Here’s What Queen Latifah Told Her Family After She Played a Lesbian in 'Set It Off'

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 16:  Queen Latifah attends the 2016 Fox Upfront at Wollman Rink, Central Park on May 16, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)

Here’s What Queen Latifah Told Her Family After She Played a Lesbian in 'Set It Off'

The 1996 film was groundbreaking for many reasons.

Published February 15, 2017

Queen Latifah's career speaks for itself in terms of length, acclaim and range, but for the Oscar-nominated actress, one role has stood out from the rest: when she played lesbian bank robber Cleo in Set It Off.

In the new issue of InStyle, Latifah opens up to Tracee Ellis Ross about why that role was so difficult for her to play — and what she told her family about the bold choice. Since rumors about the Queen's own sexuality appear to be an open secret to most, Twitter has thoughts on Latifah's comments, too.

“When I got the role of amateur bank robber Cleo Sims in Set It Off, I sat down with my younger siblings and told them, ‘Listen, I’m playing a gay character,'” Latifah says in the interview. “‘Your classmates might tease you or say negative things about it. But I’m doing it because I believe I can bring positive attention to the gay African-American community, and I believe that I can do a great job as an actor.’ They understood, and when those things inevitably happened in school, they were OK with it.”


  1. Flashback to Latifah playing Cleo in the groundbreaking film with this powerful scene:
  2. Twitter, of course, couldn't help put point out the obvious:

Latifah has always found a way to stay honest with her art but keep her private life private at the same time, and this interview is no exception. Watch her talk about playing the bisexual Bessie Smith in Bessie, above.

Written by Evelyn Diaz

(Photo: Noam Galai/WireImage)


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