The Untold Truth Of Queen Latifah

The following article includes mentions of sexual assault allegations.

Queen Latifah dropped her debut album "All Hail the Queen" in 1989, per Variety. The record was a success, peaking at the sixth spot on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and also earning the multi-talented star her first Grammy nomination. Then, in 1997, she won the best rap solo performance award for her album "U.N.I.T.Y." During this time, Queen Latifah also began to transition into acting

"I wouldn't put all my eggs in one basket," the rapper told Variety. "So it was always about trying to expand from the beginning, be it musically, business-wise, or other opportunities," she added. Queen Latifah received her first major acting gig thanks in part to Will Smith by appearing in his sitcom "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Soon after, she joined Spike Lee's 1991 film "Jungle Fever." Her most popular role came in the 2002 film version of the Broadway musical "Chicago." In the Oscar-winning movie, Queen Latifah played Matron "Mama" Morton, which happened to nab her a nom for best actress in a supporting role. Perhaps even more than acting, the star showed off her vocal pipes in her standout musical number "When You're Good to Mama."

But even a queen isn't immune to setbacks. From family tragedies to commercial flops, Queen Latifah has been through more than a few lows in her career, but this never stopped her from pushing through and delighting fans for decades. This is the untold truth of Queen Latifah.

How did Queen Latifah get her name?

When Queen Latifah landed a record deal at the age of 17, she was still going by her real name, Dana Elaine Owens, but turned to her cousin's own moniker and inspiration from her mother to adopt her soon-to-be-famous stage name, per Variety. Queen Latifah later explained on the "Rachael Ray Show" that "[her] mother raised [her] to believe that all women are queens and should consider themselves as such." Making for a sweet on-air moment, her mom was actually in the live studio audience. She also noted that she always loved that the meaning behind the name Latifah is "delicate, sensitive, kind, nice," which is why she chose it for her rap name. According to The Bump, this moniker of "Arabic origin" also means "gentle and pleasant."

Even though Queen Latifah has become the default name for the star, she makes sure to stay connected to her given name. "I'm going to take a little time and focus on Dana," she told The Hollywood Reporter after a project of hers was canceled. To move on, she planned to "focus on D-love for a minute and then I'll come back out swinging." She reminded fans to never count the queen out because, "I've been here for a while and I'm going to keep going."

The rapper's thoughts on relationships

For much of her career, people were interested in Queen Latifah's private life. This also included questions about her sexuality, but she preferred to keep that information a secret. "I don't have a problem discussing the topic of somebody being gay, but I do have a problem discussing my personal life," she said in a 2008 interview with The New York Times Magazine, adding, "I don't feel like I need to share my personal life, and I don't care if people think I'm gay or not. Assume whatever you want. You do it anyway." 

Though Queen Latifah was great at deflecting prying questions, she still felt the conversations needed to progress. "People's ideas in general are antiquated when it comes to who you love," she told Uptown magazine just a few months before the landmark Supreme Court decision to legalize same sex marriages nationwide in 2015. Noting that "who you choose to marry is really up to you and it's not something you should be judged on," the star added that any couple that wants to be married should have access to the same rights and protections, regardless of gender.

At all stages in her career, Queen Latifah showed her support for any type of relationship and personal expression. During her lifetime achievement award acceptance speech at the 2021 BET Awards, she made headlines for talking about her own partner toward the end. With her award in hand and throwing up two fingers, Queen Latifah said to the audience, "Peace. Happy Pride!"

Inside Queen Latifah's childhood

Queen Latifah grew up in New Jersey as Dana Owens. As a freshman in high school, she attended Catholic school. The following year, she transitioned to public school at Irvington High School, where her mom was a teacher, per The Undefeated. One of the future star's coaches remembered of her as a student basketball player: "She had two sides: She had a desire ... a vision, and she was fun." This showed in her aspirations, too, because Queen Latifah "wanted to be a marine biologist and a truck driver" as a kid, according to "The Wendy Williams Show." Instead, by the age of 19, she'd moved out to the Bronx and dropped her debut "All Hail the Queen" record.

