Queen Latifah, whose real name is Dana Owens, was born in Newark, New Jersey and raised mostly in East Orange, New Jersey.
Queen Latifah was raised Baptist, went to a Catholic school growing up, and now considers herself a non-denominational Christian. She said that while she was growing up, church and Bible school were “requirements” and that her early connection to God caused her to never feel like she was alone.
She said she believes in “divine design,” that everything happens for a reason. Talking about her brother’s death in a motorcycle accident when he was only 24, she said,
I always leave open that things happen for a reason, and I don’t understand that reason always, but it’s something I have to accept. . . . I really believe that God had his hands on me the whole time, and my family as well.
Her relationship with God is very personal and seems to be with her constantly, like a close companion. She said,
Sometimes I pray when I really feel like I need God to help me with something, and sometimes we just have conversations. We just kick it. God is my homeboy. Jesus is my homeboy.
She supports the gay rights movement, and even though there’s all sorts of speculation about Latifah’s own sexuality,she says that the matter is not up for public discussion. She has performed at gay pride events, and although she doesn’t think unions among gay couples should be called “marriage,” she supports equal rights:
I don’t think that it should be called marriage. But the idea of it is the same, and you should have the same quality of rights that a married person has. People think of marriage as something that is between a man and a woman, because it was created by God. Well, let God handle the judgment, too. You stay out of it.
Queen Latifah, from her role as a woman in hip hop in its early days, has been associated with feminism from the beginning. She is a role model to bigger women who don’t fit the skinny Hollywood stereotype, and her lyrics protest anything less than equality for women. In her song “U.N.I.T.Y.” she raps,
Everytime I hear a brother call a girl a bitch or a hoe/ Trying to make a sister feel low/ You know all of that gots to go
Aspiring business-women, actresses, singers, and rappers of any color, body-type or sexuality, can certainly find a role model in the Queen.