Her stage name, Latifah (meaning "delicate" and "very kind" in Arabic,) was given to her by her cousin when she was eight. At 5'10" tall, Latifah was a power forward on her high school basketball team.
Born and raised as Dana Elaine Owens in Newark, and East Orange New Jersey, Queen Latifah has earned a Golden Globe award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Image Awards, a Grammy Award, six additional Grammy nominations, an Emmy Award nomination and an Academy Award nomination.
Latifah first started beatboxing for the rap group Ladies Fresh. Latifah was one of the members of the Flavor Unit around producer DJ Mark the 45 King. They made a demo recording of Queen Latifah's rap "Princess of the Posse." He gave the recording to the host of Yo! MTV Raps Fab 5 Freddy. The song got the attention of Tommy Boy Music who signed Latifah.
In 1988 they issued her first single, "Wrath of My Madness" and her first album All Hail the Queen in 1989, when she was nineteen. In 1998, she released her hip-hop album Order in the Court.
On July 11, 2007, Latifah sang at the famed Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles as the headlining act in a live jazz concert backed by a 10-piece live orchestra and three backup vocalists, The Queen Latifah Orchestra. Later that year, Latifah released an album entitled Trav'lin' Light. It was nominated for a Grammy in the "Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album" category.
In 2009, Latifah, along with the Jubilation Choir, recorded the title track on the album Oh Happy Day: An All-Star Music Celebration, covering the song the Edwin Hawkins Singers made popular in 1969.
In 2008, Latifah released a hip-hop album with the song "Cue the Rain" as the album's lead single. The album also features a duet with Missy Elliott.
From 1993-1998, Latifah had a starring role on the TV sitcom Living Single, and also wrote and performed its theme music. She began her film career in supporting roles in the 1991 and 1992 films House Party 2, Juice and Jungle Fever. She had her own talk show, The Queen Latifah Show, from 1999 to 2001.
In the early 1990s, she also had recurring roles during the second season of the NBC hit The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She also played the role of Thelma in the 1999 movie The Bone Collector, alongside Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie.
Latifah gained mainstream success after being cast as Matron "Mama" Morton in the Oscar-winning film adaptation of the musical Chicago, the recipient of the Best Picture Oscar, with Latifah receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role. She lost to co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones.
In 2003, she starred with Steve Martin in the film Bringing Down the House. She also recorded a song "Do Your Thing" for the soundtrack.