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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Queen Latifah Interview
Aired July 9, 2010 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Tonight, Queen Latifah, like you've never seen her.
QUEEN LATIFAH, MOVIE STAR: Where's the camera? Come close.
KING: The music and movie superstar confronts ageing in Hollywood.
LATIFAH: It's good, Larry.
KING: The wake-up call that saved her.
LATIFAH: Using alcohol to numb whatever emotions I was dealing with.
KING: And why her personal life is nobody's business.
LATIFAH: Don't go there, Larry.
KING: I'm not.
She's a role model who's real.
LATIFAH: I enjoy just being me. I don't need to be Queen Latifah, the brand, 24 hours a day.
KING: Queen Latifah for the hour is next on LARRY KING LIVE.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING (on-camera): Queen Latifah, Grammy winner, Oscar nominated actress, entrepreneur, philanthropist, great talent and author of a new book "Put on Your Crown: Life-Changing Moments on the Path To Queendom." She's with us for the full hour. It's always great to see her. Tell me about this title. What do we mean by "put on your crown"?
LATIFAH: First of all, thank you for having me here, Larry.
KING: You're welcome, darling.
LATIFAH: I feel like every woman is a queen, and we should be treated as such, and we should, you know, sort of request that sort of treatment from others. So, putting on your crown is really like accepting the fact that you are a queen. You're a great woman. Wherever you are in life, just keep on that path, and so for me, sometimes as women, we forget -- we forget that about ourselves. So, putting on your crown is sort of reminding yourself that, hey, I'm a queen, and I can do what I want in this life and take it, you know --
KING: This is a how-to book?
LATIFAH: It's actually more of a conversation. Just a conversation that I'm having with the readers, sharing some of my experiences and how I, you know, went through certain life-changing moments. Whether they were positive or negative, and how I responded to those situations and just continue to move on through life.
KING: Written any particular age group?
LATIFAH: No. I think it's for maybe teenage girls through 65- year-old women, you know. I mean, because it's about those moments, and I'm 40 at this point. So, I'm sort of in the middle. I find that we need inspiration all through life, and self-esteem is something that you don't just get a self-esteem card that lasts for the rest of your life. Sometimes, you have to be reminded and maintain that high self-esteem to do things that really encourage you to be in a positive place and surround yourself with positive people and that kind of thing, so --
KING: You write that Sinatra's "I'm Going to Live Until I Die" great song. A lot of people recorded it.
KING: It's your anthem, right?
LATIFAH: It is, you know. I mean, to me, life is for the living, you know. It's about living every moment to the full, as best you can.
KING: That's hard though, isn't it?
LATIFAH: It is hard sometimes, but to me, it's a goal. It's a goal, if you will. I try to keep it in mind, in, you know, whatever I do, I'll try to make sure I have a good time doing it, that I enjoy it, and that I get every full moment out of everything that I do.
KING: You right, frankly, in the book about being molested as a child.
KING: That had to change your -- how old were you?
KING: That doesn't leave you, though, does it?
LATIFAH: No, it doesn't. It doesn't.
KING: So, do you use -- how do you apply it? Being a queen one day?
LATIFAH: I mean, luckily, my parents really just raised me to be that way, and they didn't know. And it took me to lose my brother to actually tell my parents what had happened to me because once I lost my brother Lance, it was --
KING: How old was he?
LATIFAH: He was 24 at the time. I was 22.
KING: What happened (ph)?
LATIFAH: Motorcycle accident. We rode motorcycles. Yes, he had a motorcycle accident. But after that, we were very, very close. So after that happened, I just couldn't hold it anymore, and I told my mom, and she was devastated, because --
KING: Did they know the party?
KING: That's more devastated.
LATIFAH: And I was scared to tell my father, because I'm like, my father's going to kill him, you know, and I'm like, I don't want to do that, but I had to. I had to, you know, let them know what I gone through, so that they could understand maybe more of my mindset, and freed myself of that burden, you know. It's enough, carrying it for too long.
KING: You also write about being broke at one point.
KING: You were broke, broke? I mean, that's like --
LATIFAH: Maybe not quite broke, broke.
