In an interview with Tracee Ellis Ross for InStyle, Queen Latifah opened up about her work, life and lessons she’s learned.
In addition to rapping, Queen Latifah has proven herself as a talented singer, producer and actor. Her range has taken her from playing Harlem Renaissance star Bessie Smith in Bessie, to an overzealous security guard in The Cookout.
She spoke to Tracee about the hardest career decision she’s had to make. And believe it or not, Queen says choosing to play “Cleo” in Set it Off—for which Jada Pinkett Smith originally auditioned—was difficult to take on.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news.
“When I got the role of amateur bank robber ‘Cleo Sims’ in Set It Off, I sat down with my younger siblings and told them, ‘Listen, I’m playing a gay character,’” Latifah said about the F. Gary Gray directed film.
“Your classmates might tease you or say negative things about it. But I’m doing it because I believe I can bring positive attention to the gay African-American community, and I believe that I can do a great job as an actor,'” she continued. “They understood, and when those things inevitably happened in school, they were OK with it.”
When asked about who she considers pop-culture royalty, Queen Latifah spoke of her admiration for Solange Knowles:
“I respect people who started from the bottom and then grinded up—the ones who work as hard as I did when I started rapping. I’ve been a fan of Solange Knowles from the beginning. The biggest artist in the world is her older sister, yet she never relied on that. It doesn’t matter to me if the masses know who you are. I care about how you behaved when you were broke and whether you’ve stayed loyal to the people who rolled along with you back then.”