Only a couple of weeks before Queen Latifah makes her return to a daytime talk show, ET caught up with the versatile star to talk about The Queen Latifah Show and get a tour of the brand-new set.
The rapper, comedian, and actress first gave daytime a spin in 1999, hosting a syndicated talk show that lasted for two years. This time, Latifah is teaming up with CBS for a fresh start at the talk-show realm, and explained what is different this time around.
"I think I got a great team around me this time. I learned a lot from the last talk show that I had," Latifah said. "...I wasn't completely ready to just be a talk-show host at that time. I had a lot more acting to do, a lot more touring to do, a lot more singing to do. "
With the majority of her energy focused on the new talk show, Latifah claims she's ready to push the envelope as much as she can—within the confines of daytime television, that is.
"I tend to push the envelope as much as I possibly can, but this is daytime television" said Latifah, who listed Oprah Winfrey, Phil Donahue, Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Ellen DeGeneres as her inspirations. "I'd like to push it as far as I can for it to be daytime. ... We don't have to do anything ridiculous or...salacious for shock value...but I want to make sure that we entertain at the fullest."
Latifah's ability to entertain is endorsed by her longtime friends Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, whose production company, Overbrook Entertainment, is a co-producer of the show alongside Latifah's Flavor Unit.
Pinkett Smith avows that Latifah brings uniqueness to daytime that is missing from the talk-show scene.
"For us, we couldn't think of anyone else that has the broad appeal that she has. Everybody loves Queen Latifah!" said Pinkett Smith, who co-starred with Latifah in the 1996 action-thriller Set It Off. "She's so much fun, but yet she has so much heart. ... There's a lot of talented people [hosting talk shows]...but there's a couple of aspects that are missing that, I think, Latifah does very well."
With prior guests including Denzel Washington, Mary J. Blige, Destiny's Child, Brooke Shields, LL Cool J and Whoopi Goldberg, Latifah is geared up to invite some big-name celebrities on her couch, including Jay-Z, Beyonce, and even U.S. president Barack Obama.
However, her guests won't be exclusively celebrities.
"You don't have to just be famous, a big celebrity, to deserve a spot on my stage," the 43-year-old New Jersey native assured. "If you have something that's really great about you that should be shared with everyone, I want you here. I want you to share it right here."
Check out the video above for a tour of Queen Latifah's new talk-show set, which was designed by none other than Lenny Kravitz.