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.”
@TamaraTanatsa Queen Latifah said playing gay on Set it off was hard for her but I could have sworn she been dating women her whole life lol— Rachel Danielleⓡⓐⓒⓗ (@nayashay18) February 15, 2017
Queen Latifah did not say playing Cleo, a gay character, was her most difficult role to play in a film. 😂 If she don't get..— SANCHEZ (@asvp_gold) February 15, 2017
Queen Latifah said her toughest role was playing gay in Set It Off. But... pic.twitter.com/LZT7utwNaz— Nequita S Hunter (@NeQuitaHunter) February 14, 2017
Queen Latifah said playing a gay character in set it off was the hardest but I thought She was gay in real life— STLBLUES/CARDS (@deniselita) February 14, 2017
I didn't know QueenLatifah was gay 🙄— sunshine☀️ (@SunnyTheG) February 13, 2017
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.
(Photo: Noam Galai/WireImage)