'It Was Just a Gang for God'

Queen Latifah on accepting the 'divine design' and what she has in common with her character in 'Last Holiday'

BY: Interview by Ellen Leventry

 

Queen Latifah rings in the New Year playing Georgia Byrd, a reserved, church-going New Orleans department-store worker, in "The Last Holiday," a remake of the 1950 movie of the same name. When diagnosed with a terminal illness, Georgia throws caution to the wind, quits her job, turns to her "Book of Possibilities"--a repository of all her hopes and dreams--and heads to Europe to accomplish everything she'd been putting off. Like Georgia, Queen Latifah chased her dreams and achieved them. A pioneer in the rap world, her debut album "All Hail the Queen" is considered one of the best hip-hop albums of all time. She has also conquered the small screen, starring in the hit sitcom "Living Single" for five seasons and hosting a talk show for two. Queen Latifah, born Dana Owens, made her movie debut in Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever," and was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Mama Morton in "Chicago."



Contributing Editor Ellen Leventry spoke with Queen Latifah recently about her own spiritual journey and what she would do with only three weeks to live.

How would you describe your own spirituality?

I was baptized a Baptist, but I'm just Christian, as far as I'm concerned. I could go in any church, doesn't matter if it's Baptist, Protestant, Episcopal, or Catholic.

In the movie, the character you play, Georgia Byrd, has a "Why Me?" moment during a choir number at a church service. You've experienced some hard times in your life, including the passing of your brother in a 1995 motorcycle accident. Did you ever have a "Why, God? Why, me?" moment?

A 'Why Me' Moment
I definitely had a "why" moment--"Why us? Why my mom?" You know... "Why my dad?" When my brother passed away, that was definitely a "why?" I don't even know if it was just a "why me?" But it was surely a big old "why." And luckily I was able to come through that and kind of open myself up to the divine design of it all. That's not something that I liked or expected. I felt my family was my strongest foundation and didn't think anyone could touch us like that, anything could touch us in that way. Especially at that age--I'm 22 years old when this happened, my brother's only 24--and it's like, whoa. And I'm like, "Why [would this happen] to my mom?," she's such a good person. So, all of this stuff is running through my head.

Sometimes I'm thinking that he was a cop and maybe because he went in this way he didn't go in a worse way. Maybe something bad out there didn't happen to him, something that would have been worse for all of us. I don't know. I always leave open that things happen for a reason, and I don't understand that reason always, but it's something I have to accept. So, it's kind of where I left that situation.

Things Happen for a Reason
But I really believe that God had his hands on me the whole time, and my family as well, and we've come through it and we really probably didn't think we could. I did get some little lessons throughout this thing happening, and I just remember one of the thoughts that was planted in my mind--I think by God--was that "don't let it all go": Don't let everything go, because you're going to make it through this.

"God is my homeboy. Jesus is my homeboy."
Read more >>


_Related Features
  • A Review of "Last Holiday"
  • More Celebrity Interviews
  • Spirituality and Hip-Hop
  • Continued on page 2: »

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