Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Few Things You Don’t Know About Queen Latifah

 Courtesy of Lifetime

This weekend Queen Latifah takes on a daunting task — tackling the beloved role of M’Lynn created by Sally Field in the 1989 film Steel Magnolias. Field was nominated for a Golden Globe for the role of the over protective mother of Shelby, played then by Julia Roberts. Phylicia Rashad’s daughter, Condola, co-stars as Shelby and her real-life mother walks in Olympia Dukakis shoes as Clairee Belcher.

The all African-American cast certainly has big shoes to fill. But it’s not the first time Queen Latifah took a big chance on her career. Originally known strictly as a rapper, Latifah surprised fans when she started singing soul songs in 2003. Those who knew her music career didn’t expect her to sign-up for a sitcom role. But she did just that, playing Khadijah James on Living Single from 1993 to 1998. And anyone who underestimated her acting sops never would have predicted her Oscar-nominated turn in Chicago in 2002.

In a recent conference call, Queen Latifah talked about Steel Magnolias and her career. Here are a few things you might not know about her:

She Wears Two Hats on Steel Magnolias
Latifah serves as star and Executive Producer on the remake. She described her position behind-the-scenes, saying,My role is not to be the boss on the ground, so to speak, or the director to wear everyone else’s hat. But [it is] really to be someone who sees things from the gaps that need to be filled in my respect or from conversations that I hear of things that need to be taken care of. And that’s what I do.”

She continued, “Then I take that hat off and I give it back to them so that I can be an actor. So it’s not to act like I’m running the joint. It’s a team thing. And that’s where I come from when it comes to wearing these two hats.”

Music Motivates Her
The rapper and singer acknowledged that she often uses tunes to help her get into the right frame of mind on set. She revealed, “Music definitely informs my emotions. And I can literally play a song that will get me where I need to be emotionally. I don’t have to think about the tragic things that happened in my life or the greatest things that happened in my life. I can just play a song that reflects that. And I think that’s a good gift to have. Because a lot of actors have to really dig deep and go into deep parts to their lives and I don’t have to do that.”

She Has America in Mind When Choosing Material
Latifah explained her process for picking projects. “First of all it’s the quality of the material and also it’s who’s involved, who’s a part of what we’re going to do. And then I like to service the full audience of America at least. So I try to do things that are maybe just real artistic.”

She Bonded with Her Steel Magnolias Daughter
In the film she and Condola Rashad share a mother-daughter connection. But Latifah described how the co-stars meshed in real life, saying, “We just met as La and Condola. And we shared bonds over music. She can sing amazingly and we played music for each other. We played the records we love. And we listened to a lot of diverse groups and we just talked and we talked about what our visions were for things. She’s extremely, extremely well practiced, well versed. I knew she would show up for the job.”
Phylicia Rashad Was Like a Mother to Her
As for Rashad's off-screen mom, Latifah also expressed her deep affection. She admitted, “Clair Huxtable aside, Phylicia always reminded me of my mom. And she still does. She has like a very calming voice. She knows how to talk to you in very subtle, soothing, calming ways. But she knows how to give you that look that lets you know we’re about to go to the bathroom and you’re about to get a butt whooping when you mess up. But she’s funny. She’s amazing.”

She Wants to Be a Mother Herself
Although she wouldn’t say when, Latifah confirmed that motherhood is in her future. “I’ve always wanted to adopt since I was a child. I saw an ABC special and I’ve always wanted to adopt since I was a kid. And I love Eight is Enough. I’ve always loved the idea of having like a house full of people. I mean you’re the parents, where everybody can come and if something goes wrong they can crash there and you just make sure you call their parents to say your kid is here.”

She added, “That’s just how I envisioned things. And I know I’m running a little late. Okay. I know. But I’ve had a couple of things to do. But I’m the parent to many people whether you realize it or not. It just doesn’t look like it from the outside world. But I would absolutely adopt… It doesn’t have to be a baby, but kids need a home.”

Tune in to the premiere of Steel Magnolias on Sunday, October 7 at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. Central on Lifetime.

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