Decades after becoming a celebrity, Queen Latifah returned to the Garden State to accept an honorary degree from Rutgers University in 2018. She reminded people in the audience, "I'm a Jersey girl born and bred," and said of her home state, "This place has shaped me" (via The Source). Queen Latifah credited her time growing up to helping with her career, explaining, "It's lessons I learned right here at home that made me the person I am."

On the personal side, Queen Latifah grew up with a big family, including stepsiblings from her dad's side. Even after becoming famous, the musician-actor said she stayed close with most of her extended family and credited her mother and father for providing her with "self-confidence," per The New York Times Magazine.

She 'never' wants to cover up her scar

One of Queen Latifah's most notable features, besides her charming smile, is a noticeable scar on her forehead. It's old news for the entertainer, who has had the scar since she was only three years old. While she was playing a game of tag with her brother, "I tripped over the telephone cord and hit my head on the corner of the bathroom wall," she told The New York Times Magazine. As a result, she had to get three stitches. Unfortunately, the young girl hurt her head again afterward when "[she] fell on [her] grandmother's steps and busted it open again." Queen Latifah explained that even though it might appear the scar was a result of being punished as a kid for misbehaving, it was just poor motor skills. "I was a clumsy child. It took me a while to catch up," she said.

Even with her high-profile roles and magazine covers later in life, Queen Latifah had no intentions of trying to conceal or be ashamed of her forehead mark. "I'd never cover it up ... it gives my face character," she told InStyle about using makeup to hide her scar (via the New York Post). Revealing how her scar had been airbrushed or edited out of certain publications' photos in the past, she told Variety that she didn't like the practice because she felt many readers had imperfections, too, and shouldn't be ashamed of their features. The star added, "I don't think we should try to make everything look perfect."

Queen Latifah has dealt with tragedy

Queen Latifah has always been closely entwined with her mother, Rita Owens. The elder Owens taught art at Irvington High School while Queen Latifah attended, and the two later founded the Flavor Unit Entertainment production company with the star's pal, Shakim Compere, per The New York Times Magazine.

Sadly, the family received difficult news in 2013, when Owens was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease systemic sclerosis, as well as heart failure. Queen Latifah admitted that even though she and her mom had "never even heard" of the disease, they quickly found out about its devastating effects. "I watched her face so many things — ups and downs, hospitalizations, the ICU — all while maintaining her sense of humor and her fight," the star told Parade. She did her best to stay positive and "lift [her mom's] spirits," but as the disease progressed, Queen Latifah admitted it took a personal mental toll. "It was an emotional roller coaster," she said. One of the hardest parts for the entertainer was watching the disease affect her mom and knowing that "[she] couldn't stop it." Queen Latifah credited her cousin, Tina, for caring for her mother, which allowed her to continue working while knowing that Owens was in good hands. 

When Owens died in 2018, Queen Latifah told People, "My mom was the most important person in my life and the loss took a huge toll on me." Noting that she would always keep the "memory" of her mom close by, she added, "Everything queenly about me came from my mother."

The feud between Queen Latifah and Foxy Brown

Back in 1996, Queen Latifah ignited a controversy with rapper Foxy Brown. For her performance in the movie "Set It Off," Queen Latifah also contributed to the film's soundtrack. One of the songs that appeared on the film, "Name Callin'," featured the lyrics, "Name callin' hasn't fallen into what I'm runnin' / I wouldn't dis another sista unless she had it comin'" (via Genius). 

Some felt Queen Latifah's tone in the song was closer to her movie character, but since she and Brown were reportedly feuding at the time, the latter took the diss directly. Fighting back, the rapper appeared on the song "10% Dis." In addition to hinting that Queen Latifah likes women (via Genius), Brown also claimed that her enemy would ogle her during industry appearances, as Lipstick Alley recapped. The back and forth continued, next with Queen Latifah's song "Name Callin' Part 2," where she called out Brown's tendency to wear minimal clothing while performing. She also acknowledged her enemy's trash-talk with the lyrics, "I'm not trippin', I heard you rippin'" (via Genius).

