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“We work to make sure everyone’s connected and everything happens,” Latifah says. If we all elevate each other, it keeps going.” Flavor Unit is housed in a prime location on the Sony lot in Culver City, where she and Shakim Compere, her best friend and business partner, oversee 10 employees working on film, TV and music productions.The walls of the office are lined with posters of the movies they’ve produced, from 2004’s “The Cookout” to this year’s “Brotherly Love,” as well as their TV shows, like “Single Ladies.” Latifah says she knew early on that she would have to take control of her career if she wanted to make it on her own, and enlisted her high school friend Compere to help.Queen Latifah is a musician, critically acclaimed television and film actress, label president, author and entrepreneur.Latifah has had amazing success in Hollywood and became the first hip-hop artist to be crowned with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006.
“And once we got started, we weren’t stopping.” Compere credits another incident for further stoking Latifah’s competitive fire.
Shortly after its cancellation, media outlets reported that she paid some staff members out of her own pocket through the holidays. “Look, I was appreciative of how hard everybody worked, and felt we should be proud of what we did.
It was bad timing, holidays were coming, and we wanted to make sure everyone would be OK through the New Year.” But around the same time, a long-in-the works project was finally coming together.
“There are a lot of people reading those magazines not unlike myself, who have some sort of scar, too. Her second, 1991’s “Nature of a Sista,” dropped off a bit. “I felt like if I couldn’t say I was the best rapper — male or female — I wouldn’t put all my eggs in one basket,” she says. The transition from rapper to actor was a logical one in her mind. We have to perform and express different personas for different records,” she says.
I don’t think we should try to make everything look perfect.” Latifah was just 17 when she signed her first record deal and borrowed a cousin’s name to assume her stage identity. “So it was always about trying to expand from the beginning, be it musically, business-wise, or other opportunities.” Will Smith provided her first big acting break, putting her in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” And Spike Lee cast her in “Jungle Fever” — though Latifah suspects she got the role only because first choice Brit rapper Monie Love was pregnant at the time. “So selling it to the camera is a natural progression.” But she was surprised at the resistance she faced. “A lot of them talked a lot of smack (at the time) about rappers coming in and taking all the gigs.” Ever determined to succeed, she enlisted an acting coach to help her prepare for 1996’s “Set It Off,” the surprise hit that would provide her breakthrough role, as the sassy, street-smart member of a quartet of female bank robbers, alongside Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Soon enough, other hip-hop stars began to cross over.