Interview: Queen Latifah Speaks On Her TV Return, Running For Office And Lessons From Hip-Hop

Features

By: / September 12, 2013

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Since her debut hip-hop LP All Hail The Queen dropped in ’89, Queen Latifah has traversed Hollywood, jazz and TV like no other rapper. As her daytime talk show returns, the everywoman opens up her fearless feminism mind

-Hip-hop definitely taught me a lot. Having to create your own identity and become known and respected in a male-dominated field—it requires some guts. There are times you have to be strong, and times when you have to stand alone for what you believe in. -I never fit the mold of a Hollywood actress, so I’ve always looked to create my own lane. It was the same in rap, so that just translated into cracking Hollywood. I was not born white, I was not born a size two. I’m not skinny, period. I’m not willing to sleep with the director or step on somebody else’s neck to get the job. There was a time when that was the prerequisite. -I don’t think I necessarily wanted to be famous. I wanted to be a rapper, I wanted to sing. I wanted to get in clubs for free, that’s fasho! I was 17 and I wanted to make money and change the circumstances of my family’s situation, buy my mom a house. -I always thought that a role model was supposed to be this perfect person exhibiting excellent behavior at all times for people to emulate. And I’m like, wait a minute—I’m flawed. Yes, I did inhale! And yeah, I did throw back that Patrón! I haven’t always made the right decisions in my love life and I have been late to a couple of appointments! I didn’t recognize my strengths initially. -To wanna be me is to go through not just the good but the bad. You wanna share my story identically? Man, you gonna take some lumps. -The new Queen Latifah Show is not the same Queen Latifah Show. I’m not the same—I’ve had more life experience and a chance to explore acting and producing. I was definitely not an A-List actor, so I had a chance to do big $100 million movies. -We’re getting pushed back to the dark ages. We’ve made progress in this country, however, we still have a lot of prejudice: removing the Voting Rights Act, people wanting to appeal Affirmative Action. We can hardly even have a conversation about race. -Running for office was definitely something I’ve thought about. When I was younger, I wanted to major in political science. And I’ve been engaged in current events since I was a kid. If I can make a difference and feel passionately and capable, then I would. Why not? -If you can draw something from my life that helps, more power to you. —As told to Julianne Escobedo Shepherd The Queen Latifah Show sets it off on small screens on Monday (Sept. 16).