Speaking in a panel, Queen Latifah shared her thoughts on the need for diversity in advertising and entertainment. The rapper discussed the many hurdles that she faced as a woman after breaking into the music industry. She described how as a female in the industry you have to fight for everything you need to succeed. This is because, as she put it, “you are not getting the same marketing dollars as your male counterparts in the same business” – after signing a deal with a recording company.
Such experiences encouraged Latifah to push for greater inclusion in the industry.
Latifah is a multifaceted entertainer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. The “Ladies First” star has been pushing for inclusivity and diversity in the entertainment industry ever since she burst onto the scene with her highly successful debut album, “All Hail The Queen” – which was released back in 1989.
The hip-hop veteran has always used her platform to empower and uplift women in the entertainment world. On top of being the first female rapper to win a Grammy, she also paved the way for women in the rap game to transition to movies and television.
Since then, the “U.N.I.T.Y.” hitmaker has never looked back, moving from one milestone to the next, opening doors for others and pushing for greater inclusivity in the entertainment industry.
Queen Latifah’s Diversity Initiatives
The established entertainer uses a variety of initiatives to advocate for diversity in Hollywood, including:
Partnership With Essence Creators and Makers Fund
To help content makers and creators of color overcome the financing, production, and development hurdles they face, Essence Ventures availed a $20 million fund back in 2018. The project was in partnership with Flavor Unit Entertainment – which is associated with Latifah.
During the launch of the initiative, the veteran hip-hop star stated, “Essence has always celebrated our culture and was there when it was hard to find stories and images for people who look like me.” On top of financing, the Essence platform would be used to promote projects funded by the initiative.
The Queen Collective
This program (which was created in 2019) is designed to help get more women and non-binary people of color behind the camera as directors. To provide the support that these directors require – like supporting film production, providing distribution opportunities, and mentorship – Latifah partnered with Proctor & Gamble and Tribeca Studios in this initiative.
Speaking to Variety, Latifah explained the reasoning behind the program. The veteran actress stated, “Directors are decision-makers, who build their crews and their talent rosters.” She continued by saying that by growing the number of female and non-binary filmmakers, “they will open up the opportunities and people will go on to be successful.”
In 2023, Latifah and the Queen Collective joined hands with Vital Voices in a new initiative meant to bring more female directors to the forefront of its storytelling efforts. The program, which is referred to as DirectHers Cut is the latest move by Vital Voices to harness the talents of female filmmakers.