While Foxy Brown came back at Queen Latifah with "Talk to Me," the feud appeared to be dwindling. Any questions of animosity between the two women ended during an episode of "The Queen Latifah Show" in 2000. The titular host welcomed her former foe as a musical guest. Prior to Brown's performance of "Na Na Be Like," Queen Latifah enthusiastically introduced the artist as "Def Jam's First Lady."

What happened to The Queen Latifah Show?

"The Queen Latifah Show" was a syndicated talk show and 2013 reboot of a similar short-lived series that originally aired from 1999 to 2001. Sadly, the revamped series was canceled after two seasons in late 2014.

According to The Wrap, the show's viewership — though nabbing the top spot in daytime talk show ratings by the end of Season 1 — was reportedly too low to continue. Another reason may have been the "competitive" landscape, considering two other talk shows debuted around the same time, one hosted by Tyra Banks and the other by Jerry O'Connell. An insider claimed of Queen Latifah's show, "When they launched the second season, they knew it was make or break time." Meanwhile, another source felt it may have been Queen Latifah herself who had no desire to continue the show after the end of her initial contract.

In light of the cancellation, Queen Latifah had positive things to say about her hosting duties. "As I look back on it, I'm in shock at how many people have come on the show, supported the show and all the great things," she told The Hollywood Reporter. In addition, she said, "I've been able to spend other people's money to change people's lives, which is the best thing to be able to do." She thanked all her viewers for tuning in and said of the entire experience, "I feel really honored." Though the series didn't last too long, Queen Latifah had hosted an impressive 248 shows when the finale aired in March 2015.

Details about Queen Latifah's partner

During her speech at the 2021 BET Awards, fans were happy to see Queen Latifah on stage to accept the lifetime achievement award for her impressive career in entertainment. The rapper-actor also dropped some shoutouts at the end that took some people completely by surprise. When Queen Latifah thanked, "Eboni, my love," it marked her first time she openly spoke about her long-speculated relationship with dancer Eboni Nichols, according to The Cut

The two first met in 2009 while Queen Latifah was on set for "Dancing With the Stars," per Radar. Nichols, who used to cheerlead for the Los Angeles Lakers, later became a choreographer. According to her Emmys biography, Nichols has choreographed a wide range of shows and events like the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, the American Music Awards, and the TV sitcoms "Jane the Virgin" and "Fresh Off the Boat." Rumors of a relationship between Queen Latifah and Nichols first started in 2013, when the two celebs were seen locking lips in Italy. After allegedly breaking up in 2015, the two reportedly reconciled and were seen together in 2018 on another exotic vacation, Radar reports. 

Though Queen Latifah and Nichols have long kept their relationship private in terms of interviews, the couple haven't shied away from attending high-profile events together. For example, the pair watched tennis star Serena Williams play three different times at the 2019 U.S. Open in New York, Radar reported, around the same time that they attended the MTV VMAs together.

Queen Latifah and Eboni Nichols welcomed a child

In addition to thanking her partner, Eboni Nichols, during her 2021 BET Awards acceptance speech, Queen Latifah also mentioned, "Rebel, my love" — which, you may have already guessed, also marked the first time she talked about their son in public, according to The Cut

Back in 2018, Nichols was spotted by paparazzi looking clearly pregnant. The following year, Queen Latifah and Nichols reportedly welcomed a child together. However, the news was delivered by insiders since Queen Latifah never publicly announced Rebel's birth, per Radar. A source cited by the outlet claimed that after growing her family, "Latifah has never been so full of life! Eboni and the baby have given Latifah something very special to live for."

