“What I am is a young black woman from the inner city who is making it, despite the odds, despite the obstacles I’ve had to face in the lifetimes that have come my way.” ~ Queen Latifah in Ladies First
Queen Latifah, born Dana Elaine Owens, is an American musician and actress. Her rapping, singing, and performances in films and television series have earned her an Academy Award nomination, an Emmy Award nomination, one Grammy Award and six Grammy nominations, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Golden Globe Award and two Image Awards. She is the first hip-hop artist to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California.
Dana Elaine Owens was born in Newark, New Jersey on March 18, 1970. Her mother, Rita, was a teacher at Irvington High School, and her father, Lancelot, worked as a police officer. Dana attended a Catholic school in Newark and, at five feet ten inches tall, was a power forward on her high school basketball team. Dana’s cousin gave her what would end up being her stage name in 1978: Latifah, which comes from the Arabic word latifah, which means “delicate” or “very kind.”
As a singer, Queen Latifah is one of world’s most respected female rappers, defining the role of a woman in the music industry. She began her career as a beatboxer for the rap group Ladies Fresh and as a member of the Flavor Unit, a group of MCs who collaborated with DJ Mark the 45 King. Since her debut album, All Hail the Queen, released in 1989, Queen Latifah has earned a Grammy award for Best Solo Rap Performance.
Queen Latifah is also the author of Ladies First: Revelations of a Strong Woman, an autobiographical book about the importance of women being strong, independent, and self-reliant.
In the last few years, Queen Latifa has been most successful as a film and television actress. After receiving and Academy Award nomination for her performance as “Mama Morton” in Chicago, she starred in and produced Disney’s hit movie, Bringing Down the House. She has also starred in and produced a true-life drama called Life Support, which tells the story of a mother who overcomes a drug addiction. The film, which debuted on HBO in March 2010, earned Queen Latifah a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and an Emmy Award nomination.