Whether you know Queen Latifah as a hip-hop icon, sitcom legend, Oscar nominated actor, or romantic comedy queen, no one can deny that she changed the culture for the better.
Now, she can add “Lifetime Achievement Award Winner” to her untouchable resume, after being honored at the 2021 BET Awards on Sunday night, a “Year of the Black Woman” themed party.
Following in the footsteps of previous recipients, including Whitney Houston and Mary J. Blige, Latifah (née Dana Owens) was honored at the in-person ceremony at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles for her contribution to black music and pop culture at the during its decades. -covering career.
After an introduction by rapper MC Lyte, rapper Rapsody paid homage to Latifah by performing the shameless feminist rap anthem “Ladies First” with rapper Monie Love. Lil ‘Kim came out all white to perform “UNITY”, with MC Lyte also joining us.
Latifah took the stage to accept the award, gorgeous in a black, white, and pink dress with a cape.
“I want to thank BET for creating an outlet for the beautiful blackness to flourish, to shine, when we could not be broadcast on the radio and elsewhere,” she said in her speech. “We couldn’t play our videos elsewhere; there was BET which allowed us to be in our fullness and to shine.
Latifah also thanked her longtime business partner Shakim Compere, whom she says wouldn’t be on stage without her “dreams, aspirations and partnership.”
Ahead of the show, host Taraji P. Henson praised Latifah for carving out her place in multiple media, in turn allowing other black women to do the same.
“I want to tell her in person and on live TV how much she means to me and how much she inspired me,” Henson told Variety. “She built a brand. She was from hip-hop, she had a label and changed it, she became an executive producer on TV and had her own show. She did film after film. It simply reinvents itself.
Queen Latifah’s entertainment career began in the late 1980s, when she burst onto the hip-hop scene as an emcee and pioneer on her first studio record, “All Hail the Queen”. From the start, Latifah made her intentions clear with “Ladies First”, informing listeners in the opening verse that “a woman can endure you, break you, take you.”
“I have always celebrated woman because I was raised by a strong black woman, raised by a father who loves women,” Latifah said in her acceptance speech, while holding a picture of her late mother Rita Owens. “I wanted to celebrate us because I know that together we are stronger than we tear each other apart.”
“Respect to all the women entertainers on stage tonight. ”
His pioneering musical career continued with six more albums, including “Black Reign,” which featured his Grammy-winning single “UNITY”. Over time, Latifah began to move away from hip-hop and adopt sounds inspired by soul and jazz. in subsequent registrations.
As her music star was on the rise, Latifah was also making moves in Hollywood. In 1993, she landed her role on the sitcom “Living Single”, which went on to become an audience hit for Fox and one of the most watched and beloved black TV series of all time. During her tenure on the show, she also starred in the female-led heist film “Set It Off” alongside her friend Jada Pinkett Smith, who she would meet up with in the hit comedy “Girls Trip.” years later.
Latifah’s musical gifts have made her a rare talent on screen. She landed an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as matron “Mama” Morton in the acclaimed 2002 film adaptation of “Chicago”. She also won a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance. interpretation of blues legend Bessie Smith in the 2015 HBO TV movie “Bessie”.
Never content to stay on the same track too long, Latifah also started a talk show, “The Queen Latifah Show,” in 1999. She relaunched it almost 15 years later for a two-season broadcast on CBS with a total of 175 episodes in the can.
Latifah is currently starring in and producing the action series “The Equalizer,” which quickly became one of the most watched scripted series on network television this year and has been renewed for a second season.
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