01 May Queen Latifah: Mission Driven
For Queen Latifah, business isn’t as much about making money as it is about breaking barriers.
After scoring success in the 1990s as a rapper in the male-dominated field of hip-hop, Latifah made perhaps a greater name for herself as an entrepreneur, using her platform, her influence, and her dollars to help others break their own glass ceilings.
In 2019, she partnered with Proctor & Gamble and Tribeca Studios to create Queen Collective, a program designed to support female directors through mentoring, providing distribution opportunities, and supporting film production.
The year before, her company Flavor Unit Entertainment partnered with the Essence Creators and Makers Fund. This $20 million endowment from Essence Communications’ parent company, Essence Ventures, helps fund film, television, digital, and documentary projects by people of color. “One of the most difficult things is struggling to find the capital to continue your ideas,” Latifah said when the venture was announced at the 2018 Essence Festival.
Even her real estate ventures are fueled by a desire to give back. In 2019, her company BlueSugar Corporation announced an investment in a $14 million affordable housing project in Latifah’s hometown of Newark, New Jersey.
Recognizing the power of her brand, Latifah lends her name to campaigns that promote causes she believes in, such as a 2019 Cigna campaign promoting physical and mental health.
She told Forbes that she is driven to do meaningful work, adding, “Checks will come, but I really need to do work that is worth it because it’s taking up time in my life, and if it’s taking up time in my life, it’s taking time away from people in my life.”
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