How Queen Latifah's Wise Business Moves Molded Her $70M Empire
Photo Credit: Rich Fury

How Queen Latifah's Wise Business Moves Molded Her $70M Empire

Queen Latifah is definitely responsible for a lot of “firsts” for Black female rappers. 

She’s the first Black female rapper to be nominated for an Oscar (for Best Supporting Actress in 2003’s “Bessie”) and the first Black female rapper to be halfway to a coveted EGOT (according to CBS Watch Magazine).

Queen Latifah was the first rapper to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (per Billboard, she achieved the honor in 2006).

And her third album, “Black Reign,” became the first album by a Black female rapper to receive an RIAA certification, ultimately snagging a gold certification (per Apple TV).

In short, the Queen knew how to give it to ’em at a time “they” weren’t sure they even needed it, and she’s more than a little responsible for rap music becoming the culturally dominant force it is today.

These days, Queen Latifah is perhaps best known for her acting career thanks to the success of films like “Set It Off” and television shows like “Living Single” and, most recently, “The Equalizer.” But without her groundbreaking Hip-Hop career, many of today’s biggest female rap stars wouldn’t have the career they have had. From Nicki Minaj to Saweetie, all of today’s female rappers owe more than a slight debt of gratitude to rap’s first feminist, whose royal title is well-earned and well-deserved.

And the woman born Dana Owens in Newark, NJ, didn’t become successful by playing the court jester. On the contrary, her groundbreaking career — combined with her smart business moves — has netted the Queen a royal $70 million (per Celebrity Net Worth) net worth.

Let’s take a look at how Queen Latifah rules over her empire.

Editorial note: The net worth listed in this piece is a speculative estimate drawn from a variety of online sources.

Music Career

Photo Credit: Al Pereira

According to Billboard, Queen Latifah’s career is nothing if not diverse. She’s snagged hits on charts like the Adult Contemporary charts and even the Hot Gospel Songs charts.

But, as might be expected, she’s had the most success in Hip-Hop, in both album sales (10 songs have charted, and two have been Top 10 hits) and airplay.

Acting Career

Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison

Just like her music career, Queen Latifah’s acting career is equally impressive. According to her IMDb, she’s had nearly 100 credits as an actress, and nearly 50 credits as a producer. She’s done everything from voiceover work to soundtracks, and she even had her own eponymous talk show.

Flavor Unit Entertainment

Photo Credit: Jason Kempin

In the early days of Tri-State Hip-Hop, it was a great honor to be named a member of the Flavor Unit. The collective of DJs and emcees, which was headed by DJ King Gemini, was also comprised of Ladies Fresh — an all-female Hip-Hop group with Queen Latifah at the forefront, and one of the first all-female Hip-Hop groups of its kind.

And so it came to pass that in 1995, Queen Latifah paid homage to her roots when she christened her production company Flavor Unit Entertainment. The company, which was co-founded by Latifah and Shakim Compere, is one of the most powerful production companies in the industry today. In addition to partnering with Centric to bring exclusive content for Black women, it’s responsible for the production of television shows (including Queen Latifah’s current hit, “The Equalizer”) and films (such as “The Cookout” and “Deuces”).

In 2021, AfroTech reported that Flavor Unit Entertainment snagged a first-look deal with Audible.

Endorsements

Photo Credit: Gary Miller

Throughout her career, Queen Latifah has partnered with several companies to endorse their products. She’s been the spokesperson for companies like Cover Girl, Pizza Hut, and Jenny Craig, Celebrity Net Worth reports.

In 2018, Carnival Cruise Lines revealed that Queen Latifah was the godmother of their newest ship, the Carnival Horizon.

Best-Selling Book

Photo Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez

In 1998, Queen Latifah partnered with Karen Hunter to drop “Ladies First: Revelations of a Strong Woman,” which quickly became a best-selling memoir.

Affordable Housing

Photo Credit: BlueSugar Corporation and GonSosa Development

In 2019, NJ.com revealed that Queen Latifah was behind an affordable housing project in Newark, NJ, that cost a whopping $14 million. Latifah’s BlueSugar Corporation — of which she is the vice-president — partnered with noted New Jersey developer GonSosa Development to execute the housing.

“The project includes 20 three-family townhomes and a three-story mixed-use building with an additional 16 units,” reported the outlet. “Plans for the building include a fitness center and 1,900 square feet of commercial space that will be rented to nonprofits. The 60 units in the townhouses will be market-rate; the 16 units in the building will be affordable.”

Partnership with Essence Ventures

Photo Credit: Paras Griffin

In 2018, Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment partnered with Essence Ventures to invest $20 million in content that represents women of color. Our sister site, 21Ninety, was one of the first to break the news.

“Essence Ventures LLC, the parent company of Essence Communications, Inc., will invest $20 million to help creators of color develop, produce and secure financing for their projects,” reported BizJournals.

The Queen Collective

Photo Credit: Alison Luntz

In 2019, Diversity Woman Media revealed that Queen Latifah launched The Queen Collective, which she created in conjunction with Proctor & Gamble and Tribeca Studios. The Queen Collective is a mentorship program designed to help female directors — especially Black female directors —  support their film careers.

Real Estate

Photo Credit: Zillow

In 2015, the Asbury Park Press revealed that Queen Latifah sold her home in Colts Neck, NJ, to move to the West Coast. The custom home, which was built in 2001 to Latifah’s specifications, initially was placed on the market at a hair under $2.4 million, but the buyer paid just a little over $2 million.

That same year, she parted ways with a home she co-owned in the West Hollywood district of Los Angeles for $1.65 million. According to the Los Angeles Times, she and Jeannette Jenkins purchased the home in 2009 for $1.34 million.

Currently, she lives in Beverly Hills, CA, in a mansion she bought from Steven Spielberg.

You can check out the video tour of the mansion below.