All Articles Tagged "Queen Latifah"
Queen Latifah’s cover of Variety is absolutely beautiful. Inside of the August 2015 issue, the actress addressed her versatility, the cancellation of “The Queen Latifah Show” and speculation about her sexuality. Peep some highlights from her interview below.
On refusing to remain in one lane:
“I felt like if I couldn’t say I was the best rapper — male or female — I wouldn’t put all my eggs in one basket. So it was always about trying to expand from the beginning, be it musically, business-wise, or other opportunities.”
On her transition to acting:
“(Musicians) are hustlers in lots of ways. We have to perform and express different personas for different records,” she says. “So selling it to the camera is a natural progression.”
On paying staff members out of her pocket after the cancellation of “The Queen Latifah Show:”
“I don’t know how that got out. Look, I was appreciative of how hard everybody worked, and felt we should be proud of what we did. It was bad timing, holidays were coming, and we wanted to make sure everyone would be OK through the New Year.”
On the speculation that playing an openly bisexual Bessie Smith may have caused:
“I know what I’m doing in my private life, and I know what I’m not, and I know me. And people who are not privy to that don’t know; they don’t know what they think they know. This is Bessie’s story. It has nothing to do with my life.”
Read her full interview here.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) August 5, 2015
We’ve been waiting for a while to discover who NBC would cast in the leading role of their production of “The Wiz Live!” The network announced that they were looking for a new fresh face and this morning on the “Today” show, they revealed it.
Shanice Williams, an 18-year-old New Jersey native, was selected from hundreds of applicants who auditioned across the U.S. for the iconic role.
Williams brings five years of musical training, including dance and piano to the role. Before she was offered this game-changing opportunity, Williams starred in several, local productions including West Side Story, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, 42nd Street, Seussical and Pippin.
Williams will star alongside the original Dorothy on Broadway, Stephanie Mills, who will play Auntie Em in this tv production. As we reported earlier Queen Latifah will play “The Wiz” and Mary J. Blige will play Evilene, the Wicked Witch of the West.
And NBC also announced that David Alan Grier will take on the role of the Cowardly Lion.
Kenny Leon, the man behind The Mountaintop, Stick Fly, A Raisin in the Sun and Lifetime’s remake of Steel Magnolias, will serve as the director.
The live production is set to air on December 3, on NBC.
You can check out Shanice’s skills in the video below.
— NBC (@nbc) August 5, 2015
We’ve been telling you for months about NBC’s production of the Broadway classic, “The Wiz.” Now, as the December air date nears, we’ve got some casting information to share with you.
According to Variety, one of the upcoming show’s executive producers Craig Zadan, made the announcement today. Latifah will play the role of the mysterious and powerful wizard in the Emerald City.
And Mary J. Blige will play Eveillene better known as the Wicked Witch of the West, who rules over the Winkies and Winged Monkeys.
As for Dorothy, NBC is still holding a nationwide search to find a new, fresh-faced talent.
Latifah and Blige join Stephanie Mills, the former Dorothy, who will play Auntie Em in this version.
The show will premiere on December 3 and later, a Cirque du Soleil stage version of the production will air on Broadway.
T.D. Jakes, DeVon Franklin, and Joe Roth are back in the lab.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the movie-making trio is in pre-production for a new film starring Queen Latifah and Jennifer Garner titled, Miracles From Heaven.
Based on the memoir bearing the same name, which is authored by Christy Beam, Miracles From Heaven tells the story of Beam’s daughter Annabel Beam’s miraculous healing after being diagnosed with an incurable, life-threatening digestive disorder.
Garner has been cast to play the role of the Beam. Latifah will be playing a Boston waitress, who steps into Beam and her daughter’s life as somewhat of an earthly angel. She builds a relationship with the girl as she and her mother visit the Boston Children’s Hospital. A brief synopsis of the book reads:
In a remarkable true story of faith and blessings, a mother tells of her sickly young daughter, how she survived a dangerous accident, her visit to Heaven, and the inexplicable disappearance of the symptoms of her chronic disease.
Annabel Beam spent most of her childhood in and out of hospitals with a rare and incurable digestive disorder that prevented her from ever living a normal, healthy life. One sunny day when she was able to go outside and play with her sisters, she fell three stories headfirst inside an old, hollowed-out tree, a fall that may well have caused death or paralysis. Implausibly, she survived without a scratch. While unconscious inside the tree, with rescue workers struggling to get to her, she visited heaven. After being released from the hospital, she defied science and was inexplicably cured of her chronic ailment.
