Queen Latifah was born as Princess Latifah in Harlem, New York City. She grew up learning to read music from her father, a musician who played the organ. Her family, which included her mother and her two sisters, encouraged her love of music. Growing up in poverty in a part of the city that was poor and crime-ridden, Queen Latifah’s life was far from happy, but she found strength in the people around her.
Queen Latifah had several opportunities to pursue a career in music, but she ultimately turned towards performing music. She appeared on the reality TV show “So You Think You Can Dance”, and then became one of the first African-American pop stars when rappers such as P Diddy, Akon, and R. Kelly rose to popularity. In 1991, Latifah released her first album, Allure, which featured singles like “Wake Up Call” and “Fade Away”. Her video for the song “Wake Up Call” went platinum, while her follow-up songs “Fade Away” and “Love Is in the air” didn’t chart as high. Queen Latifah then went onto sign with Def Jam Recordings and was involved in several projects with the hip-hop artist, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the rap group, The Roots.
Latifah finally garnered enough popularity to be nominated for a BET Award for the song “Who’s That Lady?” Though Latifah did not win, the song nonetheless became a classic and remains popular to this day. Queen Latifah was also nominated for an additional award for her performance on the song “Xicanation”, which was also a major success. She later went on to star in her own successful film, Born This Way, as well as appearing in several other movies and shows. The many projects that she has pursued since her early years in the hip-hop industry have all helped to solidify her place in the pop culture history books.
Latifah has also been a popular and beloved performer on the stage, where she has wowed crowds with her fantastic vocal abilities. She has also established a solid career for herself as an actress, with notable roles in such films as Wedding Rappers, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In fact, Queen Latifah ranks sixth among all recording artists of all time in the U.S. with the number one record, Best New Female Artist, for her song, “Honey, I’m Just a Honey”. Her role as herself in the film Black Rain features her singing an original song, “Honey, I’m a Chimney” which goes on to become a number one hit for The Hits.
Queen Latiah’s impressive filmography further elevated her into stardom status when in February of 2021 she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Rihanna in the movie epic, The Great Bazaar. The award recognized her as the third best actress in the year, behind actress Jennifer Garner and singer Lea Michele. In that film, Queen Latifah plays the role of a villainous character, Blackmailer, who forces the lead female character, a nightclub singer played by Jennifer Garner, into a position of servitude and begins to manipulate her. Queen Latifah was up for the award herself, but ultimately lost out to Meryl Streep for her role as the loveable, loving wife of Richard III in the Shakespeare play King Lear.
Latifa then began working on her own movies, most notably Black Rain, which did not do well at the box office despite excellent casting. However, Queen Latifah impressed audiences again in her performance as Shonda Rhimes in the film cast of ABC’s hit drama Once Upon a Time in New York. She appeared in the second season of Once Upon a Time, playing the role of the mysterious witch L.J. udge. In that series, Queen Latifah also showed her excellent acting skills, garnering additional accolades for her work in the show including an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series.