'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

 

Continued from page 1

People would say to me, "Sorry about your brother, can I have your autograph?" And I would feel like, you don't care about me, you don't care about my brother, all you care about is your stinking autograph. You don't care about Queen Latifah, she's not a human to you. It really bummed me out, and I almost left, stopped doing this thing.



But then there were other people who were extremely supportive, like Patti Labelle, who had lost a couple of her sisters, and Heavy D, who had lost a couple of his brothers, and friends and my family and people who just kind of showed me another perspective, and a lot of other people who didn't know who I was but just cared. So, the balance started to swing back and woke me up again, so I hung around.



After the death of your brother, you started the Lancelot H. Owens Scholarship Fund. Like Georgia in the movie, did you realize there's something good coming out of it after your "Why, me?" moment?



A lot of good things happened to me after that, which almost made me wonder why. I'd be happy about them, but then I'd be totally depressed, I was sad, I was like, well, the whole point of this is being able to share it with him and he's not here for me to share it with, and that made me sad sometimes. But there were other people that were helped, and just like the scholarship foundation was born and helped so many people, who help so many other people by mentoring and passing it on, something hugely positive has come from this.

I think Georgia Byrd was inspired or kind of forced to just go live, to make a decision to either lay down and die right there or just pick up and live all of the dreams and desires that she's had all this time, but she's held back for one reason or another, mostly fear and worry. And so she inspired me to live better. You don't realize sometimes when you play these characters that they're going to impact your life like they do. It's like reading another person's life, living in another person's shoes for a few months. By living in Georgia Byrd's shoes, it just made me realize how important life is, how short time is, how important it is to follow your dreams and your goals. That's part of who you are and you take away from it by not doing it. Look at all the things she was able to do. She was so nervous before.

Georgia speaks to God a lot in the film, just in a conversational manner. Do you speak to God on a regular basis or do you have a favorite prayer or mantra that you carry with you?

Speaking to
God
I usually say the Our Father, and that's my old faithful prayer. Then I learned the prayer of Jabez, which is cool, too. Most of the time I just talk. I just thank God first for everything. And then we just talk about whatever's on my mind or whatever I'm thinking about. Sometimes I pray when I really feel like I need God to help me with something, and sometimes we just have conversations. We just kick it. God is my homeboy. Jesus is my homeboy. My mom would always crack up at me. I'm glad someone finally put it on a t-shirt, `cause I used to say that all the time. I'm like, "Ma, Jesus is a gangsta." Think about it, when he's ready to preach, he gathered up a crew. Now, 12 dudes walking around sound like a gang to me. But it was just a gang for God, a gang for Jesus, which is all good. Of course he can relate to the poor.

"Just try to find simple pleasures and get ready to get on up out of here."
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_Related Features
  • A Review of "Last Holiday"
  • More Celebrity Interviews
  • Spirituality and Hip-Hop
  • Continued on page 3: »

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