KING: How close to being broke, broke?
LATIFAH: Well, what had happened was, I had over invested in my company, and just poured money into it, and really didn't pay attention to what was coming in and going out. I was relying on other people to take care of things for me. I wasn't signing my own checks. I was doing the work, but I wasn't paying attention to the dollars and how they were flowing in and out from my personal expenses to my company expenses, and you know, we just were investing in this dream.
I mean, we were, you know, -- these kids who had all of these ideas and all of this ability, this drive, determination, able to create things and make things happen, but, you know, we never went to business school. So, like, certain things that we just didn't do right, and I wound (ph) up with a big tax bill that was due, and I had paid all of these bills for all of these things and I didn't have the money to cover it. So, I was kind of broke. And -- just talk to my accountant and figured out, obviously. We had to negotiate with the IRS. Get on plan to pay off these, you know, payment plan.
KING: They can be good about it, though, right?
LATIFAH: They were agreeable. They were pretty agreeable. They worked with us fairly well on it, and I was able to kind of knock it out, but the shock that you have, you know, a $1 million bill to pay with the IRS and it's not there is like, oh, my God, you know. It freaked me out.
KING: All of these things. You're close to your brother. In fact, you write that his loss took you so far into darkness, people worried you'd never come back. Later you go broke. How can you put on your crown?
LATIFAH: Because that's what it's about. It's about those moments that happen in your life. Those times, those things that happen in your life and how you respond to them. It's not just about what happens. It's about your response to it. So, the response is not to lay down and die, you know, to just take it. Response is to challenge it, to fight back. to fight through, to fight through it, and these are very difficult things. I mean, just reading the audio book for this book really -- I mean, just reading a chapter about my brother, I was in tears in the studio reading this thing, because it took me right back to all of those, you know, to that whole experience, but you know, God is good.
I'm going to tell you that, Larry. God is good, and God really brought me through that, because it was a very, very difficult -- it's the most difficult thing I've been through in my entire life. To lose someone that you are so close to -- I remember, like, my hands got weak. I lost the strength in my hands. Like, I couldn't make a fist. We're fighters in our family. We like to wrestle and have fun, but I lost the strength in my hands. And I was like, wow. We were that close that I'm losing, you know, that I became weak, but you know, he's an angel, and I have many people praying for me, and I was able to kind of get through it.
KING: You're very candid in this book. We're going to talk about that when we come back.
KING: The book is "Put on Your Crown," the guest is terrifically talented Queen Latifah. It's always great to have her with us. You also write about a DUI incident that led you to a wake-up call about alcohol.
LATIFAH: Oh, boy.
KING: Were you addicted?
LATIFAH: No, no, but I think -- you know, when you do what we do for a living you're in entertainment, you're in the spotlight, and you have to carry, you know, wear a lot of hats, and you -- I think at that time, I was just maybe using alcohol to numb whatever that I was, you know, whatever emotions I was dealing with, whatever I was exhausted about, and I just didn't pay attention, and it was kind of like a -- God just pulled my skirt a little bit and said, wake up, girl. Get it together, you know. And I --
KING: Did you have to go to court?
LATIFAH: Not actually have to appear in court. I did have to go to court, you know, to deal with it, but for me, more importantly, it was about paying attention to my own emotions and my own feelings and the things that I'm dealing with and not to use alcohol as something to mask anything else, you know, but really just get on point. Pay attention. And I thought about -- and I'm so thankful that -- that I had that wake-up call, because I thought about all the times, you know, all the people who, you know, are killed in drunk driving accidents, and I was -- I could have been -- it could have been a lot worse.
It actually wasn't a DUI. It was a reckless driving. I was not actually impaired, but I was over the legal limit. And it just made me think, that's not responsible. That's not the right thing to do. Wake up. Get it together, you know. I'm fine with checking myself when I'm, you know, when I'm not doing the right thing.
KING: Do you think maybe she should read this book. Do you think Lindsay Lohan can get it together?