Some in Hollywood may have already known about Rebel, according to insiders close to Queen Latifah. Jason Lee, a longtime acquaintance of hers and the co-host of "Hollywood Unlocked," claimed that the star was at first hesitant to show him a photo of Rebel. In reference to her BET Awards speech, Lee said on his show, "I was surprised she talked about this, because the last time I saw her was at the All-Star game. I was there walking by, and she was showing a picture of Rebel to Kim Kardashian." After jokingly telling Queen Latifah that he's "known [her] way longer than [Kardashian]," he finally caught a glimpse of Rebel. According to Lee, Rebel is "the cutest kid ever. Period."

Riding around town with the multi-talent

While many celebs have extravagant cars to drive around Los Angeles, Queen Latifah prefers transportation via two wheels. She has been spotted riding around town in a yellow and purple motorcycle, the Daily Mail reported in 2013. Clearly unfazed by crowded roads, she reportedly weaved through traffic jams in her colorful Honda CBR. She stayed casual in her outfit, wearing sweatpants and high-top sneakers along with her black helmet and Nike zip up. Queen Latifah also stayed safe by wearing a motorcycle helmet. 

Her time on a motorbike can often be a highlight of the day. With her hands in so many projects at once, Queen Latifah said it can be difficult to have energy left for personal enjoyment. "I'd rather read something that I like or watch a program I enjoy or ride my d**n motorcycle or throw back a couple of shots of tequila with my friends," she told The New York Times Magazine. To her, the most important things are "laughing and joking and actually living life."

Sadly, her relationship with motorcycles hasn't always been positive. Her brother, Lance Owens, tragically died in 1992 in a motorcycle accident, per OK! magazine. This was right after Queen Latifah bought a house with plans to live with her brother and their mom. "Losing my brother, that was a devastating time for me," she explained on "Untold Stories of Hip Hop" (via OK!). To remember her brother, Queen Latifah reportedly "wear[s] the key to [his] motorcycle around her neck," according to the Daily Mail.

How Queen Latifah became The Equalizer

As the host of her eponymous talk show, Queen Latifah had a chance to interview some of the biggest names in Hollywood. One of the most famous was acting legend Denzel Washington, who was a guest in 2014 to promote his movie "The Equalizer." The flick, which was the first of two starring Washington, had been adapted from "The Equalizer" TV show from the '80s. During their interview, Queen Latifah expressed her admiration for the film's action sequences, leading the two stars to engage in hand-to-hand fighting techniques. per The Washington Post. "So, you can hurt somebody," an impressed Washington quipped to Queen Latifah, who joked in response, "Yeah, you want to leave me alone."

Neither could have predicted the role reversal in years to come. Immediately following the 2021 Super Bowl, "The Equalizer" returned as a CBS TV series. This time around, Queen Latifah stepped in as the lead character, former CIA agent Robyn McCall, and became "only the fourth Black woman to headline an hour-long network drama," according to The Washington Post. "What Denzel did with the feature films has been incredible," she told the press. "If anything, he set a bar in a way but also gave us a lot of room to go a completely different direction."

More than making history, Queen Latifah later had a chance to reunite with one of her favorite co-stars, Jada Pinkett Smith, having previously worked together on "The Secret Life of Bees," "Girls Trip," and "Set It Off," Deadline recapped.

What are her thoughts on former co-star Chris Noth?

Joining "The Equalizer" on TV was a huge opportunity for Queen Latifah as the main character. The show was so successful that CBS gave the drama a Season 2 renewal after airing only four episodes, per The Washington Post. In addition to Queen Latifah, the show featured actor Chris Noth, who was well known as Carrie Bradshaw's love interest, John "Big" Preston, in the "Sex and the City" franchise. However, the 2021 reboot of the HBO series, called "And Just Like That...," "trigger[ed] ... two women" to speak out against Noth and accuse him of sexual assault, per The Hollywood Reporter.

As a result, Noth was fired from "The Equalizer" after working with Queen Latifah on the show since 2020. "Chris's character's obviously a big part of the show and it was amazing chemistry, amazing chemistry," she recalled to People about their times on set. In light of the allegations and his exit from the series, she said, "My feeling is justice has to prevail regardless. I just want the right things to be done, you know?" Queen Latifah called the entire situation "delicate" and added that, for Noth, "that's a personal thing that he's going to have to deal with."

