Queen Latifah Says Late Mom Rita Owens Laughed at Her Stage Name: 'I Ain't Calling You Queen'
Latifah, who was born Dana Elaine Owens, sits down with Cynthia McFadden for the journalist’s new NBC Nightly News segment Her Take with Cynthia McFadden to discuss her career, including her stage name and how her late mom reacted.
The rapper and actress, 49, found the Latifah name from a book of Arabic names when she was 8 and decided to combine it with Queen.
“My mother kinda laughed. She was like, ‘Queen? I ain’t calling you Queen,’ ” Latifah recalled.
Latifah tells McFadden that she liked the name, which means delicate and very kind in Arabic, because it shows off the juxtapositions in her personality between the boldness of Queen and the warmth of Latifah.
“That’s the story of my life,” Latifah explains. “I think that’s the wonderful thing about a woman. We can be strong but then we can be soft and kind and sensitive.”
Latifah’s mother died at 69 in March 2018, years after the entertainer had taken her mother in to serve as her primary caregiver. Latifah revealed the sad news in a statement to PEOPLE.
“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news my mother, Rita Owens passed away today,” Latifah wrote. “Anyone that has ever met her knows what a bright light she was on this earth. She was gentle, but strong, sweet, but sassy, worldly but pragmatic, a woman of great faith and certainly the love of my life.”
The segment airs on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt at 6:30pm ET/5:30pm CT tonight.