Queen Latifah Talks FOX’s TV Show Star
By: Lynn Barker
The multi-talented Queen Latifah is a musician, television and film actress, label president, author and entrepreneur. Latifah has had amazing success in Hollywood and became the first hip-hop artist to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006. Now Queen plays Carlotta on the FOX TV series “Star”. She is the surrogate mom to Star (newcomer Jude Demorest), who came up in the foster care system. Star tracks down her sister, Simone (newcomer Brittany O’Grady), and her Instagram bestie, Alexandra (newcomer Ryan Destiny), and the trio journeys to Atlanta with the hope of becoming music superstars.
Carlotta owns an Atlanta beauty salon, has a past in music and has a transgender daughter. In this interview Queen talks about her character, goals for the show, Paris Jackson guesting as an internet social media diva and more!
Q: Everybody wants to know. Paris Jackson (Michael Jackson’s daughter, now 18) came to set (Paris will play an intimidating social media guru, Rachel, who has an impact on the show's lead characters). Did you get to spend time with her? Did you share any scenes with her?
- Queen: No, but I was very, very excited to know that she was doing this role. This is such a fun role. I can’t wait until you all see it. Her character, Rachel, gets to give the business to these girls who think they know it all, who think they’re so smart, so tough, so strong, and they know everything and so determined. But, this character that she plays gets to give them the business and be funny at the same time. It’s so shady.
- I came in the next day after Paris shot, and everyone told me she knocked it out the park. They said she was fantastic. She rocked it. So, I’m glad she chose us to be that first getting her toes wet in acting. I’m glad she chose us and chose “Star” and chose this role. I hope this is the beginning for some great things for her.
Q: What do you like most about your Carlotta character? What part of her really drew you in?
- Queen: I think how much she’s been through and how many mistakes she’s made in life, but how gifted she is at the same time. She’s a character who is extremely flawed, who’s been hurt, who’s made mistakes that have had dramatic consequences on her life and her future. Yet, she still has a huge capacity to love, and she never gives up.
- She still wants to be redeemed in many ways. She’s never all the way there, but she never gives up. She always keeps trying to challenge and grow and change. She may play it real cool and calm sometimes, but she’s always going through a lot underneath.
Q: Is she fun to play?
- Queen: I think she’s much more complicated and much more challenging for me as an actor to play than people might think because there’s so many layers underneath what Carlotta is feeling that I have to find so many angles into her at all times. It’s fun, it’s challenging, and it’s exciting for an actor. I don’t get bored doing it.
Q: One of the fun things about your character Carlotta is she owns a hair salon and changes hair color and style a lot. She wears wigs. Can you talk a little bit about that?
- Queen: Carlotta is not a stereotype. She is someone we know, but the women we know love to spend time on their hair. Hair is very important, particularly in the black community. So, even though she’s busy running a business and has many hairstylists around, wigs are a way of her changing up her look, expressing herself, doing something a little different, and keeping it fresh.
- She does have a lot of expression and difference inside of her that she kind of gets to let out through these wigs. She’s not afraid to take chances on it. It’s also maybe a little advertisement, a little display of what the shop can do and connecting to the community. This is still a way of her feeling special even in the midst of everything going crazy around her.
Q: This show “Star” is set in the music world. Do you personally have a song that you consider your personal theme song?
- Queen: I come from a music world, so I have a million songs that speak to me, but I think it depends on what mood I’m in, but I think Bob Marley is a go-to at all times. I think he’s probably the greatest artist ever because you can always throw Bob Marley on at a party, and there’s always a Bob Marley song that somebody will dance to or connect to. So, if I feel like I need “Every Little Thing Gonna Be All Right,” then that’s fine. If I need “So Much Trouble in the World” to just deal with what’s going on at the time, I have that. So, I think Bob would be my go-to if I were to say what artist is my go-to.
Q: Lots of tweens and teens are dealing with gender issues, theirs or a friend’s etc. Can you talk about having a trans daughter on the show and what you’ve learned or what that’s meant to you?
- Queen: That was also one of the big draws to play Carlotta is the fact that she has a trans daughter. The topic of being trans or having a trans child or becoming trans later in life, is very topical. Everybody doesn’t know the right thing to say. It’s a new experience for a lot of people, and if we could only communicate about it, we could grow to understand each other. We wanted to show the conversation.
- Let’s just start with what Cotton (Carlotta’s daughter) is feeling and going through. Then, let’s deal with Carlotta and what she’s feeling and how can a mother and child build a bridge between each other when they love each other but they’re worlds apart on so many other things. We’re just trying to show what the situation can really be like.
Q: Going off that, in the show Pastor Bobby just found out that Carlotta’s daughter was trans. How is that going to change their relationship going forward?
- Queen: I think what’s interesting about Carlotta and Pastor Bobby is they are both very flawed people who had a very checkered past and found some peace and growth and forgiveness by following Jesus. But, they come with the baggage they come with and they also greatly care for each other. They’re in love, so Pastor Bobby is one of the few sweet spots in Carlotta’s life.
- All of these truths are going to make it a lot more messy. I think she tried to protect that relationship to just hold on to this little piece of Heaven for as long as she could, but now that things are starting to come out, she may be surprised by his response to it. There’s a lot of love there, but the fact that she kept secrets from him is probably what hurts him most.
Q: Heavier question. Politically, we’re in a very, very strange time in the U.S. Is it up to our television shows and movies to actually start to (take on more issues) or are they just for entertainment?
- Queen: I think music and art are one of the greatest ways that have moved the conversation along throughout history. I can’t advise someone to choose a particular side here or there or tell them what their opinion should be but, to me, what’s important is not being afraid to bring up the conversation. Any brave, creative person, (needs to not be) afraid to deal with what’s going on in our actual world so, why would we not want to go for it?
Q: Do you have a message for viewers out there?
- Queen: Everything’s going to work out. Stay positive by just taking a moment to breathe and remind yourself that we make our world. So, we can make it different. We can make it better. I don’t ever want to become a cynic. I always want to encourage people to not be afraid to just create a new future and hopefully a more positive one.
Watch “Star” on FOX TV Wednesday night. Check local listings for time.
Have Your Say
Are you a Queen Latifah fan? Can you relate to wanting a career in show biz? Are you glad that another TV show has a transgender character or not? Start a comment conversation below.