African Americans are Making History and a Better Future
Dana Elaine Owens (born March 18, 1970), better known by her stage name Queen Latifah, has long been considered one of hip-hop’s pioneer feminists. Her work in music, film, and television has earned her a Golden Globe award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Image Awards, a Grammy Award, six additional Grammy nominations, an Emmy Award nomination and an Academy Award nomination. She most recently hosted her own talk show, The Queen Latifah Show, which was canceled in 2014.
Latifah was born in Newark, New Jersey, and lived primarily in East Orange, New Jersey. Latifah was raised in the Baptist faith but attended Catholic school in Newark. She found her stage name, Latifah, meaning “delicate” and “very kind”, in an Arabic book of names when she was eight. She started beat boxing for the hip-hop group Ladies Fresh and was one of the members of the original version of the Flavor Unit. Fab 5 Freddy, host of Yo! MTV Raps, was given the groups demo which he passed along to Tommy Boy Music.
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. 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. It was nominated for a Grammy in the “Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album”
From 1993 to 1998, Latifah had a starring role on Living Single. she also wrote and performed its theme music. She began her film career in supporting roles in the 1991 and 1992 films House Party 2, Juice and Jungle Fever. She also had recurring roles during the second season (1991–1992) of the NBC hit The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Latifah appeared in the 1996 box-office hit, Set It Off and subsequently 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.
You May Not Know
Latifah’s older brother, Lancelot Jr., was killed in 1992 in an accident involving a motorcycle that Latifah had recently bought him. n 1995, Latifah was the victim of a carjacking, which also resulted in the shooting of her boyfriend, Sean Moon. n 1996, Latifah was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and possession of a loaded handgun. In early 2003, Latifah had breast reduction surgery to reduce back and shoulder pain. 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.