Queen Latifah previously spoke about the allegations of sexual assault against Bill Cosby, who had been scheduled to appear as a guest on her talk show but canceled. Queen Latifah told People that she "absolutely" would have asked him about the allegations.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Shooting hoops with Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah stands at nearly 5 feet 10 inches in height, according to Celeb Heights. So, it's perhaps no surprise that the actor and entertainer played basketball when she was younger. As a sophomore, Queen Latifah, who was then known as Dana Owens, joined the Irvington High School women's basketball team in 1985. The coach, Vinny Smith, remembered how she looked impressive from the first time she stepped on court, telling The Undefeated that his "first thought" was, "This is going to be a good player." Sure enough, the team went on to win the New Jersey state title twice with Queen Latifah.

In MTV's "Rock N' Jock" series from the '90s, celebrities mixed with professional athletes playing softball and basketball together, Sportscasting recapped. The series was so popular it received an Emmy nomination for outstanding game show. Beyond the nomination, one of the highlights from the "Rock N' Jock B-Ball Jam" was Queen Latifah. At one point in the game, she was playing defense when professional Shawn Kemp from the now-defunct Seattle SuperSonics dribbled toward her. The rapper-actor didn't back down and called for a one-on-one against the baller. 

A video from the event shows Kemp try to cross-up Queen Latifah and pass her, but she sees the trick coming. After stealing the ball away, she dribbles to the basket and sinks a layup — the crowd and announcers go nuts. Queen Latifah said about her impressive on-court moves (via The Undefeated), "I don't fear nobody out here! Nobody."

The charitable side of Queen Latifah

Throughout her career, Queen Latifah has been a champion of helping out others — like when she co-hosted the sixth annual Night of Generosity Gala in Beverly Hills to support providing clean water to places in need. The event, which included celebrities like Megan Fox and her ex, Brian Austin Green, raised over half a million dollars and helped fund clean water projects, per The Hollywood Reporter

More than just communities in need of water, Queen Latifah has been involved in several other philanthropic efforts. Her Queen Collective is a partnership with Procter & Gamble to provide funding, production, and exposure to promising female filmmakers. According to People, the star personally mentors each selectee to the program.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Queen Latifah collaborated with the American Lung Association to raise funds for underprivileged Black and Latino communities. She also helped other communities when she and her mom founded the Lancelot H. Owens Scholarship Foundation in 1992 to provide college scholarships to promising students in the New Jersey and New York areas. "You have to reach back because at the end of the day, you have to allow kids to learn what their talent is," Queen Latifah told Variety. She added of the kids selected for the scholarships, "How can you not root for the underdog in life and give back?"

How much is Queen Latifah worth?

For all her endeavors, Queen Latifah gets royally paid. With her wide range of talents in Hollywood — including her original break into the industry through rapping to acting, producing, and hosting — the multi-talent has kept fans entertained for decades. With no signs of slowing down, Queen Latifah seemed poised to grow her bank account even more. As of 2022, she was worth $70 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

With some of her money, Queen Latifah has chosen to live in homes fit for a queen. In addition to owning an impressive place in Hollywood Hills West until selling the property for $1.65 million in 2015, per the Los Angeles Times, she has also lived on the opposite coast, close to where she grew up in New Jersey. Coming back home as a celebrity, she definitely lived in style: Her huge home in the Colts Neck area included a huge outdoor pool in addition to a movie theater. She purchased the estate in 2001 as her first property in the state. Technically, Queen Latifah sold the house at a loss but still walked away with $2.1 million, Today recapped.

"My wealth is emotional wealth and family wealth. It is important to me. Financial wealth then springs from that," Queen Latifah told Grow. Noting that the "goal" can't simply be to "keep making money," she added, "There has to be some end game that you say, 'OK. What do I need to make sure my family is good? To make sure I'm good, that my community is good?'"