She may be best known for her hard-core lyrics and quick-to-dis wit, but rapper-turned-actress Queen Latifah says there are more facets to her crown. ”A lot of the roles I’ve been given have been me cursing somebody out,” says the Queen, ”but that’s not how I am. I don’t just yell at people for no reason. And I won’t be stereotyped.”
That’s evident in her new series, Living Single. The self-proclaimed female ruler of hip-hop trades in her microphone for a Macintosh, portraying the outspoken owner and editor of Flavor magazine — an urban style journal that takes its name from her real-life record label, Flavor Unit. ”This is a chance for me to be a normal girl from around the way who’s just trying to make it,” says Latifah (her real name is Dana Owens; Latifah is Arabic for ”delicate and sensitive”). As owner and CEO of her own record label and artist management company, she is just as much an entrepreneur as her character.
Latifah, 23, who lives single in Wayne, N.J., when she’s not on the set in L.A., had small girl-in-the-hood roles in Juice and Jungle Fever and appeared on NBC’s Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She gets her first major film role as a hospice worker tending to a cancer patient played by Michael Keaton in December’s My Life — another move beyond ”those screamin’, shoutin’ roles” she deems so limiting. ”The way I’m represented on screen is real important to me because I already have a lot of people who respect me through my music, and I have to be true to those people.”
Confident with both her musical career and her business savvy, Latifah is % raring to take on new areas of show biz. ”I’m kinda fresh out of the water, but once I figure out the way the game is played, I’ll be able to move more freely in it.” Beware, Hollywood — it looks like the ball is in the Queen’s court.