Gina Norris Producer
2006 Stranger than Fiction Penny Escher
2006 Ice Age: The Meltdown Ellie Voice
2006 Last Holiday Georgia Byrd
2007 Hairspray Motormouth Maybelle
2007 Perfect Holiday, TheThe Perfect Holiday Mrs. Christmas Producer
2008 Mad Money Nina Brewster
2008 What Happens in Vegas... Dr. Twitchell
2008 Secret Life of Bees, TheThe Secret Life of Bees August Boatwright
2009 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Ellie Voice role
2010 Valentine's Day Paula Thomas
2010 Just Wright Leslie Wright Producer
2011 Dilemma, TheThe Dilemma Susan Warner
2012 Ice Age: Continental Drift Ellie Voice
2012 Joyful Noise Vi Rose Hill
2013 House of Bodies Nicole Executive Producer
Netflix Instant Exclusive
2014 22 Jump Street Mrs. Dickson
2016 Miracles from Heaven Angela
2016 Ice Age: Collision Course Ellie Voice

Television film

Year Title Role Notes
1998 Mama Flora's Family Diana
2002 Living with the Dead Midge Harmon
2005 Muppets' Wizard of Oz, TheThe Muppets' Wizard of Oz Aunt Em
2007 Life Support Ana Wallace Producer
2012 Steel Magnolias M'Lynn
2015 Bessie Bessie Smith
2015 The Wiz Live! The Wiz NBC Musical based on The Wiz


Year Title Role Notes
1991 Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, TheThe Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Dee Dee / Marissa Redman 2 episodes
1993–1998 Living Single Khadijah James Lead Role
1999–2001 The Queen Latifah Show Host Also Creator, Executive Producer
2001 Spin City Robin Jones 1 episode
2004 Eve Simone 1 episode
2004 Fairly OddParents, TheThe Fairly OddParents Pam Dromeda 1 episode
2005 47th Annual Grammy Awards Host TV Special
2008 Sweet Blackberry Presents 1 episode
2008 Entourage Herself 1 episode
2010 30 Rock Regina Bookman 2 episodes
2011–2012 Single Ladies Sharon Love Recurring; 4 episodes
Also Executive Producer
2011 Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Ellie Voice
2012 Let's Stay Together Bobbie 1 episode
Also Executive Producer
2013–2015 The Queen Latifah Show Host Also Creator, Executive Producer
2014 Hot In Cleveland Aunt Esther Jean Johnson 1 episode
2016 Ice Age: The Great Egg-Scapade Ellie Voice
2016-Present Star Carlotta Brown Main Cast

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1995 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Television Actress
Living Single
1996 American Black Film Festival Best Actress
Set It Off
Independent Spirit Award Best Supporting Female Nominated
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Won
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Television Actress
Living Single
1999 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Living Out Loud
2000 Black Reel Award Best Supporting Actress
The Bone Collector
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
2002 Academy Award Best Supporting Actress
BAFTA Award Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated
BET Award Best Actress Won
Black Reel Award Best Supporting Actress Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award Best Cast Won
Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Nominated
MTV Movie Award Best Female Performance Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award Best Cast Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Won
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice Movie Actress Nominated
Movie Breakout Star Nominated
Satellite Award Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Living with the Dead
2003 BET Award Best Actress
Brown Sugar
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
BET Award Best Actress
Bringing Down the House
BET Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Box Office Movie Nominated
Black Reel Award Best Actress Nominated
MTV Movie Award Best Female Performance Nominated
Best Fight (shared with Missi Pyle) Nominated
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Won
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award Favorite Movie Actress Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice Movie Actress – Comedy Won
Choice Movie Breakout Star – Female Nominated
Choice Movie Chemistry (shared with Eugene Levy) Nominated
2005 BET Award Best Actress
The Cookout
Outstanding Writing for a Theatrical Film Nominated
Best Actress
Beauty Shop
Black Movie Award Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice Movie Actress – Comedy Nominated
Choice Hissy Fit Nominated
Choice Rap Artist in a Movie Nominated
2006 Black Reel Award Outstanding Actress Nominated
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
BET Award Best Actress
Last Holiday
Black Reel Award Outstanding Actress Nominated
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice Movie Actress – Comedy Nominated
Choice Movie: Liplock Nominated
2007 BET Award Best Actress
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award Best Song Nominated
Best Cast Won
Hollywood Film Festival Award Best Ensemble Cast Won
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
Palm Springs International Film Festival Ensemble Cast Won
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
Life Support
Gracie Allen Award Outstanding Female Lead – Drama Series or Special Won
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Won
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie Nominated
Prism Award Performance in a TV Movie or Miniseries Nominated
Satellite Award Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Won
2008 BET Award Best Actress
The Perfect Holiday
Black Reel Award Outstanding Actress
The Secret Life of Bees
2009 Hollywood Film Festival Award Best Ensemble Cast Won
Black Reel Award Outstanding Ensemble Nominated
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
2010 Teen Choice Award Choice Movie Actress: Romantic Comedy
Valentine's Day
Black Reel Award Best Actress
Just Wright
Best Original or Adapted Song (for the song "Champion") Nominated
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice Movie Actress: Romantic Comedy Nominated
2015 Critics' Choice Television Award Best Actress in a Movie/Miniseries
Golden Globe Award Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Television Movie (as a producer) Won
Teen Choice Award Choice Movie Actress: Romantic Comedy Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Won
Satellite Award Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Nominated


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