LATIFAH: I think anybody who has an opportunity to have treatment for an addiction, and she obviously has some addictions that she's dealing with, can bounce back from it. But it can take years, you know. I have a lot of people in my family who have dealt with substance abuse, and some of them, it took 20 years, but they did get it together eventually. But you have to deal with that as a disease, as an addiction, not just as -- here's a wild party crazy girl, you know. This is just a human being dealing who's with an addiction and you have to look at it like that. And if they get the proper treatment and they're able to, you know, really face it, then I think anybody can overcome.
KING: In this day and age, you're candid about many things. You don't discuss your personal life which is fully your business.
LATIFAH: No, Larry. Don't go there, Larry.
KING: I'm not. But how do you protect in this day and age, 24/7, internet, how do you protect any kind of privacy? Anybody. How do you protect it?
LATIFAH: How do you protect it? You can't protect it.
KING: I can't. You can't. You walk down the street, they take your picture. Why?
LATIFAH: I know. You know, that the thing is for me, I just feel like -- I mean, I don't read all of the blogs and I'm not media hungry like that. I don't have to look at myself online every day. I live my life. You write about my life. You write about what you see. I share with the public the things that we should share. We should share music --
KING: It's nobody's business.
LATIFAH: I mean, we share my music. Let's share that. Let's share films. Let's share that. Let's share thoughts about, you know, positive things. Let's share those thing, but what happens in my personal, personal life is my personal business.
KING: Do you think the public has come know it all list that kind of expects things?
LATIFAH: I mean, I think they do. I mean, it's become a media frenzy, to you know, kind of feed on people's personal lives, and some people put their personal lives out there. They like to share all that with the public.
KING: That I can't figure.
LATIFAH: I mean, I'm not that person. I'm happy being, you know, just locked. When I'm off -- when I walk out of this studio, I'm just Dana. I enjoy just being Dana. I don't need to be Queen Latifah, the brand, 24 hours a day, you know
KING: Who came up with that queen did?
LATIFAH: I did, thank you. Yes. I'm pretty good at coming up with things like that, Larry.
KING: One day you're sitting around and said, I think my name will be Queen?
LATIFAH: OK. It's going to sound kind of crazy, but I was 8 years old and my cousin, Shoranda (ph), brought this Muslim book of names over. And each name had a meaning to it. So, when I read the name Latifah, it said delicate, sensitive, kind, nice. And I was 8 years old, but I was big for my age. I was usually like the biggest girl in class, but I was a teddy bear on the inside. I was all those things. Delicate, sensitive, kind and nice. And I thought to myself, that should be my name. I know, I'm 8, but this is where my brain went. So, Latifah became my nickname when I was 8.
And then when it came time when I started rapping, and it became, you know, it came time for me to decide what my professionally known name would be. My lawyer asked me, what do you want to be professionally known as? I kicked a bunch of things around. I didn't want to be emcee Latifah or, you know, all these different monikers that you could have put on, but I thought, Queen, you know. My mom raised me to be a queen. Queen. Queen Latifah. And I asked all my boys, and they thought it was cool. So I went with it, Larry. I went with it.
KING: Good move.
KING: We'll be back with the queen.
LATIFAH: With the queen.
KING: The book is "Put on Your Crown," right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Queen Latifah.
LATIFAH: All the walk of fame. You? And I did it my way. Sing jazz in the shower no one woman should have this much power --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Queen Latifah. The book, "Put On Your Crown." This is guaranteed best-seller, of course, I'm going to leave it to you, who wrote it (ph). You recently hosted the BET Awards.
LATIFAH: I had a blast.
KING: Singing with Chris Brown, do a tribute performance of Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror." becoming very emotional. You later said, he needs to be forgiven in connection with the abuse thing with Rihanna. Why does he need to be forgiven and there are some people who thought he was not sincere. What's your overriding thought on all this?
LATIFAH: For me, being there, and seeing that performance, I think he was completely sincere, number one. And I'm sure many things were going through his mind. Number one, it's a Michael Jackson tribute. So, just to the hear Michael Jackson's music and to see the dance and to feel that energy was one thing that was already happening, but I really -- I really feel like he was also, you know, taking responsibility for what he's been through, and he's a young guy. I mean, how long we going to beat the guy up for? I mean, they both moved on. They both accepted what happened.
