In honor of Women’s History Month, it is only befitting to “Set it Off” with the New Jersey native with a wide range of talent, none other than, Queen Latifah. Queen reigns supreme as singer-songwriter, rapper, actress, comedienne, author (of a book on self-esteem entitled Ladies First: Revelations of a Strong Woman.), entrepreneur and producer of one of VH1’s newest comedy series, Single Ladies. She is also the first hip hop artist to be crowned with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 4, 2006. Queen Latifah is one of music’s most well respected rappers. From her ground breaking 1989 debut All Hail the Queen, which set the visual and contextual standard for female rappers, to her bold incursion into R&B, Latifah continues to define what a woman in the music industry should be. She has earned four Grammy nominations as well as a Grammy Award for Best Solo Rap Performance in 1994.
Queen Latifah, born Dana Owens, to Rita, a teacher at Irvington High School (her daughter’s alma mater), and Lancelot Owens, Sr., a police officer, her parents divorced when Latifah was ten – Latifah has used her music to not only uplift women, but to empower them as well – Ladies First and U.N.I.T.Y are just a couple of examples that embody that powerful strength. She demonstrates the power of women in various aspects as an Oscar-nominated actress and a CoverGirl who has her own makeup line for women of color.
Her accolades include:
- Golden Globe award for: Life Support ,
- Two Screen Actors Guild Awards for: Life Support and Hairspray,
- Two Image Awards for: Life Support and Bringing Down the House,
- Grammy Award for: U.N.I.T.Y.
- Six additional Grammy nominations
- Emmy Award nomination for: Life Support Academy Award nomination for: Chicago.
- Her film activity includes over 40 films in which she starred, produced or provided the soundtrack.
She also owns and operates a New Jersey based production company, Flavor Unit Entertainment with her partner, Shakim Compere, which has become one of the most important production companies in the film industry.
Queen Latifah’s life has not been without drama or controversy. Latifah’s older brother, Lancelot Jr., was killed in 1992 in an accident involving a motorcycle that Latifah had recently bought him – Latifah still wears the key to the motorcycle around her neck. 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 1993, Latifah was the victim of a carjacking, which also resulted in the shooting of a friend. In 1996, she was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and possession of a loaded handgun. In early 2003, Latifah had breast reduction surgery which downsized her K size breasts to a double D cup size, as a way to reduce back and shoulder pain. Although her sexuality has been questioned, she has yet to confirm or deny the rumors of being gay and frankly I don’t see the point or need for her to do so, her personal business, with an emphasis on personal is private and her own business – it neither adds to nor diminishes her creative talent.
Dana “Queen Latifah” Owens strives for excellence, in the film and music industry, as well as her personal life She donates to worthwhile charitable organizations. Every year, Queen Latifah serves as co-chairman for the Lancelot H. Owens Scholarship Foundation, Inc. Established by her mother, Rita Owens, to perpetuate the memory of a loving son and brother, the foundations provides scholarships to students who excel scholastically, but are limited in financial resources. March 2012, it was reported that Latifah planned on adopting her first child from Africa, still there appears to be no signs of Latifah slowing down anytime soon – whatever endeavor the Queen chooses to undertake, there is no doubt she will continue to successfully rule with the style and grace.
Additional information can be found on her website, http://queenlatifah.com/