QUEEN LATIFAH: musician; television and film actress; a label president; an author and entrepreneur. Blessed with style and substance, Queen Latifah has blossomed into a one-woman entertainment conglomerate. Heralded by the press and the industry as a force to be reckoned with, Latifah has quite simply done it all and shows no sign of slowing down.
Latifah has had amazing success in Hollywood in recent years, and became the first hip hop artist to be crowned with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 4, 2006. She received rave reviews, an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, a Golden Globe nomination and a SAG Award nomination for her portrayal as Mama Morton in Miramax’s Chicago. Following Chicago, Latifah starred in Disney’s box office hit Bringing Down the House, on which she also acted as executive producer.
In the TV movie, Life Support, Latifah was both the star and executive producer, in the true-life drama, in which she plays a mother who overcomes an addiction to crack and becomes a positive role model and an AIDS activist in the black community. Latifah received rave reviews as well as an Emmy nomination, a Golden Globe win and a SAG Award win. She starred in Neil Meron and Craig Zadan’s Hairspray playing Motormouth Maybelle and was also seen in the film Mad Money playing opposite Diane Keaton and Katie Holmes.
In Fox Searchlight’s The Secret Life of Bees, Latifah starred alongside Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys and Dakota Fannning. Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, The Secret Life of Bees won the Hollywood Film Award at the Hollywood Film Festival and a People's Choice Award for Favorite Independent Movie in 2009. Queen Latifah starred in the romantic comedy Just Wright, on which she produced as well. She also starred alongside Vince Vaughn and Kevin James in The Dilemma directed by Ron Howard. Recently, she starred in Warner Brothers Joyful Noise alongside Dolly Parton which she produced as well. Currently, Latifah is filming Lifetime’s adaptation of Steel Magnolias, on which she is also an executive producer. She will take on the role of M’Lynn starring alongside Alfre Woodward, Phylicia Rashad, and Jill Scott.
Latifah was seen in Wayne Wang’s The Last Holiday, and starred in MGM’s Beauty Shop (a spin-off of the hit Barbershop), which she also produced. She also appeared in Marc Forster’s Stranger Than Fiction, playing opposite Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman and was the voice of the Wooly Mammoth, Ellie, in Ice Age 2. She will be the voice of Ellie again in Ice Age: Continental Drift which is set to be released on July 13, 2012.
To most people releasing multiple movies would be enough, but Queen Latifah wasn’t satisfied. On September 25th, 2007 Latifah released her album titled Trav’lin Light in which she was nominated for a Grammy. Co-produced by three time Grammy winner, Tommy LiPuma, this album was the long awaited follow up to Latifah’s highly received and Grammy nominated The Dana Owens Album. The platinum-selling album was a collection of timeless classics chosen and covered by the Queen herself. As Latifah demonstrated both in Living Out Loud (1998) and her Oscar-nominated performance in Chicago (2002), her vocal talent is as impressive as her acting. In August 2009 her latest album titled Persona was released. Executive produced by Cool and Dre, Persona brings together the two worlds of Hip Hop and Pop creating a new sound for the Queen.
Queen Latifah is also 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 foray into R&B, Latifah continues to define what a woman in the music industry should be. She has earned six Grammy nominations as well as a Grammy Award for Best Solo Rap Performance in 1994. In 2004, she was nominated for Best Female Rap Solo Performance for Go Head. In 2005, she was nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album for The Dana Owens Album and in 2008 she was nominated for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Trav’lin Light.
And then there’s Flavor Unit Entertainment, a production company owned and operated by Queen Latifah and her partner, Shakim Compere. The company, based in New Jersey, is quickly establishing itself as one of the most important production companies in the film industry. They began by executive producing the box office # 1 hit Bringing Down the House and then continued with Beauty Shop for MGM and The Perfect Holiday for Paramount. They are also co-producing the action-comedy Bad Girls at Paramount with Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Overbrook. They have also produced The Cookout with Lion’s Gate as well as the film Just Wright with Fox Searchlight. On the small screen, they executive produced HBO’s critically acclaimed film Life Support. Flavor Unit Entertainment made a multi-year deal with BET to create new original programming including the original movie The Cookout 2 and its first-ever scripted romantic comedy titled Let’s Stay Together. Most recently it was announced that Flavor Unit Entertainment’s original film Single Ladies, which was exec produced by Queen Latifah, would be expanded it into a weekly scripted dramedy series on VH1, the network's first. Recently, Flavor Unit produced Latifah’s film Joyful Noise. Next up, Flavor Unit will produce an untitled female cop drama on CBS alongside “Criminal Minds” producer Charles Murray as well as a syndicated talk show in 2013 which Latifah will be the host of. Flavor Unit is also currently producing the thriller, House of Bodies, which Latifah will be starring in alongside Terrence Howard and Peter Fonda.
Latifah is also not a stranger to the small screen. Her first television series, Living Single, was a huge success and is currently in syndication. From the small screen, Latifah made a leap to film and her acting skills have earned her the status of leading lady.
Since her screen debut in Spike Lee’s 1991 film Jungle Fever, her film career has taken off. She starred in Set it Off, which earned her a nomination for a Spirit Award in the Best Actress category and co-starred with Holly Hunter and Danny DeVito in the critically acclaimed Living Out Loud. In 1999, she was seen in Universal’s The Bone Collector directed by Philip Noyce starring Denzel Washington.
In addition to music, film and television, Queen Latifah has also written a book on self-esteem entitled Ladies First: Revelations of a Strong Woman. Queen Latifah’s new book, Put on Your Crown: Life Lessons from the Queen, was released in May 2010.
Queen Latifah is diligent in her pursuit of excellence, as is evident by the awards she has received for her work in film and music. Her sincere concern for others is revealed by the generous amount of time and money that 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.