The Reign of Queen Latifah – The entertainment industry produces a lot of filler for fads. Names and faces come and go, with the only talent seeming to be just plain luck.
This is not so for Queen Latifah: singer, songwriter, actress, producer (television and records), comedienne, and talk show host. With her skills, talents, and presence, she is a true star.
In the arena of identity politics, too, she has been met with direct aggression and retained gracefulness and class with her own rebuttals. The mid-nineties found Queen Latifah in a musical feud with Foxy Brown, the latter relying mostly on homophobic slurs against the former over the course of several exchanges of “diss album” releases.
Latifah continued to enjoy a successful career, in direct defiance of the safe conventions and formulas for success in the entertainment industry. In a culture over-saturated with the appearance of youth or superficial naivety, especially with women; in an industry that elevated slender bodies and reedy voices almost to the exclusion of any diversity. Latifah has been one of the rare and preciously constant reminders of how to appreciate the sight, sound, and presence of a real woman.
Movie musicals saw a revival in popularity at the turn of the millennium, and Latifah with her many talents stepped up to such challenging roles as Mrs. Morton (a morally ambiguous prison warden) in Chicago, and Motormouth Maybelle (the owner of a record shop, and civil rights protestor in 1960’s Baltimore) in Hairspray. The latter lent her powerful voice to not just one but two empowerment ballads, “Big, Blonde, and Beautiful” and “I Know Where I’ve Been”. While the musical genre shifts are a far cry from her records, Latifah so fully embraced the songs and roles and has proven to be versatile in her craft as well as multi-talented.
Queen Latifah’s personal life and sexual orientation does remain a point of persistent speculation. Regardless, we can only be so glad to have such a vocal ally. In May of 2012, during the 29th annual Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride Festival in California, Queen Latifah announced to the LGBT community that, “Y’all my peeps. I love you!”