Queen Latifah grew up with the name Dana Elaine Owens; the second child born to Rita and Lancelot Owens. Dana was only 8 years old when her cousin crowned her with the name Latifah, the Arabic word for “delicate” and began using it as her stage name in school performances.
It’s another example of how we sometimes think celebrities choose their name as they’re riding the crest of becoming famous, when in reality the change was made much earlier in their lives. It’s easy to imagine the young Dana Owens referring to herself as Latifah at the tender age of 8. I always admire children with that much confidence in who they are and the courage to put it out there.
She added Queen to her name in response to negative references to women in rap songs. She noticed how women let others make them feel too fat or too skinny or anything along those lines. Adding “Queen” to her name helped her remember her true identity and helped others treat her with the respect she deserved. When asked about her name, she had this to say, “So that was the name I chose, but my mom laughed at me. ‘Queen? I’m the queen, I raised you,’ she said. So she is the real Queen and just lets me borrow the title. And she still makes me take out the trash when I go home.”
She has shown that the respected moniker is well-deserved with a career that has now spanned 20 years and includes singing, rapping, acting, and co-founding her own record label.