Perfectly Fit for A. McQueen

updated 04/26/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/26/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

WHERE DOES IT COME FROM—THE swagger and squeal, the gleeful supremacy of this mad monarch? "I draw the royalty from within myself," proclaims Armelia McQueen, the aptly named eminence who inhabits the benignly bossy Red Queen in Adventures in Wonderland, the Disney Channel's modern-day (and educational) take on the Lewis Carroll stories. A dizzying amalgamation of live action, animation, Claymation and puppetry, complete with a rollerblading White Rabbit and a rapping Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the show gives the operatically trained McQueen a chance to clown as well as sing: "Going to work is like having a birthday party every week!"

Ensconced in an overstuffed throne in her own Hollywood palace, a snug apartment filled with Navajo pillows and Nepalese shaman drums, McQueen savors the raucous arc of her career. She has shimmied in Broadway's Ain't Misbehavin', spiced up both television (on such shows as L.A. Law) and film (remember Whoopi Goldberg's rattled fortune-telling accomplice in Ghost?), even played Radio City Music Hall. Jokes McQueen: "I was probably the first black woman to dance with Rockettes!"

Initially interested in designing clothing, the North Carolina-born, Brooklyn-bred McQueen (the second of three children of a hairdresser mother and a building superintendent father) switched gears and enrolled at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music to polish the voice she had found in church. Her first big break: a part in a touring company of Tommy in 1974.

Unattached, McQueen claims a "nonexistent" social life due to her hectic, two-show-per-week taping schedule. Someday she hopes to adopt a child. And she plans to use her clothes-designing skills to launch a lingerie line. Fittingly, it will not consist of little numbers. "I'll call it McQ," says Her Majesty. "For queen-sized women!"

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