Dana Elaine Owens, also known as Queen Latifah, is an American singer-songwriter, rapper, actress, and producer. The single "U.N.I.T.Y." from her third album, Black Reign (1993), was crucial in promoting awareness of women's rights and perspectives in communities around the world[citation needed]. The song won a Grammy Award and reached number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100. Latifah received critical acclaim for her performance as Matron "Mama" Morton in the musical film Chicago (2002), for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.


On March 18, 1970, Queen Latifah was born in Newark, New Jersey, to Rita and Lancelot Owens, Sr. who was a police officer. Her mother, Rita, worked as a teacher at the High School of Irvington. Her parents separated from each other when Queen was only ten years old. The breakup was hard to handle for Queen because she was still a young girl who did not understand the world. Latifah couldn't handle the fact that her parents were leaving each other. She wanted them to be together forever. When the news was broke to her, she was devastated and felt that things were not going to work out. Her parents tried to assure her that they loved her, and even though they were no longer going to be together, they both still cared about her and would try to give her the best life possible.

She attended the same school in which her mother was a teacher. She was born Dana Elaine Owens, but she later took on the stage name of Queen Latifah when she became a hip-hop rapper. The meaning of "Latifah" in Arabic is delicate and kind. She grew up as a believer in the Baptist faith because of the way her parents raised her. They would often take her to black churches. Queen enjoyed her time at the church because she loved listening to the choir sing. Their beautiful songs and messages amused her.

Music Career

She started her music career as a beatboxer for a hip-hop group called Ladies Fresh. Latifah would become an incredible rapper. After her rap song named "Princess of the Posse" was released, she got the attention of Dante Ross, a well-respected music producer. He signed her to his record label and helped her release "Wrath of My Madness" in 1988. Her first album, named "All Hail the Queen," was released in 1989 when Latifah was only 19 years old. She had a very successful hip-hop career and released her fourth studio album "Order in the Court" in 1998.

After her fourth rap album, Queen decided to make a considerable change in her music career. She was done dropping rhymes over funky hip-hop beats. She wanted to return to the roots that she was used to when she would go to church with her parents. Although she was never known for her singing ability, she wanted to challenge herself. She knew that she could rap rhymes whenever she wanted, but the new task of signing was foreign to her. She didn't know if the media and her fans would accept her signing, but she didn't care. If she didn't take the risk of becoming a legit singer, she wouldn't be able to live with herself. All she would have is regret if she didn't dive into the world of signing.

Queen hurled herself towards traditional singing and never wanted to look back at rap. Her first Jazz album was "The Dana Owens Album," which came out in 2004. On July 11, 2007, she gave a splendid jazz concert at the famous Hollywood Bowl in the elegant city of Los Angeles.

Latifah ended up releasing many singing albums, which include "Trav'illin' Light," "All Hail the Queen II," Persona," and "Duets II." In 2008, Latifah made her return to Hip-Hop music with some singles, but she stills herself to be more of a singer than a rapper today.


Acting Career

Latifah acted in the famous FOX sitcom "Living Single" for five years. The show was top-rated among urban audiences because it featured an all-black cast. When white sitcoms like "Friends" were top-rated among white audiences, the urban audience wanted a show that represented their lifestyle. "Living Single" filled the void, and Queen was happy to be a significant part of the show.

In the movie industry, she initially started by playing supporting roles in films like "Juice," "Jungle Fever," and "House Party 2". The movie, Chicago, gave Latifah mainstream success portraying "Mama." She got an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She is amongst a list of small hip-hop performers that have received nominations for Academy Awards. Some of her other well-known movies are "Barbershop 2: Back in Business", "Taxi," "Scary Movie 3", "Kung Faux," "Hairspray," and "Beauty Shop."

She was also the host of her talk show program called, The Queen Latifah Show. The talk show did not last long, but Queen was happy that she gave it a try.

Personal Life

Queen was in a relationship with Kendu Isaacs for almost a decade. Their relationship lasted from 1992 to 2001. After that relationship, she dated Jeanette Jenkins, a long 9-year relationship that ended in 2011. She has been together with Ebony Nicholas since 2011. In an interview in March 2016, Latifah announced that she is ready to have children.

Queen is a multi-talented personality; she has had many feathers of talent embedded in her hat. She had a long and successful career as a famous American singer, television producer, songwriter, actress, and music producer.

A surprising thing about her is that she could have even pursued a career in sports if she did not fall in love with the music first. She has the body type for sports as she is almost 6 feet tall. In high school, she played the power forward position for her high school basketball team. She sometimes wonders how it would have been if her life had gone differently and she ended up playing sports. During the early 90s, she competed in MTV's Rock and Jock basketball game which featured athletes and celebrities. She did pretty well for herself and was among the best celebrity players.

Last Modified: Aug 16, 2021

Related Biographies