Queen Latifah reveals how she handled being told to lose weight for projects

‘The Equalizer’ star speaks frankly about unfair beauty standards.
October 8, 2021 11:03 a.m. EST
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Singer, rapper, Oscar-nominated actress, and producer Queen Latifah is a quadruple threat and a powerhouse talent, but that hasn’t stopped some people in Hollywood from trying to tear her down.

Speaking frankly with model Hunter McGrady about her journey through the music industry and Hollywood, Queen Latifah, born Dana Owens, revealed that the powers that be tried to make her lose weight for her acting roles – something she pushed back on, and won.

“I have felt that pressure and I've literally been asked to lose weight, through my people the word came," she told Hunter for her All Worthy column in Yahoo Life. "Luckily I have people who are like, 'Yeah, that's not going to happen. She’s not losing weight for you.'"

Some of Queen Latifah’s most notable roles in her career have been the iconic Living Single, where she played the forthright and no-nonsense Khadijaj James, guest-starring appearances on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, her Oscar-nominated turn as Matron Mama Morton in Chicago opposite Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and now the reboot of The Equalizer, where she is the first woman Equalizer in the show’s history.

"It made me angry because I felt like I was fine. I'm what people look like," she continued, addressing the pressure in Hollywood to look a certain way. "You want me to lose weight? Why? So there's a whole bunch of women out there who won't have someone to relate to on TV, is that what you're trying to get at?”

“Honestly, I knew by me standing up, I was actually standing up for some other people."

This revelation comes just as Queen Latifah has joined Novo Nordisk's "It's Bigger Than Me" campaign, which aims to educate the public on issues pertaining to obesity, and alleviate the bias and stigma that comes with it.

In fact, Queen Latifah put her acting chops to good use, starring in a short drama for the campaign, where a patient is dying of bias and stigma, most notably from his loved ones, and Queen Latifah is a doctor trying to save his life while spreading some proper knowledge on the risks of misinformation.

"A lot of it is just that people are misinformed or uninformed," she said about the stigma surrounding obesity. "If they could understand what is really underlying it, including ourselves. Judging ourselves, shaming ourselves, saying we're not good enough, we haven't worked hard enough, we didn't try enough. No, sometimes it's not you, it is your genetics. It is your DNA. It's your body."

Saying that the most important thing right now was for her to feel good on the inside, she reiterated, "Get to know yourself, not just in the mirror, but on the inside. So now you have even more power to make decisions about your own body and how you really feel about it."

Latifah and Hunter also talked about the plus-size modelling industry, where they both questioned the term “plus-size” itself. When Hunter shared her struggles in the modelling industry that focusses not on her talent but on her shape, Latifah quipped, “Girl, you said words that would make me throw this bottle out a window!”

“Plus size? Let’s check the number. First thing- we are the normal size!” Latifah exclaimed.

Recently, Queen Latifah was honoured at the 2021 BET Awards with a Lifetime Achievement Award, where the greatest hits from her discography were performed by a bevvy of talent like Lil' Kim, Rapsody, MC Lyte and Monie Love.

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