Latifah’s wish: All the times Queen Latifah slayed in film and TV
Queen Latifah is slated on to star in the upcoming Hope’s Wish from Laurie Collyer (Sherrybaby). Based on the true story of a terminally ill 12-year-old girl who sets out to fund the wishes of all other health-challenged children in her area, the movie sounds full of feelgood inspiration and probably more than a few tears.
It’ll also hopefully allow audiences to see more of Latifah’s shining on-screen talent. Whether in dramatic, musical, or comedic roles, Latifah has been laying down some iconic performances since the 90s. Here are ten of the times Latifah slayed her performance, ranked from decent to crownworthy.
10. Scary Movie 3 (2003)
Say what you like about the Scary Movie franchise, but Latifah absolutely killed it in the third instalment as Aunt ShaNeequa – a farting, chain-smoking parody of The Oracle from The Matrix franchise.
9. 30 Rock (2006 – 2013)
Regina Bookman: “Let’s Stay Together” (2010)
Playing a grandstanding congresswoman who demands more diversity in programming, Latifah delivers an over-the-top speech with all the hilarious gusto of someone starting a revolution (or vying for a shiny award.)
8. Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Marc Forster’s quirky dramedy featured a low-key performance from Latifah as a publishing assistant hired to help caustic writer Karen (Emma Thompson) finish her book. The role showcased Latifah’s skill for quiet intensity and her ability to convey some serious humor with little more than a loaded glance.
7. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990 – 1996)
Dee Dee: “She Ain’t Heavy” (1991)
Filling the role of Dee Dee in the episode “She Ain’t Heavy”, Latifah was one of the best guest stars in the history of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Dee Dee challenges Will’s vain sensibilities by showing him that personality and enjoying a lit vibe with someone is way more important than getting a honey with a tight body. Latifah’s especially magnificent when she starts flirting with Will by sticking two chopsticks up her nose as if it’s the classiest act in the world.
6. Star (2016 – )
In Star, Latifah proves there’s definitely space for a female M.C. in the world of musicals. Though Carlotta is a manager rather than one of the lead singers of the show, Latifah elevates the role with her shining & always-sassy presence.
5. Hairspray (2007)
Latifah managed to land this role ahead of soul queen Aretha Franklin (The Blues Brothers), which says everything you need to know about just how powerful and impressive her performance is. This mainstream remake of the 1988 John Waters classic sees Latifah playing an R&B DJ passionately involved in the fight against segregation.
4. Living Single (1993 – 1998)
Khadijah is one of the most iconic and beloved characters of any 90s sitcom, and a great deal of that is thanks to Latifah’s natural comedic charm. Her energy bounds through every scene she’s in and punchlines snap off her lips like firecrackers.
3. Girls Trip (2017)
Reuniting with Jada Pinkett Smith (The Matrix Reloaded), Latifah was on form alongside Regina Hall (Scary Movie 4) & Tiffany Haddish (Keanu) in this raucous comedy tribute to female friendship. Especially once the absinthe kicks in.
2. Set It Off (1996)
As lesbian bank robber Cleo, Latifah was one of the first black and queer leading female characters in a mainstream movie. Her performance in Set It Off also happens to be incredible – she’s the most boisterous and loud of a formidable set of friends (including characters played by Pinkett Smith and Vivica A. Fox), but there’s also a delicate manner to her which is incredibly endearing to watch.
1. Chicago (2002)
Matron Mama Morton
In Rob Marshall’s Oscar-winning musical adaptation Chicago, Latifah is sultry and charismatic but also strong and threatening. Which is exactly what you’d expect from the queen of the cell block, right?