55th NAACP Image Awards - Show

Source: Paras Griffin / Getty

As we watch some of our favorite Black series get axed by producers (RIP Rap Sh!t & that potential Girlfriends reboot), Black women’s representation in front of and behind the camera is more important than ever. To support that mission, actress, rapper, media mogul, and one letter away from being an EGOT, Queen Latifah launched The Queen Collectiveto ensure Black women’s stories persevered, told, and supported on the big and small screen. 

What is the Queen Collective?

The Queen Collective is an artist incubator that supports Black female and non-binary artists as they bring stories centering Black folks to life. A short movie born from the program, Gaps, was nominated for a 2024 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Short-Form (Live Action). Gaps, directed by The Queen Collective’s Jenn Shaw, is a heart-touching coming-of-age story of a 12-year-old Black girl struggling to accept the gap in her smile. Shaw said about the film, “It’s just a realistic portrayal of what old and young Black girls go through, and I think it’s rare to see that. And I’m just so happy I was able to tell such a genuine story.” 

Queen connected deeply to the film’s content, grappling with the insecurities surrounding her maturing body during puberty. The Newark native said that she “grew breasts overnight,” and she found the adjustment daunting. “You have to literally carry yourself in an entirely different way in such a short amount of time because this is happening,” she said, which was a hard adjustment given that she was a “very athletic kid” who wanted to “play with the boys in the street.” But she said conversations with her mother helped her understand that all the changes were something to celebrate, not to be “sad about,” which is similar to the plotline in Gaps.

The ecosystem of Black women in film

Shaw found real sisterhood and community in storytelling with other creatives as a part of The Queen Collective, which includes a slew of other talented documentary filmmakers, including Idil Ibrahim (In Her Element) and Imani Dennison (Bone Black: Midwives Vs. The South). “It’s been a validating experience to know that I could create a film that could move people, could make them feel a little tingle of something from their childhood,” Shaw said, “but also spark a real conversation about Black girlhood because you don’t get to see those films as often.” 

Each class of The Queen Collective inspires the actress regarding the future of film and how it can look in the hands of Black women. “Every time we’ve done a Queen Collective, the folks that we’ve partnered with to direct and produce these films have been people who I just look into the future, and I see them creating such huge careers for not just themselves, but for other people,” she said. 

Adding, “I see them creating their own worlds, their own ecosystems” that Black folks can be seen in and thrive in.

Queen Latifah is pro-natural

55th NAACP Image Awards - Show

Source: Paras Griffin / Getty

While the industry vet gushed about the creativity coming out of The Queen Collective, HB asked how she keeps her hair laid and slayed with such a grueling schedule (Queen was just about to hit the stage to host the NAACP Image Awards for the second time right before this interview). While the Hollywood icon said she “can’t give up the crown jewel secrets,” she did dish that protective styling is her go-to. “For me, it’s been my way to always let my hair rest on my days off,” she revealed, and said after growing out her perm years ago, her biggest tip for naturalistas would be, “Leave it the F alone.” She swears by keeping her curly locs nice and moisturized and emphasizes that it’s important not to “overdo it” when it comes to hairstyles that can put tension around the hairline (like ponytails).

“When they do see the beauty that is created by my wonderful stylist, Iasia Maryweather, it is because we’ve worked really hard not to overdo it, or even do more protective things,” Queen said. But she doubled down on her number one tip: “Leave it the F alone, and you can quote me on that!” The Queen has spoken. 


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Queen Latifah Reveals Her Number One Hair Care Tip While Gushing Over The Talented Filmmakers Of Her ‘Queen Collective’  was originally published on