In 1996, after establishing her reign over hip-hop, Queen
Latifah set her sights on Hollywood, appearing in her first feature film, Set It Off
, an all-female bank heist co-starring
Jada Pinkett-Smith and Vivica A. Fox.
ET was on set to talk to the rapper-turned-actress -- just look
at those cornrows!! -- about striking a balance between her already successful
music career and growing acting resume, which included three seasons of Living Single
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“I don't ever think I'll have to choose between music and
acting,” Latifah said at the time. “I mean, I won't choose between music and
acting. They're two different things that satisfy me in two different ways.
They satisfy my creative soul.”
It was a bold promise for the then-26-year-old and one that
she didn’t initially keep. It would be five years before the rapper followed up
the 1993 album, Black Reign
, with new
music. In 1998, she not only released Order
in the Court
, but also returned to the big screen with roles in Living Out Loud
Then, in 2002, Hollywood took notice when Latifah combined
both her talents for the Oscar-nominated role of Matron “Mama” Morton in Chicago
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A decade later, following three albums and several hit
roles, Latifah is doing it again with the HBO film, Bessie
, about the life and struggles of the legendary blues singer.
This, which took over two decades to get off the ground, is Latifah’s most raw
“If I can't put my thing on it like I've done some
extraordinary work at some point in it then I haven't been fulfilled,” she said
back on set of the 1996 film. With Bessie
-- and the work in between -- there's plenty for Latifah to feel proud of.
Watch as Latifah discusses going nude for the HBO film,
which pushed the 45-year-old the furthest we’ve seen her on screen: