Love for Latifah: Queen La’s Best Hollywood Work

January 16, 2012  |  
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Although Queen Latifah’s latest feature film was the fourth highest grossing movie this past weekend, critics aren’t exactly shouting over  “Joyful Noise.” Well, you win some, you lose some. Even if “Joyful Noise” doesn’t turn out to be Queen’s most memorable work, we know the woman is talented. If you don’t believe me, allow me to refresh your memory with some of her best work.

 Set it Off

Nobody can tell me that Queen Latifah didn’t play the mess out of what would eventually become one of her more controversial roles. Cleopatra “Cleo” Sims was the hoodest, trillest, woman in the bank robbing crew. If you recall, she was the friend who suggested they rob a bank in the first place. The role only became controversial when speculations about Latifah’s sexuality started to fly. Apparently, her convincing portrayal of a lesbian was too real for some. Despite several probing questions, Latifah has remained “mum” on the subject, stating that other respected actors would never have to dignify these type of questions.

Secret Life of Bees (August Boatwright)

The matriarch of the Boatwright women, Queen Latifah really morphed herself into this character. Not that she’s not nurturing, practical and supportive in real life, but watching this movie, you could easily forget that it was Hip Hop royalty you saw on that screen.

Life Support (Ana Wallace)

In this independent film, which later appeared on HBO, Queen Latifah played Ana Wallace a woman living with HIV.  A former cocaine addict she contracted the disease from drug needles. Although she turned her life around and devoted her life to educating people about the virus, her teenaged daughter resents the 11 years her mother wasn’t there for her. It’s a challenging story that Queen tackled pretty well.

Chicago (Matron Mama Morton)

Mama was a trip wasn’t she? Written as a rich character in an already dazzling musical, Queen pulled from her jazz vocal background and comedic and dramatic flair to take this character to another level. For the first time in her acting career, the critics were starting to notice. The film won the Oscar for best picture that year and Latifah was also nominated for an Academy Award.

Bringing Down the House (Charlene Morton)

Was this movie riddled with stereotypes? Yes. Was the plot predictable? At times, yes. But that didn’t stop it from being hilarious. Sometimes you’d rather laugh than think. There is pure talent in comedic timing and delivery. The combination of Charlene’s rough edges, Peter’s (Steve Martin) uptightness and the fight scene with the white girl in the country club changing room are enough to make this movie a comedy classic. It didn’t do too bad at the box office either.

Juice (Ruffhouse M.C.)

One of her first roles, Latifah’s portrayal of Ruffhouse in “Juice” wasn’t that much of a stretch from the rapper persona she first presented to the public. Even though she was playing a rapper with a lashing tongue, a la “U.N.I.T.Y” it was nice to see that Latifah could hold her own convincingly on the screen. There was so much drama going on in “Juice” that you might not remember Queen La’s part. Then it’s about time you pop the DVD in.

Brown Sugar (Francine)

Queen Latifah played a supporting role in this classic romantic comedy but did she or did she not play it well? Francine was always the voice of reason for Sanaa Lathan’s character, Sidney. She knew her the best as was always able to see past that front she was always throwing up. You’ve got to watch Queen La because she can be quite the scene stealer. You remember the wedding scene when she almost blew up the whole spot with her threat of an objection.

Living Single (Khadija James)

“Living Single” wasn’t a feature film; but for many of us, Queen Latifah’s role as Khadija solidified the fact that this woman was something like a triple threat. She sang on the show occasionally, we already knew she could rap and her acting abilities had us feeling like Khadija was someone we really could relate to. She was a sister on the grind, trying to balance the pressure of being a good cousin, friend and girlfriend, whenever Scooter decided to do the right thing. Those are all of our struggles.


Is your favorite Queen La role on this list? If not let us know what we missed in the comments section.

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