Dana Elaine Owens, known professionally as Queen Latifah, is a multi-talented artist who has made a lasting mark in both the world of music and on-screen entertainment. With a career spanning decades, she has proven herself as a versatile performer, earning accolades and a loyal fan base. She is a household name, making it seemingly impossible to have never seen something she has starred. Take a closer look at Queen Latifah’s work in her impressive film and television career.
Set It Off (1996)
Rotten Tomatoes: 63%
In Set It Off (1996), Queen Latifah portrayed the character Cleo, a tough and fearless woman who, along with three friends, turns to a life of crime in an attempt to escape dire financial circumstances. Cleo is the group’s driver and a central figure in their criminal activities. Her powerful performance in this film helped establish her as a formidable actress and gave the film the impact it is known for by its many fans.
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
In Chicago (2002), Queen Latifah played the role of Matron Mama Morton, a charismatic and morally ambiguous prison matron at the Cook County Jail. Mama Morton uses her connections to manipulate the legal system and provides favors to inmates in exchange for money. Queen Latifah’s performance in this musical film was a standout, as she brought a captivating mix of authority and charm to the character, earning her critical acclaim and contributing to the film’s success.
Bringing Down the House (2003)
Rotten Tomatoes: 34%
In Bringing Down the House (2003), Queen Latifah portrayed Charlene Morton, a brash and unfiltered ex-convict who contacts a lonely lawyer, played by Steve Martin, through an online dating site. Charlene’s arrival disrupts his life and leads to comedic and chaotic situations as she tries to clear her name and prove her innocence. Queen Latifah’s performance added humor and charm to the film, showcasing her comedic talents and chemistry with Steve Martin in this light-hearted comedy. Despite mixed reviews, the film became a commercial success.
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
In Hairspray (2007), Queen Latifah portrayed Motormouth Maybelle, a dynamic and influential Black American DJ and record store owner in 1960s Baltimore. Motormouth Maybelle becomes a pivotal figure in the fight for racial integration in the local dance television show. Queen Latifah’s powerful performance not only showcased her singing and acting abilities but also added depth and heart to the film’s message of tolerance and inclusion. Her character played a vital role in advancing the film’s storyline and promoting its themes of unity and equality.
The Secret Life of Bees (2008)
Rotten Tomatoes: 58%
In The Secret Life of Bees (2008), Queen Latifah played the character August Boatwright, a kind-hearted and nurturing beekeeper who provides refuge to a young girl named Lily Owens. August, along with her sisters, becomes a surrogate mother figure to Lily and helps her navigate a challenging period in her life. Queen Latifah’s portrayal of August Boatwright was deeply moving and resonated with audiences, as she brought warmth and wisdom to the character, making her an essential source of guidance and support in the film.
Living Single (1993-1998)
In this popular sitcom, Queen Latifah starred as Khadijah James, a confident and independent magazine editor who shares a brownstone apartment in Brooklyn with her close-knit group of friends. Khadijah’s character epitomized strength, ambition and a deep sense of sisterhood. Queen Latifah’s performance as Khadijah helped make the show a cultural landmark, as it celebrated the lives, friendships and careers of a group of young, Black professionals in a relatable and entertaining way. Her role in Living Single solidified her status as a talented actress and a positive representation of empowered women on television.
The Queen Latifah Show (1999-2001)
In The Queen Latifah Show (1999-2001), Queen Latifah hosted her own daytime talk show. As the host, she brought her charismatic and engaging personality to the forefront. The show featured celebrity interviews, musical performances, and discussions on various topics, making it an entertaining and informative program. Queen Latifah’s role as the host allowed her to showcase her versatility and connect with a wide range of guests and viewers, contributing to the show’s success in the beginning during its brief run.
In the musical drama series Star (2016-2019), Queen Latifah played the character Carlotta Brown. Carlotta is a strong-willed and resilient woman who serves as the surrogate mother and manager to a young girl group striving for fame and success in the music industry. Queen Latifah’s portrayal of Carlotta added depth and authenticity to the show’s narrative. Her character provided guidance, stability and a touch of maternal love to the aspiring singers, making her a crucial and beloved figure in the series. Queen Latifah’s performance in Star showcased her acting talent and contributed to the show’s emotional depth.
The Equalizer (2021-Present)
IMDb: 4.9/10 (as of 2021)
In The Equalizer (2021-present), Queen Latifah takes on the lead role of Robyn McCall, a former CIA operative who uses her unique skills to help those in need and seek justice for those who cannot do so themselves. Robyn McCall is a compelling character who balances her life as a single mother with her covert operations to make the world a safer place. Queen Latifah’s portrayal adds depth and action to the character, making The Equalizer a thrilling and engaging crime drama series that showcases her versatility as an actress and her ability to command the screen.
Queen Latifah has managed to remain an acclaimed star throughout the many eras of entertainment that have come and gone since she began her career. Her contributions to the entertainment world continue to be celebrated, and her impact on the industry is undeniable; her presence in both film and television has helped diversify the entertainment industry and provide representation for Black women. Whether she’s gracing the silver screen or the small screen, Queen Latifah remains a queen in her own right.