They don’t call her the queen for nothing. Last week, Queen Latifah was honored at Variety’s Power of Women event, presented by Lifetime for her esteemed career in entertainment. The multi-hyphenate has been in the industry for over 30 years and has touched just about every facet from music to TV to film. Throughout her career, she has always praised women and often spoke about women empowerment in her music such as her Grammy award-winning song “U.N.I.T.Y” and her speech at the Power of Women event was no different.
“This issue of Variety is celebrating the power of women, and it’s a strange time for us,” she said. “There’s a group of people who are trying to steal our power. Our power to decide what we want for our lives, our families, our future. My whole life, people have been trying to diminish my power. They’ve always tried to diminish the power of the woman. It’s like what I tell my friends who don’t want to vote sometimes. If the vote wasn’t worth something, they wouldn’t be trying to keep us from voting. I feel the same way about womanhood. If we weren’t so powerful, there wouldn’t be such a push to keep us in our place.”
“I know what it looks like when women don’t get along. When we fight against each other. But I also know what it looks like when we do,” she said. “When we stand together, there’s nothing more potent. There’s nothing stronger. There’s no level higher, nothing greater, than when we lock arms and decide we want to do something.”
She added, “I pray for this planet. I pray for peace every night. Let’s spread that love around the world.”
The Variety event not only celebrated women in entertainment but also women in philanthropy. TheEqualizer star’s non-profit of choice was Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, which is a tuition-free public charter school located in Detroit. She spoke about her decision to work with the school, which is named after and owned by NBA star and sports commentator Jalen Rose, in her cover story for Variety. “I’m just very inspired by people, by kids and their innocence and their eyes on the world, that they can conquer and they can do anything,” she said.
Queen is also giving back to her community. She recently broke ground on an affordable housing project in her hometown of Newark, NJ. The project, RISE Living, is named after her mother Rita Owens who passed away a few years ago. RISE is an acronym that stands for “Rita Is Still Everywhere.”
“I’m proud to be from here,” she said, “I grew up around here playing in West Side Park, a block away. My grandfather’s hardware store was blocks from here. I drove past this block. I saw what was needed on this block, houses that weren’t lived in. Some were really dilapidated, and so I thought, ‘Why not here?’”
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Featured image by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Variety