WCW: Queen Latifah


Dana Elaine Owens aka Queen Latifah started her professional life in rap and hip-hop, often taking a feminist point of view in her song lyrics. Her breakout acting role was as a magazine editor in the popular ’90s sitcom Living Single, and she followed that up with movie work, including a few notable frock flicks. She has amazing range as an actor, doing hilarious comedy and poignant drama, plus fantastic musicals with singing and dancing. I’ve enjoyed everything she’s been in and want to see more!



Sulie in Hoodlum (1997)

Queen Latifah - Hoodlum (1997)

Haven’t seen this 1930s gangster flick, but I think that’s Queen Latifah with her head down. Nice period print dresses!


Diana in Mama Flora’s Family (1998)

Queen Latifah, Mama Flora's Family (1998)

This TV miniseries spans the 1910s to the 1970s, so I’m guessing she shows up towards the end.


Matron Mama Morton in Chicago (2002)


When you’re good to mama, indeed! Queen Latifah has a standout part in this musical — so much so that she was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

Queen Latifah, Chicago (2002)

OK, so this isn’t a very 1920s gown, but she looks STUN-NING.


Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray (2007)

Queen Latifah, Hairspray (2007)

I adore this movie & musical in every form, & Queen Latifah as Maybelle is perfect.

Queen Latifah, Hairspray (2007)

Ostensibly set in 1962, this movie version has costumes that range a bit all over the late ’50s up to the end of the ’60s. But dayum, she looks good in all of it!

Queen Latifah, Hairspray (2007)

LOVE all the different wigs!

Queen Latifah, Hairspray (2007)

Hairspray also has a desegregation message underneath the song & dance.


August Boatwright in The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

Queen Latifah, The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

A low-key flick set in the segregated south of 1964.

Queen Latifah, The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

The story is seen through Dakota Fanning’s character’s eyes, but Queen Latifah’s character is the strongest & most fully fleshed out.

Queen Latifah, The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

And the relationship between these three sisters is lovely.


Gwen Ifill in Saturday Night Live (2008)

Queen Latifah, Saturday Night Live (2008)

OK, not historical, but hysterical! I loved Gwen Ifill on NPR, so I really enjoyed watching Queen Latifah as the “moderator” in this parody of the VP debate between then-Senator Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.


Bessie Smith in Bessie (2015)

Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith.

Telling blues singer Bessie Smith’s life story was a passion project for Queen Latifah, who helped HBO to bring it to the screen an executive producer.

Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith.

Bessie won the Emmy for Outstanding Television Movie, & Queen Latifah was nominated for the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie Emmy.

Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith.

This TV movie is still available for streaming on HBO Max & worth checking out!


Hattie McDanie in Hollywood (2020)

Queen Latifah, Hollywood (2020)

This Netflix miniseries is set post-World War II, & Queen Latifah plays a fictionalized version of actor Hattie McDaniel (best-known for playing “Mammy” in Gone With the Wind).

Queen Latifah, Hollywood (2020)

This look is reminiscent of McDaniels at the 1940 Oscars, where a columnist described her “hair trimmed with gardenias, face alight, and dress up to the queen’s taste.”



What’s your favorite frock flick role of Queen Latifah’s?


About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

21 Responses

  1. wasabi poptart

    I say, without any exaggeration or hyperbole, that Queen Latifah singing “When You’re Good to Mama,” was (and still is) the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.

  2. Jillian

    Jennifer Hudson isn’t one of the Boatwright sisters in The Secret Life of Bees, she plays Rosaleen Daise. The third sister is played by Sophie Okonedo.

    • Elise

      Is it she? I will check out this movie, as Okonedo was thrilling in The Hollow Crown! Both she and Queen Latifah have such presence.

  3. NuitsdeYoung

    The “When You’re Good to Mama” dress has more of a 1910s look to it, but it’s gorgeous! And when we saw her in it, my late father (great Blues fan)’s comment was, “Very Bessie Smith!” and thought she would be terrific as Bessie! I didn’t realise she has played her!

    • Susan Pola Staples

      She’s amazeballs. I still need to see Bessie, but my favourites are Chicago’s Matron Mama Morton and Motorola Mabel in Hairspray. She’s an actress that goes from strength to strength and I wish Hattie McDaniels in Hollywood had more screen time. Better yet a miniseries ir movie on her.

    • Ms. Heather Ripley

      True NuitsdeYoung, her dress does remind me a bit of Mae West style.
      Chicago is probably my favorite QL film too and now that I have read this post I have a whole slew of new films to check out with her in them. Thank you again FF!

  4. LydiaR

    Her music is in a genre that doesn’t speak to me, but I have adored her in every role I’ve seen her in. I admire her as an actress and a human being.

  5. susan l eiffert

    Also adore When you’re good to Mamma. I wish there was more of it though, it’s so fab. Actually I adore the Queen all around. Even in inferior movies, she is worth seeing. Such personality.

  6. Jenno

    It’s not a frock flick, but her rom-com “Just Wright” that she starred in with Common is one of my poppy-fields movies (the ones where you’re scrolling through the channel guide looking for anything remotely interesting, and when you see it you click on it and watch it to the end, no matter how many times you’ve already seen it).

  7. LadySlippers

    Queen Latifah was amazing in Bessie. And the he costumes are just as fantastic. So while I’ve definitely liked/loved her in other productions, Bessie is hands down my favorite. Her versatility is always a treat to see.

  8. Lily Lotus Rose

    I’ve LOVED Queen Latifah ever since her hip hop debut in the late 80s (?). Even as a very young proto-feminist, I totally resonated with her battle against misogyny in hip hop with “Who you callin’ a bitch?” in U.N.I.T.Y. She is always, always a treat–as someone else said even if she’s in a not-stellar project. As for Frock Flicks, my fave is Chicago, although I have a lot more to see on this list. Non-Frock Flick: I just watched the first episode of her brand-new re-booted version of The Equalizer and it was….awesome!!! Long live the Queen!!

  9. M.E. Lawrence

    Those double-takes she did as Ifill! Speaking of Gwen Ifill, there’s a woman who deserves a movie, or at least an “American Masters” program.

    • Lily Lotus Rose

      I second that idea, M.E.Lawrence! Gwen Ifill’s calm demeanor and integrity have been sorely missed in the media landscape and in American civil discourse. PBS news coverage continues to be excellent, but it just isn’t the same without her.

  10. SarahV

    I love love love Hairspray. Even John Travolta’s weird facial prosthetics. There’s a little flourish in the lovely duet between Christopher Walken and John Travolta when Christopher does this thing with his hand over his head that makes me swoon every time.

    Plus the way that talented actress who plays Ines Stubbs works the handrails on the schoolbus. Magic.

  11. misat0

    I love Queen Latifah, but, I’m sorry, the only Hairspray is the John Waters’ Hairspray,