He's paid the penalty, and hopefully, he's learned from it, but he's young. He needs an opportunity to learn and grow. I'm not saying he was right by any means. like I completely disagree with any man putting their hands on a woman, ever, however, people when they're young and emotional, they need to learn how to deal with their emotions, and especially if you've grown up around abuse, it's something that is, you know, you've seen, and you've -- you know, accepted it, or you desensitized to it to some degree.
So, now it's time to get more sensitive to it. To really never do it again and learn from it, but, I mean, I think at some point, we can't keep Chris Browning him to death. You know what I mean? KING: During the BET Awards, Queen Latifah changed costumes many times. Putting on outfits she wore for various movies and TV shows. Look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LATIFAH: First name Queen. That's Latifah. New Jersey -- covergirl features
I would like to take this moment to thank Ron Artest. No, no, no, no. Not for winning the championship but for introducing me to a psychiatrist.
(SINGING) LATIFAH: Walk it out, walk it out walk it out, baby
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going to an awards' show, that's a bad idea.
LATIFAH: Hey, relax, homey. I just want to get this picture right quick. Smile!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, OK.
LATIFAH: Please welcome, welcome to the tenth anniversary of the BET Awards!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You've gone up and down weight wise. You have to change clothes a lot?
LATIFAH: Yes. I lost weight during our show, changing all those outfits. I was exhausted, but I had so much fun, and it was kind of fun having a little walk through time. But, no, weight's good.
KING: You were a basketball player as kid, right? Pretty good?
LATIFAH: I was pretty good. I wouldn't say I'm a superstar, nothing like that, Larry, but I think I was pretty good.
KING: Michelle Obama's brother guest on this show recently, Craig Robertson coaches Oregon State, believes that people reveal their true character on a basketball court.
LATIFAH: I believe that. I believe that. Because, you know -- and you know what, I love playing organized sports. It taught me a lot. Taught me how to be a team player, taught me how to sacrifice, how to share, how to celebrate, how to compete, how to be composed. One of the things my coach always drove into our head was composure. Composure. Composure. So, all of these things that I learned playing basketball, I was able to take into life, into this career, you know. How to be composed under pressure.
You can't shoot a movie without 150 people, you know. They're all there. We all make it happen together. So, that teaches you how to be a team player. I need to work with you, customs, wardrobe, hair, lighting, grips. Everyone has to work together. So, a lot of those lessons you definitely can take into life.
KING: Queen played a diehard basketball fan in her recent movie "Just Right." Here's a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LATIFAH: You must be talking about Randolph (ph) versus MLK, 1993? Sophomore year he scored 23 points in the first half, another 32 in the second half, 18 rebounds, 10 assists, 9 steals breaking the high school record for double digits in a single game? I've been a basketball fan since before I could walk, so --
KING: You did a pretty wild love scene in that movie.
LATIFAH: Easy, Larry.
KING: With rap star, Common. No. Was it hard -- with 150 people around, was it hard to do it?
LATIFAH: You're not allowed to have 150 people around doing a love scene.
KING: What? Two cameramen?
LATIFAH: You know what, oddly enough, that was -- that was like a day off for me. I mean, because I produced as well as acted in this film. So, I was wearing a lot of hats through the whole movie, and that day, when we had to shoot our love scene, I just asked Common. I said, Common, you got me? He was like, I got you. I said, all right. Let me relax and the just be a lady, you know. You handle this woman right here, and he had me. So I was -- in between him and the director center, who made sure everything looked right, I felt quite comfortable.
KING: The book is "Put On Your Crown." What's it like to be a brand? Queen Latifah will tell us, ahead.
KING: We're back, the book, "Put On Your Crown," the guest, Queen Latifah. She was Dana Owens in Newark, New Jersey. Ever feel like Queen Latifah has taken over, that you are a brand, and that's a big word these days? A brand. You're Coca-Cola.
