Queen 'Bee' Expands Empire

The Washington Post's Ellen McCarthy talks with Queen Latifah about her limitless creative potential, her music and her new movie, "The Secret Life of Bees." Audio by Ellen McCarthy, Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images
By Ellen McCarthy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 17, 2008

Queen Latifah is tired.

The lady is jet-lagged and yawning, nudged into the corner of a couch, bare feet heavy on a coffee table, eyelids drooping, croaking words as if she'd just been wrested viciously from a nap.

And still, there's something radiant.

"You're going to love her," one from the royal court of assistants standing at her door promised.

"She's incredibly charming," chirped another. "Really nice."

At each accolade, the immense man with the crossed arms closed his eyes to nod reverently.

But there's only 15 minutes and she's been at this all week, again and again answering copycat questions from a string of salivating journalists across the country in promotion of her new movie, "The Secret Life of Bees."

"Charming" seems like a lot to ask at this point.

But doubt, and you've done the one thing the world should know never to do to Queen Latifah: underestimate her.

"I feel like I could go even further," the actress/rapper/jazz crooner is saying now of her creative potential. "It's crazy, sometimes I feel like I'm just running over. I'm spilling over with ideas and things I'm attracted to.

"One minute I'm playing the drums and the next minute I'm conceiving a script, a film idea, and then I'm on my iTunes, downloading new music and getting into it, then I'm painting, you know, or doing some mixed-media project, some art project."

She speaks slowly, pressed into that Ritz-Carlton couch in Georgetown, her hair tucked into a newsboy cap, face scrubbed of any makeup. There is a calmness in these moments, maybe the corollary mode to those frenzied spurts of creative energy.

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