QUEEN LATIFAH Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Dana Elaine Owens                                                                       
Born: 18 March 1970 Newark, New Jersey                                                       
Dana Elaine Owens (born March 18, 1970), better known by the stage name Queen                 
Latifah, is an American rapper, singer, and actress. Latifah's work in music,                 
film and television has earned her a Golden Globe award, Grammy Award, five                   
additional Grammy nominations, two Screen Actors Guild Award, an Emmy Award                   
nomination and an Academy Award nomination.                                                   
Latifah was born in Newark, New Jersey, the daughter of Rita, a schoolteacher                 
who worked at Irvington High School, and Lancelot Owens, a policeman.                         
Her parents divorced when Latifah was ten. Latifah performed the number "Home"               
from the musical The Wiz in a high school play. Her stage name, Latifah,                     
meaning "kind" in Arabic, was given to her when she was eight by her cousin.                 
Latifah was raised in the Baptist religion, and, while in high school, was a                 
power forward on her basketball team.                                                         
Latifah started her career beatboxing for the rap group Ladies Fresh. Latifah                 
was one of the members of the original version of the Flavor Unit, which, at                 
that time, was a crew of emcees grouped around producer DJ Mark the 45 King. In               
1988, DJ Mark the 45 King heard a demo version of Latifah's single "Princess of               
the Posse" and gave the demo to Fab Five Freddy, who was the host of Yo! MTV                 
Raps. Freddy helped Latifah sign with Tommy Boy Records, which released Latifah's             
first album All Hail the Queen in 1989, when she was nineteen. That year, she                 
appeared as Referee on the UK label Music of Life album "1989 The Hustlers                   
Convention (live)". Her debut managed to be both a critical and a commercial                 
success and was followed by the albums Nature of a Sista and Black Reign, which               
contained the Grammy Award winning hit single, U.N.I.T.Y. In 1998, she released               
her fourth hip-hop album Order in the Court. In 2004, she released the soul/jazz             
standards The Dana Owens Album.                                                               
On July 11, 2007, Latifah made her singing debut at the famed Hollywood Bowl in               
Los Angeles as the headliner act in a live jazz concert. Before an enthusiastic               
crowd of more than 12,400, she was backed by a 10-piece live orchestra and three             
backup vocalists, aka The Queen Latifah Orchestra. In the concert, Latifah                   
performed new arrangements of standards including California Dreaming, first                 
made popular by '60s icons The Mama's and The Papa's.                                         
In 2007, Latifah released an album entitled Trav'lin' Light. Jill Scott, Erykah               
Badu, Joe Sample, George Duke, Christian McBride, Stevie Wonder made guest                   
appearances on the project. It has been nominated for a Grammy in the "Best                   
Traditional Pop Vocal Album" category.                                                       
From 1993 to 1998, Latifah had a starring role on Living Single, a FOX sitcom;               
she also wrote and performed its theme music. She began her film career in a                 
supporting role in the 1991 films House Party 2, Juice, and Jungle Fever.                     
Latifah first attracted notice for her role portraying a lesbian in the 1996 box-office       
hit, Set It Off and subsequently had a supporting role in the Holly Hunter film               
Living Out Loud (1998). She played the role of Thelma in the 1999 movie                       
adaptation of Jeffrey Deavers' The Bone Collector, alongside Denzel Washington               
and Angelina Jolie. Although she had already received some critical acclaim, she             
gained mainstream success after being cast as Matron "Mama" Morton in the Oscar-winning       
musical Chicago, the recipient of the Best Picture Oscar. Latifah received an                 
Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role, but             
lost to co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones. In 2003, she starred with Steve Martin                 
in the film Bringing Down the House, which was a major success at the box office.             
Since then, she has had both leading and supporting roles in a multitude of                   
films that received varied critical and box office receptions, including Scary               
Movie 3, Barbershop 2: Back in Business, Taxi, Kung Faux, and Beauty Shop.                   
In early 2006, Latifah appeared in a romantic comedy/drama entitled Last Holiday.             
Film critic Richard Roeper stated that "this is the Queen Latifah performance I've           
been waiting for ever since she broke into movies". Also in 2006, Latifah                     
voiced Ellie, a friendly mammoth, in the animated film, Ice Age 2: The Meltdown               
(her first voice appearance in an animated film), and also appeared in the drama             
Stranger Than Fiction.                                                                       
She has starred in two movie remakes (Taxi and Last Holiday), four sequels (House             
Party 2, Scary Movie 3, Barbershop 2: Back in Business and Ice Age 2: The                     
Meltdown), 1 Spinoff (Beauty Shop), 1 movie based on a book (The Bone Collector),             
and two screen adaptations of musicals (Chicago and Hairspray). In regards to                 
the difference between rap and musicals, Queen admits that she grew up watching               
musicals and singing in that style. "What the hell was I going to do," she                   
revealed to CraveOnline, "it wasn't like I was going to perform much of that...               
but now it's all paying off because here come the musicals again and I get a                 
chance to have some fun with a lot of these songs".                                           
The summer of 2007 has brought Latifah triple success in the big-screen version               
of the Broadway smash hit Hairspray, in which she acts, sings, and dances. The               
film has rated highly with critics and stars, among others, John Travolta and                 
Christopher Walken. Also in 2007, she portrayed an HIV-positive woman in the                 
film, Life Support, a role for which she garnered her first Golden Globe Award               
and an Emmy nomination. Latifah is starting off 2008 with the release of the                 
crime comedy Mad Money opposite Academy Award-winner Diane Keaton as well as                 
Katie Holmes and Ted Danson.                                                                 
Latifah produced the upcoming film The Perfect Holiday penned by Marc Calixte                 
and Lance Rivera in Westfield, NJ. Along with producing the film Latifah stars               
alongside Terrence Howard, Morris Chestnut, Gabrielle Union, Charles Q. Murphy,               
Jill Marie Jones, and Faizon Love in the movie.                                               
Latifah is a celebrity spokesperson for Cover Girl cosmetics, Curvation ladies               
underwear, Pizza Hut and Jenny Craig. She has developed her own line of                       
cosmetics for women of color called the Covergirl Queen Collection and has                   
starred in several commercials for the line, as well as a commercial with fellow             
spokeswoman and singer Faith Hill. She had her own talk show, The Queen Latifah               
Show, from 1999 to 2001.                                                                     
Latifah is one of two hip-hop artists to receive an Academy Award nomination in               
an acting category (Best Supporting Actress, Chicago, 2002). The other is Will               
Smith (Best Actor, Ali, 2001, and Best Actor, The Pursuit of Happyness, 2007).