Queen Latifah has a new afternoon talk show that is already receiving good reviews. Her real name is Dana Elaine Owens, and she was born in East Orange, New Jersey on March 18th, 1970. She chose the name Latifah (which means delicate and very kind) when she was only eight years old Her mother was a high school art teacher and her father was a police officer; they separated when she was eight, and divorced two years later. As a teenager she was estranged from her father (1: No Paternal Safety Net), but now he helps provide security for Latifah and has worked as her driver.
Although she was raised in the Baptist church, she attended Catholic school in Newark, New Jersey (3: Belief In The Unbelievable). As a teenager she indulged in some risky and unpalatable behavior--she experimented with drug dealing twice "to see if I could," and at 16, had sex with a 40 year old man (11: Risk Addiction). In high school, she performed the song "Home" from "The Wiz," and soon afterwards began beat-boxing for the hip hop group Ladies Fresh (2: An Early Sense Of Direction). Her first album (All Hail The Queen) was released when she was 19 years old.
As one of the few females in the hip hop world, her albums were enthusiastically supported by her fans. Soon she was appearing on TV sitcoms, and by 1991, she had broken into the movies (Juice, Jungle Fever). She helped her older brother purchase a motorcycle for his 24th birthday, but in 1992 he was killed while riding it. For the next five years, she told an interviewer, she was "...here but not here" (12: Hard Times). She and her mother established the Lancelot H. Owens Foundation in her brother's name to help provide funding for academically gifted but financially underprivileged children.
The 5 foot 10 inch Latifah had breast reduction surgery in 2003, and worked with Jenny Craig's Ideal Size campaign to lose close to ten percent of her body weight (6: Life is Not A Beauty Contest). Her endorsement deal with Cover Girl makeup (the Queen Collection) has been one of the fastest growing lines for ethnic cosmetics.
Latifah once told an interviewer that when young she'd learned that she "had to work harder than the white kids and harder than the boys (10: The Critic Within). Her hard work has insured that Latifah has become a triple-threat talent, excelling in film, music and television. She has earned a Golden Globe Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Image Awards, a Grammy Award, six additional Grammy nominations, an Emmy Award and an Academy Award nomination (13: More Than Meets The Eye).
Queen Latifah has recorded seven albums, made close to 20 television appearances, and acted in 36 movies so far, and she's only 43 years old!
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