By definition, icons want no introduction—however right here’s a fast roundup of the accomplishments that completely place Queen Latifah in that echelon. There’s the *extraordinarily* prolonged checklist of titles (she is the OG multi-hyphenate) and accolades (most just lately, the Lifetime Achievement Award on the 2021 BET Awards); her game-changing presence on the hip-hop scene; and a long time of labor in entrance of and behind the digicam on movie and TV.
Then there’s the mark she’s made within the magnificence world, breaking limitations and advocating for extra inclusive definitions of what “magnificence” even means, to not point out the house she’s helped carve for Black girls within the leisure trade extra broadly. And now, after three-plus a long time of public presence, there’s a brand new matter she’s tackling head-on: In collaboration with Novo Nordisk’s “It’s Larger Than Me” marketing campaign, Queen Latifah is utilizing her personal expertise to assist dismantle the stigmas surrounding weight problems.
Regal in her signature slicked-back ponytail, hoop earrings, and polka-dot shirt, the actor took a break from filming her hit TV collection The Equalizer (returning for season 2 on October 10 on CBS, btw!) to speak about discovering that she fell into the “overweight” class herself and navigating the trail ahead. “For me, on the finish of the day, none of it actually issues so long as you’re wholesome, you will have the selection to reside the life you need to reside, and also you’re not blocked from the profession you need to have,” she tells Cosmo. Learn on for extra about her life as a “large lady” within the trade—and what she’s realized about caring for her entire self.
For lots of ladies who have been “large women,” we grew up with that label. What have been a number of the early messages you obtained about your physique and dimension?
- 1 For lots of ladies who have been “large women,” we grew up with that label. What have been a number of the early messages you obtained about your physique and dimension?
- 2 Did you ever really feel such as you needed to change your physique so as to achieve success within the trade?
- 3 Pondering again in your early profession, I bear in mind your TV debut on the Contemporary Prince of Bel-Air. The episode was about how Will was not drawn to your character after he noticed she was heavier. Are you able to discuss taking up these sorts of roles?
- 4 How vital was it so that you can be a illustration of a giant lady for different Black girls and for giant women on the whole?
- 5 You’re on the heart of so many intersecting identities. What has it been like so that you can navigate Hollywood as a heavier Black lady notably?
- 6 Converse a bit of bit about how navigating these weight problems stigmas impacted you as an individual and an artist.
- 7 What does help appear like for you?
That’s very attention-grabbing—as a result of it’s all good till any person tells you you’re not speculated to be a giant lady or they convey a adverse connotation to you being a giant lady or they’re not celebrating you being a giant lady or they don’t need to provide the job since you’re a giant lady—that’s the place the issue and the stigma is available in. There’s not a celebration of being a “large lady”—there’s truly a disgrace connected to it, and that’s what begins to chip away at our vanity. These may need been some factors of competition for me rising up, as a result of, earlier than that, it was like: I’m simply who I’m.
Did you ever really feel such as you needed to change your physique so as to achieve success within the trade?
You hear about sure folks within the enterprise, what they did to get their physique for an upcoming undertaking—they starved and educated; they didn’t eat for 2 weeks. You’re listening to all these items and making an attempt to determine: Okay, is that what I’ve to do to be a profitable rapper or profitable actor? Is that going to hinder me from carrying out my objective?
However clearly, I didn’t let any of that cease me. I simply turned extra educated about loads of issues alongside the way in which. Once I wished to lose a certain quantity of weight for a particular film, I labored with a coach, and that’s after I realized that I fell into the class of “overweight.” That’s additionally after I realized I may do one thing about it and take a look at it from a special perspective.
Pondering again in your early profession, I bear in mind your TV debut on the Contemporary Prince of Bel-Air. The episode was about how Will was not drawn to your character after he noticed she was heavier. Are you able to discuss taking up these sorts of roles?
I felt like I had one thing to talk to, like I may relate and so I may play roles like that. I’ve been on each side of it, to be trustworthy with you: I’ve met girls notably who’ve mentioned, “Oh, my daughter is so impressed by you,” being my dimension, being statuesque, being an even bigger lady. And I’ve met people who find themselves stunned that I used to be not as large as they thought I used to be. They’d be like, “Oh, you skinny,” and I virtually felt insulted—like, “Who you calling skinny?!” And I additionally felt like: Dang, did I let my large women down? I’m speculated to be representing.
