Queen Latifah says she faced a ‘hard decision’ to play the gay role of Cleo in ‘Set It Off’ early in her career
Queen Latifah has steadfastly refused to discuss persistent rumors about her sexuality.
But she has played queer characters on stage including bisexual singer Bessie Smith in the HBO movie Bessie last year.
But 21 years ago, the Oscar-nominated actress agonized when offered another queer role in the 1996 film Set It Off.
‘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,”‘ Latifah tells Huffington Post.
She also told the siblings: ‘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.’
Latifah now says: ‘They understood, and when those things inevitably happened in school, they were OK with it.’