LATIFAH: I'm coca-cola, Pepsi and them, you know. Let me get my soda on. No. Queen Latifah outgrew me years ago, and I remembered it. I remember I was 24 years old, I was doing "Living Single" and I had a record out, and so many things were happening. All of these articles and covers and -- I was like, this is way beyond who I am. This is now gone to a whole new level. And which made me even more so want to just be me. To stick -- I mean, I still have the same energy I had since the beginning, over 20 years now.
We've known each other since high school. I still work with a lot of my friend who I've known since high school. So, I have real people around me, who can pat me on my back when I'm doing good and smack my hand when I'm doing something naughty, and it just keeps me more grounded. Queen Latifah became a phenomenon in a sense, but underneath, the queen is just locked. And I think that's what people really get from me, and what they feel like -- when people approach me on the street, they just feel like they could hug me, you know. Like they feel like they know me, and they say that to me. It's just because I'm still me. Underneath all that huge Queen Latifah business, it's just --
KING: Did you ever miss not being known on the street? Not being famous?
LATIFAH: I remember losing my anonymity. I mean, especially growing up in New York -- well, New Jersey, but I hung out in New York a lot. You know? You could go to New York and just be anyone you wanted to be. You could disappear into eight million people. And you could change your name, or wear a different outfit and --
KING: You must miss some of that?
LATIFAH: I do miss it, but, I mean, I've been doing this a long time. At some point, you just get used to it. That's why, like I said, it's really important that when I'm off, I just get to relax and do normal things, and not be in a spotlight. I don't crave it like that.
KING: You believe in change. You believe obviously people can overcome things.
LATIFAH: I do.
KING: Can Tiger Woods overcome?
LATIFAH: You know, Larry, you asked me about Tiger Woods before, and we going to leave Tiger alone.
KING: I'm not -- I like Tiger.
LATIFAH: Listen, I think anybody is capable of overcoming challenges, you know, with the right things in their life. The right -- number one, I think God can do all things. So -- and people praying for you means something. And I think he can overcome whatever challenges he faces. I think underneath all of that, I think maybe he lost his self in there, along the way, and he just has to get centered again. And I think he gets that. So why not?
KING: You mention God a lot. Have you always believed?
KING: In the darkest days?
LATIFAH: Yeah, I have, actually.
KING: Ever doubted?
LATIFAH: Doubted? No. Questioned? Yes. But -- but for me, I think God is much bigger than what we can see in our minds. I think it's OK to be angry sometimes, or to be sad, or to shout or question. But I think the most important thing is the faith to know that you are covered, and you'll get these answers when the time is right, and just to know -- just to have that faith. Even though you can't touch it or see it or things aren't exactly how you want it at the time, you just have to know it's going to happen.
He's got you. He's got you, Larry. You stay strong, brother. You stay strong.
KING: I'll try. Not always easy. Jennifer Hudson co-starred with you in "The Secret Life of Bees," suffered the murder of her young mother, brother and young nephew. Have you talked to her?
KING: How's she doing?
LATIFAH: She's doing great.
KING: That's tough to recover.
LATIFAH: When I see her, she is doing great. She is a strong, amazing woman. And what a tragedy, but I think she has God, and he'll see her through. You know, that's where I'll leave that.
KING: When you think of you, first, what -- are you a singer, actress, entrepreneur? Queen Latifah, what is the occupation on the diver's license?
LATIFAH: Daughter. Daughter of Rita and Lance. I think I start at daughter. I'm a sister, an aunt. I'm that friend. I'm all those things before I become a rapper.
KING: Are you the glue of the family?
LATIFAH: I don't think I'm the glue. I think there's a lot of glue in the family. We all keep each other together.
KING: Ever go back to Newark?
LATIFAH: Yeah. That's where my family's at. So I have to go back. I have to see me family, my friends.
KING: Now you're going have the Nets and a new soccer stadium.
LATIFAH: I know. The soccer stadium looks amazing, too.
KING: Betty White was in the movie "Bringing Down The House" that you did with Steve Martin. One of the funniest movies ever made. Ever made, "Bringing Down The House." Did you have fun doing that?
LATIFAH: I had so much fun doing that movie, it makes no sense. And Betty White, that's my girl.
KING: What do you make of her? She's now a king of the world -- queen -- she's a queen.
