The actress/rapper talks about her latest romantic comedy
Normally, when I do these types of interviews, I like to ask about the actor or actress or director about the movie they're promoting. Especially when I like a film, such was the case with Last Holiday. I thought the movie was fun, cute, emotional, extremely laughable, good story, good sub-plots, good acting. All the essentials you need to have a good interview. And I really encourage you to go see this movie!
Unfortunately, with Queen Latifah, the people in the room I was in wanted to focus on what keeps her grounded, how she focuses on herself when she's out of the Hollywood spotlight. They interupted her, jumped in other people's questions, and asked certain things twice just to get the answer they wanted. Well, I'm not like that; I like to be fair to the talent and wait till they're finished their answer. I'm here to bring you guys, the readers, a story on a movie; and maybe a little bit about the person, not the other way around.
In the film, Queen plays Georgia Byrd, a very shy, department store employee. After hitting her head, she is told she has a very rare condition and only has three weeks to live. Instead of telling people, Georgia decided to spend every last penny she has on a dream vacation.
Queen Latifah (or Dana Owens - her real name) did talk about the film, but only for about a minute. The rest of the interview consisted of her discussing how she relaxes on a retreat in Santa Monica. And a little about her next album. Here's what was discussed:
Were you attracted to this because the early scenes were so unlike you?
Queen Latifah: It was cause I am very energetic and outgoing and I have my shy side; don't get me wrong, but I am not, I am not Georgia Byrd. I am more that girl (pointing to a picture of her in a long red dress) than I am this girl (referring to the picture of her with no make-up on), inside sometimes I am this girl but mostly I am that girl.
So when are you that quiet in real life?
Queen Latifah: Maybe sometimes when I am in a situation that I have never been in, I kind of pull back a little bit to observe things; it doesn't really last long though I've have to. I've resigned to myself to the fact that I have to be me.
Do you get shy when you meet someone that you admire for example for the first time?
Queen Latifah: Yeah definitely.
Queen Latifah: Prince, I get shy around Prince like you have no idea. I've met him a few times but he is still Prince to me.
Apparently, Gerard Depardieu was almost trying to seduce you on the set?
Queen Latifah: Yeah, I am sure he wouldn't have minded.
How did you manage to succumb to his charms?
Queen Latifah: I stay pretty strong because we just had fun together; we just had to enjoy each other. Gerard came on set when we had been shooting for a couple of months already and we had been in this town where it probably snowed maybe 3 weeks in a row everyday. He was just a breathe of fresh air in his French ways, his wine drinking and food tasting, smoking a thousand cigarettes and feeling good, and just a robust guy who just enjoys life. He came on our set and just really brought a light to us, a nice little boost that we all needed, it made us feel good everyday.
What would you do with 3 weeks to live?
Queen Latifah: I have no idea. I can only tell you what I think but I don't know and I hope to never know for a long time.
No jumping out of planes or that kind of thing?
Queen Latifah: I might, I might. I always did want to jump out of a plane; actually I've always wanted to skydive so I might try it. I might try to do a couple of things that I have wanted to do maybe go to 1 or 2 places where I've always wanted to go.
Queen Latifah: India or Brazil, China, Africa and hang out with my family. I would probably take a lot of my family members with me, as many as I could afford to, and settle all the business.
This is a movie about a character who has unfulfilled dreams; do you have any unfulfilled dreams?
Queen Latifah: The only thing left is to become a parent. A lot of the dreams that I set out to accomplish, I have accomplished.
That is one that you have to take care of soon right?
Queen Latifah: I am feeling the pressure at times.
How long do you give yourself for motherhood?
Queen Latifah: Maybe 6 months to get it going; I don't know, you never know.
Who is the lucky -
Queen Latifah: Can't say, can't say (laughter).
Is there anything that Georgia is doing that you wish you could have done or that you've done in the past...
Queen Latifah: Well the idea of that has always been fun to me, and I've done that sometimes. There is a place that I've gone here called the Ashram where you go; it is like a boot camp. You kind of hike for 70 miles in a week and you do yoga and swim; it is a place to come and detox. I went there to quit smoking a couple of times. Last time, it was successful but just to detox from Queen Latifah and Hollywood and life. All you can do at the moment is breathe; it kind of takes all the layers of crap away you don't have time to think about, what do I have to do next week and take care of this, that. I can't live like that; I hope to get the things I like to get done if not there is tomorrow. Sometimes, it is good to sort of check out and find you center again and then it just kind of invigorates me to come on out here and just do what I do for another couple of years.
What keeps you grounded, what keeps you aware of the fact that there is more to you than the image that audiences have of you and that the fans have of you?
Queen Latifah: There is a couple of things. One is G-d has always been in my life and his little voice in me that lets me know when I'm falling a little too far left or right, up or down. I know because there is a little voice that starts saying ‘Dana, what are you doing? You need to slow down with that.' So G-d will do this to me in some sort of way or something bad will happen to me. I'll break up with somebody or wind up getting in trouble for something, not too much trouble where I can't be rescued or saved from it, but just enough to let me know that I am here because I was blessed to be in this position that I am, not the only talented person. I was given the parents that I was given, certain friends and we've all been able to find our way here. This is one in a million shot so I always remember that it is not all me and that takes some of the pressure off. Then I have great family and friends that do not treat me like Queen Latifah. We've all grown with this thing, they have sacrificed part of there anonymity; they've had to deal with rumors and things in the paper and they've had to take this ride along with me and they've taken it and we've had a good time. I actually enjoy that I am never really needed to be hanging out with every celebrity in Hollywood; to this day I go home and hang out with my cousins, my best friends. I'm not treated like royalty; they love me to death, but they don't treat me like royalty. So it's easy for me; they'll tell me the truth, whether it hurts or not. And I need that; I've always been given that.
What's going on with your music career?
Queen Latifah: Music? I've been working with some producers with a new album, kind of just writing and experimenting for where it all goes. I'm working with my background singers that I just toured with last summer, and a producer named James Poyser, and Amir from The Roots. Just kind of coming up with some fun stuff, and of course there's some jazz. There's selecting new songs of covers to do that's sort of a Dana Owens 2 album. I've just been enjoying music, just having fun; I haven't been thinking ‘How can I make a million dollars?' which I never really do. But I'm really, really not, I just love it, I love music. I've just been putting studios together, here and at my house in New Jersey and so I can always make music and express my ideas and work with people to fine tune them to where they need to be, so I think by the spring...
How different will it be? Will it show a new side to you?
Queen Latifah: I think it will, I think that's where I've been moving to for a long time. I kind of hit a wall for a minute where I felt I wasn't doing ‘me,' and was making music for whatever that time and because of the pressures I might have been receiving. Everybody wanted something else, but I just can't live like that; that was at the end of the 90's. But since then, I've been doing jazz, and I can do that in my sleep. I love the Dana Owens album, I love the classics we selected, the songs we chose were ones that I really loved and I felt that I could really sing. I definitely want to more of that.
Do you feel different than how you were two years ago, focusing on music and movies?
Queen Latifah: I still do; I think I'm a little bit. I'm thinking wanting to succeed is something in my DNA; I'm not like ‘I've got to succeed,' I just don't think about that. The Oscar thing with Chicago, I didn't feel like ‘If I don't win this Oscar, it's over.' I'm not that person; I see a silver lining in everything and I see a lesson in everything. So for me, I'm just trying to grow and learn and hope that I just continue to be myself and that myself is what people want, not some idea of who people want me to be. I just continue to try and build on that.
Last Holiday opens in theaters January 13th; it's rated PG-13. It also stars LL Cool J, and of course, Gerard Depardieu.