Queen Latifah is having a banner year, starring in Universal Pictures comedy, “Girls Trip” (just out on blu ray/dvd) and Fox’s “Star,” an emotionally powerful music business drama, executive produced by gay co-creator Lee Daniels (known for films like “Precious” and ”Monsters Ball”).
“Girls Trip” made $100 million at the box office, which thrilled the Oscar nominated actress. “It feels good to make people laugh, the world is sorely in need of that. I give 100 percent every time,” Latifah told the Los Angeles Blade at the Television Critics Press Tour. “You do your best. As long as I have given my best, that’s all I can do.”
During the Fox TCA session, Daniels acknowledged their collaborative relationship.
“This is what bonds Latifah and I together, that we both have a mutual understanding of what it’s like in the streets and a mutual understanding of what it’s like with fame and the marriage of both and a compassion for both. Because it’s lonely. Fame don’t mean that you are happy. Far from. And money doesn’t mean that you’re happy. Far from. And it’s really powerful to have her right here next to me because she knows the walk. She’s walked it with me.”
In “Star,” now in its second season, Latifah plays Carlotta, the mother of a sassy transgender daughter, Cotton (Amiyah Scott), whose sexuality she has trouble accepting.
“That was also one of the big draws of Carlotta,” she told Parade.com. “Carlotta is completely different than Queen Latifah, but they cross over in certain ways. The topic of being trans is very topical. More importantly, the thing that Lee and I talked about when we developed the concept of this show, and what we were interested in about this, was the fact that everybody doesn’t know the right thing to say. It’s a new experience for a lot of people and if we communicate about it, people could grow to understand each other.”
Latifah continued: “You’ll find that theme along a lot of lines in this show, but this particular thing is very important to us, especially since our whole relationship in beginning this movement came after we were at the afterparty for ‘Precious.’ We hung and we got on the topic of (trans documentary) ‘Paris is Burning’ and how much we both loved that movie, and how some of the people were high school classmates of mine or friends that I knew from hanging out in the clubs in my teenage years. In Lee’s younger years, he crossed a lot of the same places. We wanted to build that understanding.
“At the same time, you can’t always fault people for what they don’t understand. You have to try to build a bridge. We wanted to show the conversation. We hear about those conversations, especially when [Bruce] Jenner became Caitlyn Jenner. It became a huge topic of conversation, but some of it was sort of trivialized or stereotyped or overblown.”
The character’s struggle for her mother’s acceptance is something Scott was used to.
“Being transgender was something different for my parents to accept,” acknowledged Scott, when the show first premiered. “I was an only child. Well, I’m my mother China’s only child. My father has daughters. But I think that by me being the third, I was then his only son. We have certain expectations in my life, and my life was supposed to go a certain way, and that’s the course that I was on. So to almost just realize all of a sudden that that wasn’t who I am and to alert my parents of that, it was something difficult to deal with. We did struggle.
I’m blessed enough to have parents who — who at least loved me enough to think about what I wanted and to keep that in mind. No, my father wasn’t pleased at first, but the silver lining is now he calls me Princess. So I think that shows like this and growth and seeing different things can open up your mind. And I think that sometimes, though you may feel a certain way, like, about a certain subject at first, things can change.”
As for her sexual orientation, Latifah is perhaps more guarded than some fans prefer, especially given the debate around Kevin Spacey’s 30 year caginess on the subject. But she’s not shy and has often been seen sharing affection with her partner, Eboni Nichols.
Latifah, a hip hop pioneer, was recently recognized by VH1’s Save the Music Foundation for her contribution to music and her work providing low income students the opportunity to pursue an education.
“To strip faculties of music and artwork is like stripping your personal soul,” Latifah said during her acceptance speech. “Some individuals discover out what they need to be in life by way of music and artwork…Typically music and artwork can park one thing in you that awakens your thoughts and allows you to know you can attain additional and assume additional.”
Just so y’all know, the Queen already has a star on Hollywood Boulevard.