Queen Latifah Lovingly Recalls How Her Mom Refused Her Stage Name: “I Ain’t Calling You Queen”

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Queen Latifah and Mom Portrait Session

Source: Al Pereira / Getty

While we’ve all known Dana Owens as “Queen Latifah” over the last 30 years, her late mother, Rita Owens, once refused to address her by her stage name.

The actress, singer, rapper and entrepreneur recently sat down with NBC Nightly News for a segment on Her Take with Cynthia McFadden and talked about the impactful moment where she discovered her stage persona. PEOPLE Magazine shared an exclusive clip of the segment on Wednesday.

However, her ascension to the throne began way earlier than we expected, when she discovered the name Latifah from a book of Arabic names at age 8.

She quickly decided to pair it with “Queen” and shared her new identity with her mom. “My mother kinda laughed. She was like, ‘Queen? I ain’t calling you Queen,'” Latifah recalled.

As she grew into her womanhood, Latifah said she began to love the name even more as it tied together the most important parts of herself.

“That’s the story of my life,” Latifah explains. “I think that’s the wonderful thing about a woman. We can be strong but then we can be soft and kind and sensitive.”

Latifah’s mom passed away in March 2018 after a long, private battle with a heart condition. During her last years, Latifah moved her mother into her home and served as her primary caretaker. The two shared a very close bond and were each other’s biggest supporters.

“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news my mother, Rita Owens passed away today,” Latifah shared in a statement to PEOPLE at the time of her mother’s death. “Anyone that has ever met her knows what a bright light she was on this earth. She was gentle, but strong, sweet, but sassy, worldly but pragmatic, a woman of great faith and certainly the love of my life.”

The full interview is scheduled to premiere tonight on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt at 6:30 p.m. EST.

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