How vital was it so that you can be a illustration of a giant lady for different Black girls and for giant women on the whole?
It was all vital for me to try this. I noticed my mom as an educator represented by way of pictures in Essence journal and thru Ebony journal—simply seeing lovely Black girls who jogged my memory of my mother, my aunts, and my grandmother. I knew for my technology—the hip-hop technology—it was vital that our voices lower by way of and that we have been allowed to be heard as nicely. There weren’t as many people. However we had one thing to say, and if one in every of us broke by way of, folks heard us.
I knew it was vital for us to empower ourselves and feed different girls vanity. To say: Hey, girls first. U.N.I.T.Y. You don’t need to be out right here combating within the streets over any person or over one thing silly or tearing one another aside—let’s carry one another up. It was all the time vital to share these messages as a result of I do know we wanted it. Black girls are all the time being torn down by the world so we have to construct one another again up wherever we are able to discover that place.
I’m lucky to have an incredible work companion in Shakim Compere, [my production company] the Taste Unit, my mother, my father, my household—the entire crew. However notably, I’ve been lucky to determine a few folks within the enterprise who suppose exterior the field. In case you’re pondering contained in the field, you’re not going to rent me. However for those who suppose exterior the field and you’ve got a artistic thoughts, then you’ll rent me—you’ll take a look at somebody like me and say, “There’s lots of people who appear like her. She must be represented, and people girls who appear like her should be represented as nicely.”
A whole lot of what you’ve seen me do in my profession is what we began. Not one thing an company delivered to me or somebody created for me: It’s been us creating lanes for ourselves. It’s been me having to kick down the door—but in addition go away the door open behind me so another person can come by way of. Magnificence Store is an ideal instance as a result of I may present [Black women] in all of our divine glory in one in every of our favourite locations. I attempt to make a few of these experiences and challenges relatable in order that Black girls see ourselves. So it wasn’t about what film do I need to do subsequent. It was: What film do I need to produce and the way can we convey extra folks in?
I’m the daughter of activist dad and mom. So when issues occur, we don’t typically simply sit there and take it—we provide you with an answer. Day by day I’m going to work, I take into consideration how I can proceed to verify we’re represented. That is work, however it’s definitely worth the it as a result of it means the subsequent technology can hopefully have it a bit simpler or have extra alternatives due to the work we put in.
You get hit with one thing and it hurts your emotions, and also you’re like: Dang, actually? Or actually, once more? Or: You don’t need to hear this from me? Someone else can say it to you, however I can’t? Then it’s like: I’m clearly not lower out to be just right for you, so I’m going to have to determine tips on how to work for myself as a result of I must have the ability to design my life. Folks bled and died in order that I may have that chance. I’m going to take it.
What does help appear like for you?
As I’ve grown by way of the years, I’ve realized that I’ve to verify in: to cease, keep nonetheless for a second, and ask, “How do I really feel? Am I hurting?” I’m not superwoman. I’m robust, however I’m not a troublesome man—I can play one on TV, however I’m delicate too. I’m a Pisces. Typically I resolve I’m going to go have a superb cry and let it out. Typically I might have to speak to any person about what I’m feeling. Typically I must go to the physician and say, “I am feeling this, I’m feeling that. Am I okay? What’s my baseline? The place do I stand? How’s my coronary heart?” After which they let me know.
That’s how I’ve come to be as a result of I do know the opposite facet of it, which is completely testing and being like, ‘You realize what, I’m gonna take 10 photographs and I’mma name it a day.” However that’s not who I need to be or the life I need to reside. If I used to be my finest buddy, I’d inform me: “You been working onerous, lady—you want a break. Did you eat right now? You realize what, have some tea. When’s the final time you’ve been to the physician?” These are the issues that I want to inform me. These are the issues I bought to do.
This interview has been calmly edited for size and readability. To be taught extra in regards to the It’s Larger Than Me marketing campaign, go to ItsBiggerThan.com.
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