It is no secret that Queen Latifah’s grandmother has diabetes. I wondered if that is why she wanted to star in Lifetime’s “Steel Magnolias?”
—Cookie Johnson, Norfolk, Va.
Latifah, 42, says that in a small way that fact made the role of M’Lynn (played by Sally Field in the theatrical version) more personal, but that is not why she agreed to do it. Rather, it was the more important message of the film, which is that when there is any need by family or friends, you show up.
“There are many things that affect my family members in many different ways,” she says. “It could be high blood pressure, it could be cholesterol, it could be obesity, it could be sleep deprivation or sleep apnea. An illness is an illness, especially if it affects younger kids. Illnesses affect your family and they impact you because you want to do the best you can to help your family members become more healthy.”
Latifah also wanted the opportunity to work with a great cast, which included Phylicia Rashad, Alfre Woodard, Jill Scott and Candola Rashad, who is Phylicia’s real-life daughter but played Latifah’s daughter Shelby in the TV movie.
“It was really about us all bonding together to make sure we got the job done, to make sure we really delivered for [executive producers] Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, and most importantly, for the viewer. [This] experience felt as real as it possibly could because this material is so great in itself. So everyone had to show up, do their best job, and get out of their real life and get into this life.”
Coming up in fall 2013 for the Newark, N.J.-born Grammy Award-winner is a return to hosting a talk show with the launch of the tentatively titled “The Queen Latifah Show.”