On Friday, May 14, Queen Latifah returns to the big screen, in her first leading role since 2008's The Secret Life of Bees, with the romantic comedy, Just Wright.
Latifah has had the career that the grandest of dreams are made of. For over 20 years, she has consistently conquered music, television and film. ‘Queen L-A-T-I-F-A-H in command’ is a Grammy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award winner, BET Honors '10 honoree and an Oscar nominee for her portrayal of Matron Mama Morton in the 2002 musical, Chicago.
Dana "Queen Latifah" Owens has reinvented herself many times over, always ending up on the right side of the tracks. But this humble diva keeps things in perspective, crediting her inner circle which includes business partner Shakim Compere. "We're not Hollywood, we're not snotty people. We're about the work and what we do. We are about the dreams that we have. We are not caught up in all the hype. You'll do this interview and I might not see it or read it. I'm not like, 'I can't wait ’til this comes out!' Queen Latifah outgrew me a long time ago; it became a business, a brand." Latifah adds, "La is who La is, Dana is who Dana is -- I'm me. I'm the person living the life that is underneath all that brand."
Now, the Queen's brand is delivering Just Wright. Produced by Queen Latifah, it is Love & Basketball meets Sex and the City. The Fox Searchlight film follows physical therapist and basketball enthusiast, Leslie Wright. She is a single woman in the city who meets men who mostly view her as more of a friend than serious relationship material. Her life changes when she meets Scott McKnight, played by Common in his first leading role. Leslie struggles with love, not sure what she is doing wrong but refusing to settle. Latifah explains, "You got a career, you're trying to date, you're trying to find love in the big city -- it's not easy and you don't want to just settle for anything, but you do want to make some kind of connection. So, you keep putting yourself out there until it happens."
It's a space with which many women can identify. But can someone who has been famous for over 20 years relate? "I've definitely had a couple dating experiences like that, but it was also mutual where I kind of felt like, 'Hey, he's cool but I'd rather just kick it with him, I don't really feel that connection.' That's a good thing, if you don't feel it, say it and nip it in the bud. Plus, I think Leslie is not the type of girl who will just settle for anybody."
Just Wright is the latest addition to the long list of Latifah’s accolades. Furthermore, the “Ladies First” songstress always makes sure her art and creativity remain the highest priority. “I do what I love from day one. I’ve turned down a whole bunch of money a lot of times. People would be like, ‘What are you doing?’ All money is not good money. It's more important that you do something you love. If you’re doing that then you have a career. You have something that can have longevity.”
Just Wright is in theaters Friday, May 14. Click here for the trailer!
Clay Cane is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com. You can read more of his work at claycane.net.