Singer-actress Queen Latifah is a Grammy® winner, Oscar® nominee and true triple threat. Her latest role in the new movie musical Hairspray showcases her talent for singing, dancing and acting—not to mention she looks great as a blonde! Gayle talks to Latifah about the movie, her co-star John Travolta and what it's like being a blonde.
Gayle says Hairspray, which is based on the Broadway musical, is so much fun, she dares anyone to see it without jumping out of their seat. Latifah says she and the cast had just as much fun making it. "It was a blast doing a musical, which in itself is so infrequent," she says. "When you get a chance to do one, you just have to jump right in!"
While the movie is a fun-filled, song-and-dance extravaganza, Latifah says it also has a more serious, underlying message about race relations in 1960s America. Her character, Motormouth Maybelle, hosts a monthly "Negro day" in which African-American teens are allowed on a local teen show called The Corny Collins Show. The plot thickens when Negro day risks cancellation. "Anybody who really takes a good look at this movie is going to see a lot, without having to have it banged over their head," Latifah says.
Co-star John Travolta plays an unusual role as a female character named Edna, which required three hours of makeup and meant that John had to dress in drag. Latifah says she got used to seeing John as a woman, and that he played the role exceptionally well. "He's kind of a sensitive sweetheart anyway, so even if you're kind of just having a conversation with him off to the side, it tends to be about something very loving or interesting," she says.
In Hairspray, Latifah's character dons an attention-grabbing blonde hairdo, which the actress says was a fun look. For the movie's New York premiere, Latifah wore a yellow dress and a platinum blonde wig. "There's nothing worse than somebody who takes themselves too seriously," she says. "This was a fun event, this is Hairspray, and my character wears this blonde wig. They are so over the top, so I felt it would be kind of fun with the whole festive vibe!"