Isn’t It Romantic star Rebel Wilson recently put her foot in her mouth by declaring herself the first plus-sized actress to play the lead in a romantic comedy. But did she forget about the queen of Black rom-coms, Queen Latifah? Even after being called out on Twitter, Wilson only doubled down on her falsehood on social media, stating that it was “questionable” whether past stars like Latifah and Mo’Nique were “technically” plus-sized, and there was a “slight grey area” that allowed her wrongness to be right. Girl, bye. Here are six films that prove that Wilson’s not even close to being the first plus-size woman to find love as the lead in a romantic comedy.
1) Beauty Shop
The first of three Queen Latifah films on this list, 2005’s Beauty Shop stars the rapper-actress as widowed hairstylist Gina Norris. Gina opens her salon in Atlanta, becoming competition for her former boss, bougie hairstylist Jorge (Kevin Bacon). But between business worries, trying to raise her daughter Vanessa (Paige Hurd) and deal with her problematic sister-in-law (Keshia Knight Pulliam), Gina finds love once again with an electrician named Joe (Djimon Hounsou). Joe also becomes a second father to Vanessa due to their shared love of the piano.
2) Phat Girlz
Writer-director Nnegest Likké’s 2006 rom-com stars Mo’Nique as aspiring fashion designer Jazmin Biltmore, who is constantly waging war on her weight while her cousin Mia (Joyful Drake) parades around in a world designed for skinniness. When Jazmin and her best friend Stacey (Kendra C. Johnson) join Mia at a spa, they become the objects of desire for Nigerian expat Dr. Tunde Jonathan (Jimmy Jean-Louis) and his fellow Nigerian doctor friends, Akibo (Godfrey) and Goodwin (Dayo Ade). Tunde and Akibo fall in love with Jazmin and Stacey, but Jazmin’s insecurities lead her to break up with Tunde. She soon comes to her senses and travels to Nigeria to be with Tunde.
Robert Townsend directed this 1997 comedy starring Halle Berry and Natalie Dresselle Reid as Nisi and Mickey, two friends from Georgia who go to California to try out for a Heavy D music video. The two eventually fall into a scheme hatched by Isaac Blakemore (Jonathan Fried) to scam his wealthy, dying uncle Donald (Martin Landau) out of his fortune. But, due to their hearts of gold, they somehow win Donald over, and he treats them as family. During all of the film’s hijinks, Mickey develops a fling with Antonio (Luigi Amodeo). But Mickey breaks it off once she realizes that Antonio is just as crooked as Isaac. Mickey and Nisi still find love when their ex-boyfriends (Pierre Edwards and Anthony Johnson) come back into the picture, finally ditching their trifling ways to become entrepreneurs.
4) Just Wright
We featured Just Wright in our Black Romance Movies For Cuffing Season round-up, but we guess Wilson missed it. The 2010 rom-com stars Queen Latifah’s character, physical therapist Leslie Wright, who develops a relationship with injured NBA superstar Scott McKnight (Common). Their relationship becomes complicated when a former flame close to both Leslie and Scott re-enters the picture. Spoiler alert: Leslie finally gets the love and the dream job she deserves.
5) Last Holiday
In the last of the Queen Latifah films on this list, the actress plays mild-mannered Georgia Byrd, who learns that she’s got a terminal illness. The diagnosis urges her to relinquish all of her belongings and live out her final days at the ritzy Grandhotel Pupp in the Czech Republic. She learns how to live life to the fullest, including indulging in a relationship with co-worker Sean Williams (LL Cool J). The 2006 film is a rom-com of the highest order, including food porn, European travelogue imagery and, of course, Georgia’s evolution from shy and reserved to vibrant and outgoing.
6) Why Did I Get Married?
Tyler Perry’s 2007 dramedy Why Did I Get Married? is more dramatic than comedic, but perhaps the most darkly comedic moment is seeing Jill Scott’s character, Sheila, go from being the meek woman emotionally abused by her awful husband, Mike (Richard T. Jones), to a divorcée who marries the man who helped build her confidence, Sheriff Troy (Lamman Rucker).
This list might be short and doesn’t even include white plus-size actresses Ricki Lake (Hairspray) and Toni Collette in Muriel’s Wedding, but it proves Wilson is wronger than sugar in grits. Still, the larger problem in Hollywood is there aren’t enough films starring plus-size actresses. Many of America’s favorite actresses like Danielle Brooks and Gabourey Sidibe could be huge film stars with many rom-coms under their belt. But Hollywood has yet to utilize their talents. The films in this list prove there is a market for romance films starring people of all sizes because everyone needs to feel love.
Which film on this list is your favorite?