Actress Queen Latifah Recalls Her Childhood and The Moment She Learned She Was A Girl

Queen Latifah has always been the poster child for strong women. Feminism was a staple in her early music and followed her as she played a series of strong independent female characters throughout her career. In recent years, Latifah has softened up a bit, giving us small glimpses behind her tough exterior and incredibly private life. In her revelations, she opened up about growing up and how she did not realize she was a girl early on. 

Queen Latifah was very different from some of her female hip-hop contemporaries. While Salt-N-Pepa were being praised for their sexual liberation and laying the groundwork for the Lil Kims and Nicki Minajs to follow, Latifah kept it classy and fought to deliver a message about unity and equality. She scored hits like “Ladies First” before leading a cast of diverse women on projects like “Living Single,” “Set It Off,” and eventually the smash hit “Girls Trip.” Through it all, Latifah has always stayed true to her tomboy aesthetic with sprinklings of glamour here and there on red carpets. 

Latifah was recently honored at The Grio Awards over the weekend and opened up about how she developed her sense of identity growing up in Newark, NJ. Latifah says her parents instilled great pride in her as a woman of color. “My parents raised me with the idea that Black is beautiful. Black is beautiful; Black is beautiful. Black is OK.” She says she did not realize till later in life that those values were preparing her for the world. 

Queen says that realizing she was a girl was a different battle for her. As a child, she used to run around with her shirt off like the boys. She had to be taught that she could not run shirtless or play sports with the guys, something she did not initially understand. Those lessons went against her sense of freedom, and Latifah says she has spent her whole life “trying to maintain” her freedom to be herself. Years of work have taught her she can be in the dirt with the boys but also wear beautiful gowns and be glamorous. She goes on to say that she now knows the beauty in being herself and living honestly. 

Latifah talked about something similar during an interview with The View back in June. While there promoting The Equalizer, she discussed how difficult it was for her to discover she was a girl. Latifah thanked the women in her life for “preparing her” and helping ease her into that realization. “being told, ‘you’re a girl, these things are happening.’ Learning that you’re a girl in a way that is not necessarily positive in the sense that you’re going to have to work harder. especially when you’re a little black girl, you have to work twice as hard.” She thanked Whoopi Goldberg for her example over the years. 

Queen Latifah is now a seasoned vet when it comes to beauty and glamour and has led several campaigns for make-up, hair, and clothing. She is always a standout on red carpets as well. 

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