Queen Latifah on ‘The Equalizer’ Season 3, Netflix Movies and More

Queen Latifah has thrived in the entertainment industry – from music to film and television to the beauty industry and beyond – for over 30 years. But the Grammy and Emmy winner and Oscar nominee doesn’t take time to reflect on her successes.

“I always look forward to the next thing,” Latifah says. “I’m not really resting on my laurels. I rarely stop to say, ‘Oh fuck, you did that; you were the first to get it. I only realize this when people introduce me for something. And I’m like, ‘Gosh, how long is this intro?’ »

This afternoon, however, it’s not about accolades; instead, she drives into town to run errands. She just wrapped Season 2 of “The Equalizer,” the CBS reboot in which she plays vigilante Robyn McCall. But as the show’s executive producer (under her Flavor Unit Entertainment banner), she has a lot of work to do before heading off on an annual vacation to an undisclosed beach. The entertainer has been known to take a month off in the summer to recharge and live some of that life a superstar salary can pay for, but her busy schedule often doesn’t allow it.

Jill Greenberg for variety

“You have to keep an eye on the prize, but I’m definitely trying to take this month off, and more if I can get it,” says Latifah. “I have to fight for it, because everyone wants me to work and they always try to book things. I’m very lucky to be in this position, but at the same time, I know it’s going to cost me dearly.

The to-do list is almost as overwhelming as those “20-minute intros” that often prelude his public appearances.

The day before this interview, she was up late to streamline her studio, cutting down on equipment so he could travel with her. Playing or listening to music is his favorite way to relax. “I can work 14 hours a day, and I can go to the studio afterwards, and that will be my peace,” she says. “I just have to make sure I can do the things that bring me peace while I’m doing all this work.”

In the studio, Latifah enjoys experimenting with different styles of music, voices and characters. Some songs are about love; others on the state of the world.

“I’m such an interesting brain,” she laughs, describing her songwriting process. “I’m more of a ‘persona’. You see Queen Latifah like you see Queen Latifah, but in my mind, I can be whoever I want. Asked to define her current persona: ‘Win!’ she exclaims .

“I have to say I’m very, very blessed,” she continues, pausing to take stock of all that’s to come and is to come. “I am in a blessed place. The family is fine. I’m well. Work is going fine. I have nothing to reproach myself.

So Latifah has learned to be really deliberate about what she says “yes” to. “There’s always something simmering, but I’m still working on my ‘no’s,” she notes with a knowing laugh. Even that Variety The interview required some special attention, but she ultimately got attention because she aligns with one of her most important values: celebrating women.

“It’s important. We’re not often celebrated and affirmed like we should be,” she explains. “We need to not only be affirmed, but support each other and show that we support each other each other.”

Empowering others – especially women – has been Latifah’s hallmark since she burst onto the scene in the late 1980s with her debut album, “All Hail the Queen.” Revered as the first lady of hip-hop, she has quickly established herself as an enduring force and the year ahead is marked by a few defining moments.

Latifah’s hit TV series “Living Single” will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2023. Latifah played urban lifestyle magazine entrepreneur Khadijah James for five seasons, in a storyline that reflected her and business partner Shakim Compere launching Flavor Unit in his mid-twenties. The show found a new audience via cable and streaming, further cementing its legacy as one of the most influential shows of the 90s.

“’Living Single’ spoke to our generation. It showed the restlessness we had, the desire to succeed and the entrepreneurial spirit,” she says. “It showed that hip-hop was validated, not as a passing fad, but as an actual culture that involves many facets.”

Likewise, this December marks the 20th anniversary of her Oscar-nominated performance as Mama Morton in “Chicago.” While sitting at the Dolby Theater as a supporting actress nominee, she cemented her status as a movie star, thanks to the No. 1 movie opening in the country this weekend with “Bringing Down.” the House”.

“What was exciting was the power that just got nominated for an Oscar,” Latifah says. “The power wasn’t about becoming an actor to go and make more movies. It was about producing movies. It was now about being able to control movies. That’s why you saw ‘Just Wright’, ‘Beauty Shop” and all the movies we’ve been able to do.”