LATIFAH: Exactly. I cannot stop watching her on SNL. I keep pulling it up online. I'm like memorizing scenes. She is so funny. And I can't wait to see her new show. I hope it's just a big smash hit. I hope it's a big hit.
KING: The whole thing was the Snicker's commercial in the Super Bowl, brought her back.
LATIFAH: I mean, she got tackled.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: White, come on!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LATIFAH: It's hilarious. Betty is great, because she's not afraid to laugh at herself. She doesn't take herself seriously. It's the people who take themselves seriously that look kind of ridiculous.
KING: Queen Latifah, of course, is a jersey girl. We'll get her take on how reality TV is treating her home state. Her book is "Put on Your Crown." We'll be right back.
KING: OK, Queen, your state is now a reality TV sensation. "The Jersey Shore." "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," there's a tendency to make fun of it. It's the middle state between New York and Pennsylvania.
LATIFAH: I know. People are starting to find out that we got a cozy little spot there.
KING: How do you feel about the way Jersey is being imaged, if that's a word?
LATIFAH: Jersey has always been imaged in a weird way. You know? Where you from Jersey? OK. What exit? Associated with mobsters and stuff like that.
KING: Very bad somewhere out there.
LATIFAH: I know. But New Jersey is a great place to live. And we have given some of the best talent to the world, from Jack Nicholson, John Travolta, to Jerry Lewis to Bon Jovi to Frank Sinatra. You know what I mean?
KING: Not bad with that one.
LATIFAH: The Fugees, Queen Latifah. I mean, we have something about us that I think -- we just have this thing. And we're able to move around the world. Everywhere I go, I seem to run into somebody from Jersey. And they seem to know that -- we all seem to know we're from Jersey, for some reason. KING: Do you mind the reality shows?
LATIFAH: I mean, it's just a reality show. Aren't all reality shows reality shows?
KING: What do you make of the popularity? They are cheap. They're easy to put on.
LATIFAH: OK, Larry. Whatever you say, man. Whatever you say. You tell me.
KING: I don't understand at all.
LATIFAH: People like watching other people's lives. That's just what it is. This was predicted to happen a long time ago, and now it's here, and people just really are fascinated by watching other people's lives. I think, you know, shows like "The Real Housewives of Jersey, and " The Jersey Shore," they're just very entertaining. I did Jay Leno with Mike the Situation, and he just -- he lives like ten minutes from me in Jersey. He's like, if you ever get a flat, call me. I'll come fix your tire. That's how we do. That's neighborly, you know?
KING: Did you run into a lot of -- was there a lot of prejudices in the town?
LATIFAH: Prejudice in America -- of course, you run into prejudice. When the cab doesn't stop for me and it stops for the white guy, that's prejudice. That's racism.
KING: That would drive me nuts.
LATIFAH: It -- you know what? It's hurtful. It drives you nuts, but you don't let it break you. You know? We strong, resilient people. We are not going to let something break us. We just bounce back. You find a way. You find a way. And, also, we try to build bridges to combat that. That's why, music -- I love making music, because music is universal. When I first started rapping, people thought hip-hop was a fad. It was going to die. It's ruining the people, the kids. Don't let your child listen to this. Now you got people rapping all around the globe, in every language.
KING: My kids. When you started, were there female rappers?
LATIFAH: There weren't a lot. There were never a lot of female rappers. There were a lot more when I started than there are now.
KING: Less now.
LATIFAH: Yes, less now, less that are out that we have records playing on the radio. But I think there's going to be a resurgence. I think the call is on for more female voices in hip-hop. You have to have that balance. If you don't have it, then there's something missing.
KING: How does it feel to be 40? LATIFAH: It feels pretty good, Larry.
KING: Is 40 the old 30? Sixty is the old 50.
LATIFAH: I don't know. People can keep --
KING: Some people put an onus on 40, and life begins at 40. Forty is middle age.
LATIFAH: You know, my grandmother, Inez Owens, god bless her, passed away at 94. And when I tell you her spirit was that of a 19- year-old at 94 -- I just just never looked at age the same way other people did. I wasn't one of those people that was freaked out when I turned 30. I don't have this done. I don't put time limits on when I have to do this. I'm going to do this at 25, that at 30. Because life is change. It changes. And what happens along your path is what happens while you're going there.