The adaptation was penned by Randy Brown. It will be directed by Patricia Riggen. Roth, Franklin and Jakes joined forces for a similar film project last year, Heaven Is For Real, which earned more than $100 million worldwide.
We’ve been talking about this movie for months now. And tomorrow, you’ll finally be able to watch the story of legendary Blues singer Bessie Smith unfold. As someone who’s seen the film, I can tell you you’re in for a treat. Not only is it visually impeccable, the story and the performances are rich.
In anticipation of the television premiere of Bessie, we spoke to screenwriter and director for the project, Dee Rees, about how she approached the writing and directing of this piece and why it was so important for her to tell Bessie Smith’s story.
Though Rees is generations removed from the era when Bessie Smith toured and performed. She still had access.
“Bessie is someone who I kind of grew up with,” Rees said.
“My grandmother played her records, my mom played her. There’s this album that they had called One Mo Time, that was recorded from a 1979 a Black Vaudeville kind of sendup. And so that was something I remembered as a kid. So I was always curious about her life. She was a woman from Tennessee, a Black woman, a queer woman from Tennessee, who wasn’t afraid to be who she was.”
So when the she was approached with the opportunity to tell her story back in 2012, Rees said she “really wanted to get behind her eyes and see her worldview.”
But the process of obtaining information to do so wasn’t an easy one. Bessie Smith was born in the late 1800’s and government records at that time, particularly for Black people, weren’t always accurate, if they were kept at all.
Because she was born so long ago–even her birthdate, there’s no consensus–so the first thing I did was go to the public library and pull every book that I could find. And also there’s a book called “Blues Legacies and Black Feminism” by Angela Davis which is really, really great. It really conceptualizes Bessie. So I relied on that as my main text. I just did research. Even with the census records, there are three birth dates. Everything about this woman is in the gray area.
And while there wasn’t an abundance of information, Rees wanted to make sure the information she noted and eventually included in the film came from the primary source.
“I was careful to try to reconstruct her persona based on her voice versus what other people said about her,” Rees said. “So I would go to song lyrics, the songs that she herself wrote, not the songs others wrote for her and try to understand her personality, what she was interested in, what she was worried about. Because I think that the best way to know an artist is through their work. I started through her art to understand what was in her psyche.”
What she found and what was very prevalent in the movie was that Bessie Smith was very socially conscious and particularly concerned about the plight of Black people in this country. It was evidenced in Smith’s song lyrics.
“After a huge flood, she wrote one of her biggest hits, “Backwater Blues”. And she wrote that about the people who had been displaced. She was concerned the social ills of the time. She has a line that wasn’t in her recorded performance but one of her lines was “All my life I been making it, all my life White folks been taking it.” She was politically conscious. You know the Blues was an early form of social protest. She was very much interested in women’s empowerment even though her lyrics are misconstrued or over simplistically interpreted as misogynistic or encouraging domestic violence, by saying these things, she was creating a forum for women to be able to discuss these things. For her to be creating her art and putting forth the image she wanted to put forth, she was radical.”
In addition to her art, Bessie Smith was also herself when it came to her romantic life. She was in her prime at the turn of the century and during the “Roaring Twenties,” when living fast, loud and loose was something like the norm. Bessie Smith, as well as her mentor Ma Rainey, were very open with their sexualities. And while other historical accounts may gloss over this fact or speak about it briefly, it was important to Rees that Smith’s sexuality play a prevalent role in the story.
“Look how much she contributed. To suppress it would not make any sense. We wanted to talk about it in a real way and not in a scandalized way. That’s who she was. She was bisexual in a very matter of fact way.”
And for those who might not have known her personally, she put her sexuality in her lyrics too. In her 1930’s song, “The Boy in the Boat,” Smith says, “When you see two women walking hand in hand, just look ‘em over and try to understand: They’ll go to those parties—have the lights down low—only those parties where women can go.”
But Bessie’s music was more than just an expression of sexuality, it was an expression of the times. And, in many ways, her music, and Blues music in general, with its penchant for boldly telling the truth about Black life, was able to penetrate mainstream consciousness. The commercial success of her albums and eventually the radio play she received, introduced Black music and subsequently Black issues to White audiences. Black music would eventually include the songs of the Civil Rights Movement, used not only to unite and inspire the Black community but to inform Whites.