Now, Latifah is focusing on a potential third season of “The Equalizer.” “[We’re] digest what worked and what didn’t because we have serious fans who love the show,” she says. “We want to make sure we keep them and build on that audience.”

Her top priority is satisfying one of the show’s most avid viewers, her grandmother, NaNa: “I’m still hard at work making sure she’ll be right in front of that TV watching every Sunday. “

Another “Equalizer” superfan is her “Joyful Noise” co-star Dolly Parton. “Dolly literally wrote me a letter like, ‘You’re a badass on this show!'” Latifah says. “I might have to call and ask her if she wants to be sure.”

Latifah continues to make an impact with ‘The Equalizer’, which isn’t shy about tackling tough topics, such as racism, sexual harassment and excessive use of force by police.

“We represent people who really need justice,” she said. “They need to see their stories told, and they need to see the good guys win – and in this case, the good girl.”

After ‘The Equalizer’, Latifah is releasing two films on Netflix – ‘Hustle’ starring Adam Sandler and her first thriller, ‘End of the Road’. Latifah says signing on to ‘Hustle,’ which follows a basketball scout (Sandler) who tries his luck with a streetball player, was a ‘no-brainer’ – and not just because she’s always had a crush on his main man. (“Come on, who doesn’t?” she asks.) Latifah and Sandler have known each other for years, and when she filmed her eponymous talk show from 2013 to 2015, her production company Happy Madison also took up residence on the Sony field, where Sandler and Latifah’s longtime business partner, Shakim Compere, would play basketball together.

“He’s the nicest person in the world. He’s so adorable,” she says of Sandler. “His family is cool. He rides with his crew, who I love, who look like me. You ride with the same people and you are able to do some really cool stuff over and over again with your friends.

In “End of the Road”, she plays Brenda, a woman who has lost her husband and her job and decides to start over in her hometown of Houston. But as she leaves with her two children and her brother (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), the family road trip goes horribly wrong. The animated film “The 13 1/2 lives of Captain Bluebear” is also in the works, based on a children’s book that Latifah brought to the streamer. She has teamed up with Lisa Henson of the Henson Company for the project, which will be directed by David P. Smith (“Trolls 2: World Tour”).

As much as Latifah enjoyed diversifying her filmography into new genres, she would also be open to revisiting her romantic comedy career. There have long been talks of possibly making a sequel to 2010’s “Just Wright” with Common, though the two multi-hyphenates “will probably be 80 when we make the movie again” thanks to their busy schedules.

“I love doing romantic comedies; They’re fun and cute and I enjoyed them,” she says, adding, “’Last Holiday’ is one of my favorite movies out of all the movies I’ve made for so many reasons. It reminded me to live life to the fullest.

The one film that has yet to be made, however, is the Dana Owens story, and Latifah has some interest in working on that personal project very soon.

“Actually, I have things I’m up to,” she said slyly. “But when you come back to this intro, this 20-minute intro to Queen Latifah, I have to cut some of it off. [into different projects]. There are so many stories to tell.

Behind the scenes, Latifah directs the fourth installment of her Queen Collective filmmaking program with P&G and Tribeca Studios; and plans to narrate the Audible series “Unity in the Community” as part of Flavor Unit’s deal with the company, which is also based in its hometown of Newark, NJ, where it broke ground on a housing development project. millions of dollars last week.

She also supports Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a free charter, open-enrollment public high school in northwest Detroit. Of her desire to give back to the community, Latifah says, “I’m just very inspired by people, by children and their innocence and their eyes on the world, that they can conquer and they can do anything. .

Styling: Jason Rembert; Makeup: Sam Fine/Basic White Shirt LTD; Hair: Iasia Merriweather; Manicure: Eri Ishizu/Opus Beauty
@erierinanailz; Dark Blue Dress (Cover): Dress: Christian Siriano; Earrings: Chopard; Hat Image: Costume: Dior; Hat: Sergio Hudson; Jewelry; Helen Yarmak

Alfonso E. Cramer