So you can't just limit yourself. What happens if you don't meet that deadline? Do you just fall apart, or do you push through it and keep going? Or do you figure out a new thing, a new plan?
So, for me, like, I always hung out around people that were usually about four years older than me. And they made life look so interesting and fun that I've never looked at age as being something that you had to behave a certain way. To me, it's about how you feel inside and how you live your life. So 40's good; 40's good, Lar.
KING: You'll be around a long time. We're going to ask when we come back if it's true that characters that she plays in films cannot be killed off. We'll ask if that's true. Don't go away.
KING: In some of your early movies -- the book "Put On Your Crown," the guest Queen Latifah -- you were killed off. Is it true that there's now a death clause in your contract, that Queen Latifah cannot die in a film?
LATIFAH: No dying allowed anymore.
KING: Is that true?
LATIFAH: I did. It was kind of a joke, but -- excuse me. I think I just died too well on camera.
KING: Supposing you get -- supposing someone gives you a great script, a phenomenal -- this is Oscar stuff. You were nominated for an Oscar -- you got to die?
LATIFAH: I might be flexible.
KING: There's a death scene? Runs about eight minutes, just you into the camera.
LATIFAH: Wow, eight Minutes. Where's the camera. Push in. Come closer. Come. Closer.
KING: Don't. Ever turn down a role that you regretted?
LATIFAH: No. No.
KING: Never had that happen?
LATIFAH: I have never turned down a role and regretted it. I usually go with my gut.
KING: Your mom, Rita Ray Owens, part of the new book, anyway, even wrote part of a chapter called "Love." Why is she this close? Why are you so close to her?
LATIFAH: My mom is just like -- she's just like my best friend. There's nothing that I can't talk to her about. There's nothing that she can't talk to me about.
KING: A lot of mothers and daughters divide along the way. You know that's true?
LATIFAH: It's true. Like, because girls, we act up. Mama's want to spank us. No. But my mother and I, we've never had that relationship. Even when I was being rebellious or challenging, or questioning certain things, I still had respect for my mother, and I knew that I could rely on her. She's always been there.
And I think my mother, she's an artist. She was an art teacher. She's an art -- she's a creative person. And she fed so many parts of who I am. She was fascinated by my brother and I. Like, she spent a lot of time with us, and watched us, and allowed us to do things to discover who we are, and encouraged those things, as opposed to forcing us to do one thing and limiting us. And so, I mean, even my friends --
My friends love my mom. They all know they can talk to her. When everything is crazy, and no one else can calm me down, my mother just has this soothing voice. You know? And I'm good.
KING: You think you'd be a great mother?
LATIFAH: I think I will.
KING: Want kids.
LATIFAH: I'm pregnant. Just kidding. Calm down. Thought you had the scoop. No.
KING: You would be a great mother.
LATIFAH: I think I would be a great mom. And I'm definitely planning on doing that.
KING: You're doing a new movie in Chicago, right?
LATIFAH: Oh, yeah.
KING: With Kevin James and Vince Vaughn, right?
KING: I don't imagine then is a serious drama?
LATIFAH: It is so dramatic. And I'm going to die. It's going to take me eight minutes, but I'm definitely going to die.
KING: Ron Howard is directing it.
LATIFAH: Ron Howard is directing it. It will be hilarious. Just our rehearsal was so much fun.
KING: What's the title?
LATIFAH: It's tentatively titled "Cheaters" right now. But it may change by the time it comes out. Vince is so spontaneous, so quick-witted, and just funny, just dead funny. I can't wait to do it. I look forward to it.
KING: Ron doesn't do many comedies.
LATIFAH: No. Ron is so good.
KING: He must be a wonderful director to work for.
LATIFAH: Oh, man. It's hard for me, because when I'm around him, I'm like --
KING: He's Opie.
LATIFAH: Yes. Yes. I mean, yes. Stars still get star struck, you know? And I just grew up watching him. And I watched how amazing a director he became and what kind of great films he made and it was just like -- I'm just very honored to be able to work with him.
