Queen Latifah is a legend in the industry, but that doesn't mean she hasn't had her fair share of hardships. Latifah battled sexism in hip hop before transitioning over to Hollywood as a lead actress as a female emcee. She's since become a leading lady. One of her most notable roles is as Khadijah James on the hit FOX sitcom Living Single. The show chronicled the lives and friendships of five 20-somethings living and working in New York City. It was the inspiration for Friends. Though Living Single was the No. 1 show of its time, network executives didn't always appreciate its cast...or how they looked.
While discussing her new campaign, 'It's Bigger Than Me' with Novo Nordisk, Latifah recalled when she and her castmates' weight became a subject of contention. "I remember when I was doing Living Single, the word came down that we needed to lose weight, and it was like, what? Now mind you, we have the number one show among Black and Latino, Latinx audiences at the time. And we have a hit show and you're telling us we need to lose weight," she said, as reported by The Jasmine Brand.
Latifah admits it stung to hear those words. "We look like real people. We look like real women. We all look different," she continued. "And those are the kind of things that come to you that can chip away at your self-esteem. That's the kind of insensitivity that we're fighting against right now. That's the kind of shame planting that can destroy self-esteem."
Despite being hurt, she says she used it as inspiration to rise above all obstacles. "That did bother me. But of course, it didn't make a difference," she added. "I didn't change anything as a result of it. If anything, I'm just the rebel. Don't tell me what to do because I'm going to do the opposite. But it did make me cognizant."
This isn't the first time Latifah or her Living Single co-stars have complained about unfair treatment from the network. Friends, which was shot on the same lot as Living Single, received bigger budgets and higher pay for their cast. TC Carson, who starred as Kyle Barker on Living Single, revealed in an interview with Comedy Hype that he was vocal with the network about their minimal pay and perks. As a result, he says he was fired and blacklisted as being challenging to work with.