The BET Awards is back, and this year the cultural celebration has chosen to honor hip-hop icon Queen Latifah as the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Hosted by Taraji P. Henson, this year's BET Awards will be celebrating with a theme entitled "Year of the Black Woman," of course centering the evening around honoring the beauty and brilliance of Black women's grace.
"For more than 20 years, the BET Awards have been a celebration of Black creativity, art, and excellence," Henson shared in a statement to Deadline. "Returning live, this year's show will be unlike anything we have ever seen before, and I am honored to be sharing the stage with so many powerful and prolific women in music and entertainment."
Latifah has been a true pioneer in music, TV, films, and the beauty world for years, and now she's about to get her well-deserved flowers for her accomplishments. In case you didn't know, here's a few fun facts that highlight her major career milestones:
HER STAGE NAME IS ACTUALLY A CHILDHOOD NICKNAME.
Talk about living up to her name! Born Dana Elaine Owens in East Orange, NJ, Latifah actually earned the latter part of her stage name as a child and later adopted and paired it with "Queen" to create her official moniker.
SHE RELEASED HER WILDLY POPULAR DEBUT ALBUM AT JUST 19-YEARS-OLD.
Her debut studio album, "All Hail the Queen," was released in 1989 through Tommy Boy Records and has gone on to sell over one million copies worldwide. She's always made it a point to make her music all about positivity, female empowerment, and social consciousness.
SHE'S BROKEN BARRIERS ACROSS HIP-HOP AND HOLLYWOOD.
After making a splash in the rap game in the late '80s/ early '90s, Latifah set out to take Hollywood by storm next. Some of her most notable films include Set It Off, Beauty Shop, Hairspray, Girls Trip, and TV shows like Living Single, Star, and most recently, The Equalizer.
SHE WAS THE FIRST RAPPER TO RECEIVE A STAR ON THE HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME.
Back in 2006, the Hollywood Walk of Fame crowned Latifah as the first hip-hop artist to earn their own star. At the sidewalk unveiling, her mother even said, "Who would have known that in the '70s, when a pink 8-pound baby girl was born, this is where she would be today. She came out screaming, 'Look out world, here I come!'"
HER REAL ACTING DEBUT WAS IN SPIKE LEE'S JUNGLE FEVER.
Before we fell in love with her as Cleo in Set It Off, the hip-hop artist made her official acting debut starring in Spike Lee's 1991 film, Jungle Fever. Her role in the movie launched her acting career and made it possible for Living Single to follow suit.
SHE MET HER GOOD FRIEND JADA PINKETT SMITH IN HER EARLY RAP DAYS.
Would you believe it if we told you these two Set It Off stars met way before they stepped foot on a movie set? Latifah and Smith's first meeting happened as teenagers in a Baltimore nightclub where the rapper was performing.
"I'd never seen anyone like her before, this female rapper named Queen Latifah," she recalled to PEOPLE in a previous interview. "I convinced the promoter to let me introduce her." Little did they know that would be the start of a beautiful friendship.
HER PRODUCTION COMPANY INKED A FILM DISTRIBUTION DEAL WITH NETFLIX.
Let the Hollywood takeover begin! In 2013, Latifah and her production company, Flavor Unit Entertainment, signed a multi-year agreement with the streaming giant to stream movies from their collection.
SHE'S HALFWAY TO ACHIEVING EGOT-STATUS.
With as many acting roles and albums as she's put out, it's no surprise that the rap artist managed to secure her status as an Emmy and Grammy-Award winner. Now she just needs an Oscar and a Tony award to complete her esteemed list of accolades.
SHE'S SERVED AS A COVERGIRL COSMETICS SPOKESWOMAN FOR YEARS.
When it comes to championing inclusivity in the beauty industry, Queen Latifah is one of the OG superstars that made this a part of her life's work. As a CoverGirl spokesmodel and brand ambassador for years, Latifah has shown other young Black women that they too can be role models.
SHE HAS A NET WORTH OF $70 MILLION.
As of early this year, the Hollywood and rap sensation has a net worth of $70 million, and we're sure her paper trail won't stop there.