Queen Latifah

Award-winning actress, rapper, entrepreneur and spokesmodel were but a few of the hats Queen Latifah wore as she began her rise as one of entertainment's top renaissance women, starting with her breakout album All Hail the Queen in 1989. The 19-year-old embodied a new spirit in hip-hop and was a pioneer for her empowering messages of positivity, particularly for urban women. Her status as pop culture icon led easily to an acting career, where she followed up a four-year run on the Fox sitcom "Living Single" (Fox, 1993-97) with increasingly visible roles in comedies and dramas, including "Set it Off" (1996) and "The Bone Collector" (1999). She broke through with unanimous critical acclaim for her role as Mama Morton in the lavish big screen adaptation of "Chicago" (2002), earning multiple awards for her powerhouse performance. Audiences loved Latifah in the urban comedies "Bringin' Down the House" (2003) and "Beauty Shop" (2005) even if critics did not, but Latifah was continually surprising audiences with her artistic development. Evolving from rapper MC to sweet jazz crooner, she also delivered terrific performances in subtler films like "Stranger Than Fiction" (2006) and "Last Holiday" (2007) and brought all her talents together for a knock-out performance as Motormouth Maybelle in the big screen musical, "Hairspray" (2007). Consistently demonstrated through her talent, strength and positivity, Queen Latifah entertained and inspired not merely African-Americans or women, but people from all walks of life.