Today, March 18, is the 48th birthday of MC turned award winning actress Queen Latifah.

Born Dana Owens in Newark, New Jersey, Queen Latifah found her place in hip-hop at the age of 18 when she began beat boxing and joined the Northern Jersery rap collective, Flavor Unit in 1988. Other members of the original Flavor Unit include Apache and DJ Mark the 45 King.

Latifah was signed to Tommy Boy Records in 1989 and it was only up from there. Sporting an Afrocentric, feminist persona, Queen Latifah tapped into a small market of hip-hop because she rapped about issues that concern black women. Lafitah rapped about everything from cat-calling to relationship issues. Assisted by the singles "Wrath of My Madness" and her pro-feminist anthem, "Ladies First" featuring Monie Love, Latifah dropped her debut album, All Hail the Queen in 1989. She followed that up with Nature of a Sista in 1991.

Shifting from the music business into acting took Latifah many years. During the '90s, she held guest starring roles on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, House Party 2, Set it Off and Jungle Fever while starring in her own TV show Living Single. Latifah's biggest role to date came in 2002 when she played Matron "Mama" Morton in the Academy Awarding musical film, Chicago. Though she didn't win, Latifah received a Supporting Actress nomination for the part. From there, Latifah garnered big roles in films like Beauty Show, Brown Sugar, Hairspray and The Perfect Holiday.

Today, Latifah is an established name in media. She produces films, has helmed her own talk show, is a CoverGirl spokeswoman and won a . Queen has recently opened up about sharing her success by starting a family "I had some things to deal with. I had to get a lot of partying out of my system early in life for about 40 years. You know what I’m saying?," said Queen on potentially having a little one. "I’m good now. I think I’m ready”

Happy Birthday, Queen!

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