KING: Was it tough to be nominated and lose?
LATIFAH: No. I made a lot of money after that.
KING: Just getting nominated.
LATIFAH: I got paid, Larry. No, it was great to be nominated, because it's a small club. It is a small club. Everybody doesn't get nominated for an Oscar.
LATIFAH: Yes. I was with a great people. It was a "Chicago" sweep, and was as part of a great film. Everyone fired all pistons on that movie. And to be part of it and to have the opportunities that came to me as a result of being nominated and that film -- the weekend of the Oscars, when "Chicago" was out, "Bringing Down the House" was the number one movie in the box office. So it made like 37 million.
I'm sitting at the Oscars. There's Tom, Denzel, Merryl. I get to say things like that. And my film just kicked off. So it was a good thing for me. I was happy.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments. And I'm going to have Queen Latifah read from her book.
LATIFAH: Queen Latifah, the book "Put On Your Crown." We'll have her read from it in a moment. I've got to ask you, what do you think of Lady Gaga?
LATIFAH: I love Lady Gaga.
LATIFAH: She's avant-guard. She's extremely talented. She shakes things up a little bit. She works really hard. So I like that.
KING: This is from "Put on Your Crown".
LATIFAH: This is if I ran into the 19-year-old version of myself,
"If I ran into a 19-year-old version of myself, I would just tell her to live full out. I might also tell her to go ahead and have a few babies and not worry about the timing of it. But mostly, I'd tell her that she's stronger than she thinks, that she shouldn't doubt herself on her path. I'd say, Dana, do you know who you are? Guess who you get to be? And guess what? You even get to lose weight.
"No. No, you're good. You're good. Just keep doing your thing. And I say the same thing to you: celebrate, make every moment count, walk tall, wear your crown with pride."
KING: How should reader use this book?
LATIFAH: However they feel. This is not -- I'm not preaching to people. This is really more of a conversation about my path through life. And I find by sharing true things about the ups and downs, and how I respond to them, I find that people can share that. Maybe someone can skip going through something that I had to go through. Or if they're going through something and they need a little inspiration, maybe they'll find some of these words inspirational.
I found that a lot of fans have inspired me through the years by just saying certain things to keep me going. So why not give that back? Why not share, you know, amongst one of -- amongst ourselves some positive vibes. That's all, just positive inspiration, and maybe a few tools to get to where you need to go. Or maybe if you've been stuck in a rut, shake it up a little bit. You know? And shake it off. And try, try again. You know? Just keep moving forward.
KING: One other thing about "Chicago," you looked like you were having so much fun making that movie. It must have been hard work.
LATIFAH: It was very challenging. Doing musicals is usually six weeks of rehearsal, two weeks singing, two weeks acting, two weeks choreography and dance. But I love that. I live for that. And being in the hands of Rob Marshall, who --
LATIFAH: -- the most gracious and incredible director. To see, you know -- especially at that time, I wasn't quite where I am now, in terms of status. So to see Catherine Zeta-Jones humble, Rene Zellweger humble, Richard Gear humble, in the hands of this guy. Everyone checked their egos at the door and said, OK, what do we have to do? And just worked so hard. He delivered for all of us.
KING: Have you seen the show on Broadway?
LATIFAH: Not yet.
KING: You still haven't seen "Chicago."
LATIFAH: Oh, "Chicago," yeah.
KING: You saw it?
LATIFAH: Oh, yes.
KING: Did that affect the way you played it?
LATIFAH: No, because I was -- my mama is a completely different mama. I had to be Latifah mama, not anyone else's. So what I did love was that there were a lot of the Broadway actors and dancers in the actual movie. So seeing how amazingly they executed it live and seeing them bring it to the -- to the film was wonderful.
KING: Enjoy having you with us, Queen.
LATIFAH: Thank you.
KING: Queen Latifah. The book, "Put on Your Crown".
LATIFAH: Put it on.
KING: Put it on.
LATIFAH: Your crown.
KING: Time now for "AC 360."
LATIFAH: Get you some.