A lot of people remember Queen Latifah playing Cleopatra “Cleo” Sims in the beloved film Set It Off. In the movie, she was a bank robber pushed to the limits when faced with harsh economic realities.
In an interview with Tracee Ellis Ross for InStyle Magazine, Queen Latifah reveals it was a hard career decision to become Cleo. She said, “When I got the role of amateur bank robber Cleo Sims in Set It Off, I sat down with my younger siblings and told them, ‘Listen, I’m playing a gay character. Your classmates might tease you or say negative things about it. But I’m doing it because I believe I can bring positive attention to the gay African-American community, and I believe that I can do a great job as an actor.’”
Considering how different the political and pop-culture climate was for Black LGBT Americans twenty years ago, Queen Latifah’s statement reflects a lot of truth. Queen Latifah continues to be supportive of LGBT issues today, even officiating a gay wedding at the 2014 Grammys.
Shout out to Latifah for breaking barriers!