Well-known for her parts in film comedies, Queen Latifah started out with a career in music when she was just 19. Born in Newark, N.J., on March 18, 1970, Latifah (real name: Dana Elaine Owens) got her stage name — which means “delicate” and “very kind” in Arabic — from a cousin.
Her first foray into the music business occurred when she beatboxed for the rap group Ladies Fresh in the late ’80s. By 1989, Latifah had released her first album, All Hail the Queen. Latifah completed three more hip-hop albums before shifting her focus to soul music and jazz.
Early on in her acting career, Latifah enjoyed a starring role on the TV show Living Single and went on to have guest and supporting roles in shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. She even had her own talk show, The Queen Latifah Show, during the ’90s. But Latifah didn’t acquire mainstream popularity until her role as “Mama” in the film adaptation of Broadway’s Chicago. Other notable roles include Bringing Down the House, Beauty Shop, Hairspray and Last Holiday.
A very private person, Latifah has remained mum about reports that she is a lesbian.