That’s what Rees wants audiences to take away from the film. The Black community owes a great debt to artists like Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. Their willingness to speak and sing candidly about being Black and female, opened doors.
Rees said, “These women’s work laid the foundation for the Civil Right’s Movement.” She wants audiences to note and respect the significance of their artistry but also show that Bessie Smith, who was the highest Black entertainer of her day, didn’t have to sacrifice who she was to make money or make a difference.
You can watch Bessie tomorrow, May 16 on HBO at 8 pm.
Dana Owens has made a career off of doing things her way. Hailing from Newark, New Jersey, she came onto the rap scene as a member of the Native Tongues crew with a star quality one just couldn’t help but pay attention to. Almost thirty years later, she is one of the most trailblazing women in Hollywood and done so while keeping it hip hop the whole way.
While she may be have played a significant role in hip hop’s landscape, she is one of most celebrated black actresses. She has a sitcom that has been in syndication for almost twenty years, a successful talk show, and am Oscar nomination. To commemorate her starring as the iconic-yet often unsung-entertainer Bessie Smith, this week’s Flashback Friday is dedicated to the Queen’s moments on the silver screen.
Flashback Friday: 10 Queen Latifah Movies We Love
Every time I think about Queen Latifah, I think, you can’t hold a good woman down. Throughout her entire career, she has been the master of diversification. From rapper, to actress, to jazz singer, to talk-show host.
After taking off her talk-show host hat, Queen Latifah is donning the actress hat once again in the upcoming HBO film, Bessie. In the film, there’s a moment when Bessie Smith, played by Queen Latifah, sits naked.
Doing so in front of a movie crew, was a new experience for the 45-year-old renaissance woman.
In a recent interview with Uptown Magazine, Latifah said, “I’ve never done that before.” Still, she didn’t let the newness of the moment prevent her from getting the job done.
“I don’t find [this nude scene] any more uncomfortable than kissing a girl in ‘Set It Off’ and stick to the script. You have to take your mind off of yourself and honor that character. Respect Cleo, respect Bessie.”
Sexuality plays quite a significant role in Bessie’s life story, and so Uptown asked Latifah how she felt audiences would perceive Bessie’s bisexuality being played out so vividly on screen.
“I’m not really sure how people will feel about [Bessie’s bisexuality]. It’s not like it’s a secret with her story. She was just free.”
But back in the day, the idea of a free sexuality wasn’t as taboo as it is today. Latifah said, “People’s ideas in general are antiquated when it comes to who you love. We haven’t moved as quickly as we probably should. And the reality is that there’s always been gay people in the black community, so it’s not foreign to us. And not just as a black community but just a society as a whole…Who you choose to marry is really up to you and it’s not something you should be judged on. I don’t find being gay or lesbian to be a character flaw. Couples should be protected under the laws of this country period. It actually angers me. It’s not unusual to let’s be adults and let’s move forward.”
Before all the TV shows, movies, commercials, and endorsement deals came through, some Hollywood celebs had to wake up in the morning and get their customer service on like the rest of us. With jobs ranging from a Burger King cashier to a singing waitress on a cruise ship, these stars have paid their dues. Check out 15 celebs who went from being sales associates and food service workers to becoming Hollywood stars.
This looks like it will be a great movie ladies!
The first full length trailer of the upcoming HBO movie, Bessie has finally hit the internet. The trailer features a glimpse of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in the biopic.
Written and directed by the talented Dee Rees, the biopic follows Bessie’s journey from a struggling blue songstress into the “The Empress of the Blues,” becoming one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s.
The trailer also highlights the stellar cast, including Michael K. Williams, Monique, Mike Epps, Tika Sumpter, Tory Kittles, Charles S. Dutton and Mama Pope, Khandi Alexander.
The biopic will premiere on Saturday, May 16th at 8PM on HBO.
I would like to encourage all of our readers to watch the biopic. Not only does it tell the story of beautiful black woman’s journey, but also because Dee Rees is one of the few black female writer/directors of our generation!
These rappers with autobiographies spare us no juicy detail (well some do) but we are constantly amazed at what they went through and how they transformed their lives and rose to stardom and a place of peace within themselves.
All images courtesy of book publication and WENN