Queen Latifah Confessed Why It Was Tough For Her To Play Lesbian “Cleo” In ‘Set It Off’
Most of us remember when rapper/actress, Queen Latifah, played the hell outta her “Cleo” character in Set It Off. The way her lesbian character busted her guns during the bank robberies and kissed her mute girlfriend, was one of the most convincing roles in movie history.
In fact, it was almost a lil’ too convincing and kicked off what would become a never-ending rumor mill of real-life lesbian allegations for Queen.
Although Latifah has never confirmed, nor denied, the homosexual rumors (nor the several seemingly affectionate photos of herself in public with females at times),
many would argue that Latifah confirming she’s a lesbian would be about as “shocking” as Kim Kardashian ‘confirming’ she likes Black dudes with money — an allegation Kim’s never denied nor confirmed either. But I digress…
Point is! Queen Latifah had a problem playing her “Cleo” role, and here’s what she revealed about that in a prior interview.
Although many of us enjoyed watching Queen Latifah kill it with her Cleo role (even the way Latifah “died” as “Cleo” in the film was profound), what we didn’t know at that time, was that it was the toughest role for her to portray, according to what Latifah revealed to actress, Tracy Ellis Ross, who interviewed her for In Style magazine:
TER: Were there any career decisions that were particularly hard to make?
Queen Latifah: When I got the role of amateur bank robber Cleo Sims in Set It Off, I sat down with my younger siblings and told them, “Listen, I’m playing a gay character. Your classmates might tease you or say negative things about it. But I’m doing it because I believe I can bring positive attention to the gay African-American community, and I believe that I can do a great job as an actor.” They understood, and when those things inevitably happened in school, they were OK with it.
So as you can see, the role wasn’t tough for Latifah because it was a lesbian role…it was tough because she was worried about affecting her family with it. This again, will probably drive those rumor mills into overdrive, yet again. I can just see it now: ‘Latifah is comfortable with lesbian Cleo character because she IS “Cleo”‘…
Quite frankly, we, here at I Love Old School Music, love Latifah – lesbian, straight, bi, or try-sexual (a word we learned from Tevin Campbell’s interview). She has, and always will be, one of the most versatile actresses in the game. And to witness how far she’s come with her multi-talented career – ever since her 1989 “Ladies First” days – deserves a round of applause! The only problem I have in all of this, is that in my opinion, Latifah is just as gifted as her fellow rapper-turned-actor, Will Smith, but she has yet to earn $20 million-per-movie acting gigs…that’s the real controversy…not whether, or not she’s a lesbian…just saying.
Keep doing your thing Queen, you’re inspiring many!