by Selena Williams
She’s big and bossy. And what we like most about her is how she knows how to relate to people — with her touch, her eyes, her music.
To all of us in West Oakland, she’s more than glitter, she’s real.
She speaks her mind. For instance, she supports gays and lesbians, and rode in a pride parade. In her hometown in New Jersey, she offers scholarships to minority students in honor of her brother who died in a motorcycle accident.
“She is like a song that never gets old, like Oprah,” said Janaya Andrews, a sophomore at McClymonds.
She’s been around a long time. Queen Latifah burst onto the scene in 1989, one of three hip-hop artists to receive an Academy Award nomination in an acting category.
From her rap origins, she evolved into an actress, jazz singer and icon of classic good taste, without ever losing her edge. “I’m not that into trends,” she says, for starters. “I do my thing.”
Unlike Wendy Williams and Oprah, she adds comedy and originality to her show.
She’s also a plus-size spokesperson for CoverGirl cosmetics, Curvation ladies underwear, Pizza Hut and Jenny Craig. She represents her own line of cosmetics for women of color with CoverGirl Queen Collection. Latifah changed the game, becoming a role model for Black girls in West Oakland.
For those of us who don’t look like Britney Spears or Madonna, Latifah was the artist to follow and relate to. Black women were no longer eye-candy in hip-hop or rap videos: they took control of the mic. Few artists have had a bigger impact on West Oakland youth.
Now Queen Latifah returns to daytime television with a new talk show.
Co-produced by the hip Will Smith, through his production company Overbrook Entertainment, it features the usual celebrity interviews, hot topics and pop culture tropes and top tier musical acts.
For me, Queen Latifah is an idol who shows me that you can be famous as a musician and successful as a businesswoman.