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Queen Latifah speaks to Impact Worldwide (Impactww.com)

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Queen Latifah speaks to Impact Worldwide (Impactww.com)

 

Latifah: All Hail The Queen

 

In a time when every rapper and R&B singer under the sun is making the transition from music to film, Queen Latifah is one of the O.G.’s in the game. Having earned the respect of the hip hop community in a time when female rappers were a novelty and talent took precedence over appearance, she has continued to be a woman of many firsts. The first female rapper to ever have an album certified gold [black Reign]; be nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe [Chicago]; release a successful jazz album [The Dana Owens Album]; and appear in a cosmetics campaign [Cover Girl] – all while continuing to elevate her acting career and maintain her music management company, Flavor Unit. We caught up with the Queen recently to talk about her film, The Last Holiday and find out what else the Newark native has in store for the future.

 

Impact Worldwide: What was it like working alongside and playing the love interest of LL Cool J in The Last Holiday?

Latifah: There’s no love interest like LL Cool J! No, but it’s interesting because we used to work together with Flavor Unit management – we managed him for a period of time. Working with him was really fun because we both come from a music background and have made this transition into film. There’s a respect that we have for each other having made that crossover – being one of the few rappers to rap, have their own sitcom, go into films, become successful in films and then wind up working together. It was the same kind of feeling with Ice Cube and the same feeling with Will [smith], who has been like a brother all these years. But I thought as far as the role, it would be particularly good for him because you don’t usually see him play this kind of character, and I thought it would show more of his range and make him more empathetic to people. It’s a beautiful character that he plays in this film - still that strong guy, but not the cockiness, brazen, the brashness, the attitude or physicality that you see with many of his roles. It’s not based on his body or what he can do physically – it’s really an emotional, sensitive guy who just has a crush on a girl. It’s a classic love story with these two… and there’s an innocence about it that, to me, is beautiful.

 

Impact Worldwide: What attracted you to this film?

Latifah: That was a part of it: to play a character that was shy, meek and humble. Always bending over backwards for every one else. Afraid of a lot of things. Scared to take a chance… fear of being rejected. It’s a woman who lives in fear. And that’s not something that I embrace myself, personally. I’m fearful of certain things, but I don’t embrace fear. I challenge fear generally or try to rebel against it, or fight it and overcome it. And she’s sort of forced to overcome it…

 

Impact Worldwide: You seem to choose roles where you portray working class people. Is there something that attracts you to these types of roles?

Latifah: I relate to people. I think I’m a heart to heart kind of person. I definitely relate to the workingman – that’s what my family is. That’s what I come from. I’m “new money,” so to speak. So I relate to regular struggles, and I can still remember my mom holding down two to three jobs while taking care of two kids and taking care of all the bills while still trying to go to school. You know, so I tend to land on that side.

 

Impact Worldwide: You’re a unique actress in the way that you established a woman’s right to a male role – like with Taxi and The Last Holiday. Can you talk about that?

Latifah: A woman’s right to a man’s role… I like that! You know what? I reserve the right to be creative and able to reconceptualize a lot of these movies that need to be switched for someone like me. They need to be opened up and changed or they need a little flavor to them. Or just a new twist to them that wasn’t there before. And a lot of the studios are open to it. Talent drives a lot of the scripts that you see. If the studio wants to work with me, if the writers think they can figure out a way to make it happen and they’re into the idea, then it’s really not that difficult. But I never limit myself to roles that are supposedly typical female roles, let alone the African American female. Neither does my agent or my partner/manager. So when they’re out there looking for stuff, they’re looking for good pieces of work and good ideas, not just a role for a black female.

 

Impact Worldwide: A lot of kids look up to you. What advice can you give them?

Latifah: I would tell some of them that I went through my follower stage too. Because at some point you want to be accepted and feel like a part of something. A lot of these kids are facing that with gangs or groups or with clubs. And it could be a positive sort of acceptance or it could be negative. At the end of the day though, you have to be your own leader. You have to make your own choices and decisions. And all those decisions come with consequences, and if you’re ready to live with them, then that’s your choice. Nothing is free. Anything is possible. So now you have anything that you wanna do that you could ever dream of – is now possible. And kids are gonna face those challenges, and at some point any true leader in this world that you can identify, has had to stand alone at some point, and make a stand. Because everyone else wanted to do one thing, and someone had to have the guts to say, “No. That’s not right, and I’m not doing it.” And there are consequences that come with that too. But I find that’s always the better choice.

 

Impact210: You’ve accomplished so much. What other goals have you set for yourself that you’d like to achieve?

Latifah: There’s a lot I want to do. A lot of stuff for kids. There’s so many charitable things that my partner and I are working on besides our scholarship foundations and these adventure camps and these acting camps and a bunch of fundraisers that we’re trying to pull off and real estate ventures. We’d still love to create a studio within a high school where it’s an actual working and recording studio and kids get to learn. We just want to give back to the kids mostly. And to be a parent at some point is always on my mind – though I’ll have to have it sooner than later, before my mother kills me. More movies, more T.V., more production…

 

For more information about Impact Worldwide visit www.impactww.com or www.impact210themagazine.com

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