Born Dana Elaine Owens in Newark, N.J. on March 18, 1970, Queen Latifah is an award-winning actress, rapper, singer, author and entrepreneur. She landed an Oscar nomination in 2003 for Best Supporting Actress, as well as Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award nominations for her performance as Mama Morton in “Chicago.”

In 2008, Latifah received rave reviews and won a Golden Globe, SAG and an NAACP Image Award for her powerful portrayal of a mother who overcomes an addiction to crack and becomes a positive role model and AIDS activist in the black community in HBO’s “Life Support.” In addition to her film and television accolades, she earned a Grammy Award for Best Solo Rap Performance in 1994, and was nominated for Best Female Rap Solo Performance for “Go Head” in 2004.

Latifah made her screen debut in Spike Lee’s 1991 film “Jungle Fever,” and her other film credits include “The Bone Collector,” “The Last Holiday,” “The Secret Life of Bees” and “Just Wright.” Here, she talks about her latest movie, “Joyful Noise,” a musical comedy co-starring Dolly Parton.

KW: What interested you in Joyful Noise?
QL: I felt that its timely, uplifting story was perfect for me given what’s going on in the world right now. And I already loved the studio, Alcon Entertainment. They’ve made a lot of nice movies in the past , and they really do a great job of marketing their films. And I liked the idea of working with Dolly Parton and Keke .

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: What was it like working with Todd Graff? It seems like he knows a lot about both music and comedy. ?
QL: He really does. It was great working with him because he’s very thorough. I believe he had an excellent grasp of every aspect of the film from the music to the staging. He knew exactly how he wanted it presented, which made the process a lot easier. And he likes to rehearse, which I do, too. So often, you don’t get that opportunity. You only go over everything once and, the next thing you know, you’re on set. Todd had a vision of what he wanted to do and, because he also wrote the screenplay, it was easy for him to make observations, take notes and tweak the script whenever necessary. It was perfect!

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier asks: What message do you think people will take away from Joyful Noise?
QL: I would say that overall, the movie offers an inspirational message of hope, love, camaraderie, joy and overcoming challenges in difficult times. All that good stuff!

KW: Patricia also asks: What advice do you have for females interested in founding a record company or breaking the glass ceiling in the music business?
QL: Try to network with others, and don’t take no for an answer. It will be a challenge. You just have to connect with people who believe in your vision and who will work with you and advance your cause. And don’t give up!

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
QL: Scrambled eggs.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
QL: I see this 5’10” black lady. She’s sexy! Who is that girl? Me? Oh, snap!

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
QL: Being smacked on my ass in this bright room when I was maybe 4 or 5 minutes old. I remember wondering, “What is going on here?” It was not cool.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Queen, and best of luck with Joyful Noise.
QL: Thank you, Kam.

To see the trailer for Joyful Noise, visit:


Kam Williams

Special to the AFRO