Queen Latifah: Queen of the choir

Queen Latifah

Even Queen Latifah gets star-struck sometimes. Take her thoughts on sharing the screen with Dolly Parton in their new movie-musical, “Joyful Noise.”

“I still sometimes have to really stop and pinch myself and say, ‘That’s Dolly Parton! I know her!’”
Latifah, 41, stars in the film as Vi Rose Hill, a choir director who isn’t eager to slip some modern touches into her singers’ traditional songs and performance style. For the acting, singing and rapping triple threat, the role resonated.

“My aunt was a choir director [and] my mom directs the choir at my little church in Jersey,” she says.
“I’ve just grown up going to church and to me, the music connected with me more as a little kid than the preaching did. It was important that I show up for this film because I felt like I was representing so many of my family members, and just this whole idea of a gospel choir trying to make it through their battles. It was a story that I hadn’t really seen told in this way and I wanted to be part of making it happen. And then I found out Dolly was down with the project — I was just over the moon about it.”

Latifah knows the pressures of a make-it-or-break-it performance, the kind her character’s choir has in the film. She had a similar experience with one of her first shows.

“Probably the first real at-stake performance for me was at the Apollo Theater,” she says. “If you didn’t rock it you got booed off the stage and that’s a lot of pressure — the thought of getting booed and everybody in New York City knowing what happened. I remember  the turntables went dead for a second so I had to freestyle and I just started rocking, and thank God I made it through.”

“Joyful Noise” gives Latifah the opportunity to combine her loves for acting and singing, and she says for her, the two go hand in hand.

“When I was taking acting lessons, there were books I was reading — you know, ‘You could think about this if you had to cry.’ [But] I could just throw a song on my iPod that moves me. It gets me there. I don’t have to go into who died in my family or ‘What if I never have children?’ It could be just a few notes and I’m there. Music has had a profound effect on my acting.”

On-screen music

With acting and singing coexisting across platforms today, we wanted to see if Latifah thinks musicals are having a moment.
   
“The return of the musical and the return of dancing has really helped everything,” she says. “You have shows like ‘Glee,’ ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ bringing all those elements of performing — acting, singing, dancing — together again and making it a lot easier for it to all sprout so that people get to show their gifts in different ways.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Pennsylvania police shooter manhunt near home of suspect's…

A police manhunt intensified on Friday for the gunman who killed an officer and wounded another in an ambush at a Pennsylvania police barracks a week ago.

Local

MAP: New York City street closures, September 19,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on September 19, 20 and 21. There will be many streets and…

Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Television

'Outlander' Season 1, Episode 7: 'The Wedding'

Claire and Jamie are man and wife!!! Like, ALL THE WAY, if you know what we mean. (Twice.)

Movies

Kevin Smith makes peace with the Internet

I was thinking about Ain't It Cool News and Harry Knowles last night, wondering if anyone from Ain't It Cool had reviewed my new movie…

Movies

Art imitates life in 'Swim Little Fish Swim'

There's a certain comfort to be taken in finding that young artists are still moving to New York and trying to make it — and…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

NFL

Oday Aboushi ready for increased role, and to…

Oday Aboushi might feel comfortable enough to engage in some trash talk the next time he is on the field.

NFL

Giants vs. Texans: 3 things to watch

The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.

NFL

Eric Decker misses practice again, could miss Monday

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker missed practice Thursday as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.

MLB

Derek Jeter still focused on baseball as final…

Derek Jeter has effectively hid his emotions for 20 years in the Bronx.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…