One of hip-hop’s foremost feminist voices, Queen Latifah has come a long way from her roots in East Orange, New Jersey, where she was better known by her birth name, Dana Owens.
LGBT History Month Profiles: Queen Latifah
by: Mike Halterman
As you already know, October is LGBT History Month. Each week throughout the month, we will be profiling two of the people named to Equality Forum’s LGBT History Month icon lists, to showcase the great things LGBT people have done, and are doing.
(born March 18, 1970)
One of hip-hop’s foremost feminist voices, Queen Latifah has come a long way from her roots in East Orange, New Jersey, where she was better known by her birth name, Dana Owens. Her stage name, Latifah, which means “delicate” and “very kind” in Arabic, was a word she stumbled across while reading a book when she was eight years old.
At the age of nineteen, her debut album, All Hail the Queen, was released, and it catapulted her to rap and hip hop stardom. She released three more albums in the next decade, and this was considered her golden period, in which she placed her feminist footprint indelibly on the rap and hip hop genres. She refused to be relegated to sidekick status to a male rapper, nor did she allow herself to be presented as oversexualized, paving the way for female artists defining themselves similarly, such as Yo-Yo and Da Brat.
In 1993, she was cast on the FOX sitcom Living Single in the starring role of Khadijah James. The show was a hit and lasted for five years. In 1996 she starred in Set It Off, which was her first leading film role. Roles in Living Out Loud (1998) and Chicago (2002) followed, the latter role garnering her an Academy Award nomination. She made her producing debut in the film The Perfect Holiday (2007). Throughout her acting and music career, she has won a Golden Globe award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Image Awards, and a Grammy Award.
In the 2000s, Queen Latifah released three more albums. The first of them, 2004’s The Dana Owens Album, was a departure from her normal sound and was entirely a jazz album. It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Album. Her 2007 album Trav’lin Light would follow in the same vein. Her much-heralded return to hip hop, Persona (2009), was originally supposed to be named “The L Word,” due to the many gossip stories revolving around her sexual orientation, considered to be one of showbiz’s worst-kept secrets. Despite all this, she has never formally come out to the public.
Currently she hosts her own talk show, The Queen Latifah Show, which premiered on September 16. This is her second foray into talk shows, having hosted one from 1999 to 2001.
Here is a clip from The Queen Latifah Show