Breaking

PEOPLE Magazine Awards News, Photos & More

Queen Latifah: Snapshot

Name
Queen Latifah
Date of Birth
March 18, 1970
Birth Place
Newark, N.J.
Queen Latifah's rise to fame began with the release of her first single at 17, when the crown-wearing rapper emerged as hip-hop's renaissance feminist. Today, the larger-than-life actor, rapper, singer, plus-size spokesperson and philanthropist transcends age, ethnicity and size as Hollywood's most beautiful Everywoman.

Did we mention her acting! The Grammy-winning entertainer turned in critically acclaimed performances as an actress – from headlining her own sitcom, Living Single, to playing a woman struggling with HIV in HBO's Life Support, to her Oscar-nominated turn in the star-studded movie-musical Chicago. The CoverGirl cosmetics and Jenny Craig spokeswoman has since returned to movie-musicals in the star-studded hit Hairspray.

Queen Latifah: Five Fun Facts

  1. Queen Latifah almost played the role that earned Halle Berry a Best Actress Oscar. Latifah told the AP the original cast for Monster's Ball was her, Sean Penn and Robert De Niro but a scheduling problem prevented it from happening.
  2. Queen Latifah has a "no-die" clause in all of her film contracts. "I died really well in one movie, Set It Off. Then I had to die in Sphere – underwater at that! Then it was just like, 'I don't want to die anymore,'" she told Glamour. "Of course, if I die and get an Oscar and a mean paycheck, then it's worth it!"
  3. Queen Latifah's two-inch scar on her forehead doesn't bother her. "I'd never cover it up," she told In Style, "It gives my face character."
  4. During high school, a hair-processing treatment at a local salon made Queen Latifah bald. "I should have sued," she told PEOPLE in 1999.
  5. In Miami, Queen Latifah will be launching a Fatburger, a 55-year-old franchise that bills itself as "the last great hamburger stand." "I grew up hanging out at Fatburger," Latifah told Forbes. "So it's pretty cool to own one now."

Queen Latifah: Biography

1970

Queen Latifah

March 18

From Dana to Latifah

Rita, a high school art teacher who runs a jazz club in Newark, N.J., and Lancelot Owens, a police officer, welcome daughter Dana. As a kid, Dana and her older brother Lance attend Catholic school, where she plays Dorothy in a school production of the musical The Wiz. "There was always music in the house," Latifah tells the Iowa City Press-Citizen in 2007. "Singing was just a part of our normal upbringing." Around that time, an 8-year-old Dana assumes the name "Latifah" (meaning "gentle" and "kind" in Arabic) at the suggestion of a Muslim cousin. "I felt like, 'that's me,'" Latifah later tells CBS.

1980s

Queen Latifah

Finding Her Niche

At 5'10", Latifah's weight hovers in the above-average range, but she learns to accept her stature, playing power forward on the high school basketball team (left). "I wasn't the best-looking student. But I thought I was cute," she tells PEOPLE. "I was well-liked and definitely had style." With two friends, Latifah forms a rhyming group called Ladies Fresh. "I was attracted to the sound and the content and the freedom of rap," Latifah tells the Los Angeles Times.

1988

Queen Latifah

Hail the Queen!

When Latifah is just 17, her friend Mark James gets her solo demo tape onto the radio waves. She adds "Queen" to her moniker and signs with Tommy Boy Records. She releases her feminist-flavored debut album All Hail the Queen (right), which sells more than 400,000 copies. In 1991, she releases her follow-up, Nature of A Sista, and takes over the management company Flavor Unit, which will eventually handle clients OutKast, Monica and Naughty by Nature.

Read More on Queen Latifah's Life

Photo Credits

Top Left: Michael Thompson

BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Courtesy Queen Latifah; Globe; amazon.com

Edited by Julia Wang

Queen Latifah

Celebrity Central / Top 25 Celebs

From Our Partners