In the March issue of InStyle magazine, actress and rap royalty Queen Latifah sat down with "Black-ish" star Tracee Ellis Ross for a full-length interview.

Queen Latifah Tracee Ellis Ross

Ross and Latifah

photo: Getty

In the interview, Latifah spoke to Ross about her career, the high points and low points of her life, and the lessons she's learned along the way.

Naturally, the Queen had many accomplishments to touch upon: Including her groundbreaking rap career, Latifah is also a singer, producer, and an award-winning actress. But when Ross asked Latifah to name her toughest career decision, Latifah had a surprising answer:

Latifah said the most difficult decision she ever had to make was choosing to play Cleo in the 1996 classic flick "Set it Off."

Queen Latifah gay
photo: Splash News

"Set It Off" follows four women who plan a bank robbery in Los Angeles.

In the film, Latifah's character — the gun-carrying criminal Cleopatra "Cleo" Sims — was gay. 

Before taking the part, Latifah said she had to warn her family about her character's sexuality.

“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 told Ross. 

Although Latifah has always been notoriously tight-lipped about her own sexuality, she felt that her role as a Black, gay character would benefit the Black community.

Queen Latifah Set It Off
photo: New Line Cinema

She continued:

"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." 

Her family was supportive of her decision.

"They understood, and when those things inevitably happened in school, they were OK with it," Latifah said. 

However, following the movie's debut, Latifah's sexual identity IRL immediately became a topic of discussion.

Queen Latifah sexuality
photo: Splash News

But she learned to quickly shut down any conversation regarding her sexuality.

In a 2008 interview with the New York Times — nearly 12 years after the release of "Set It Off" — Latifah famously remarked, "I don’t have a problem discussing the topic of somebody being gay, but I do have a problem discussing my personal life … I don’t care if people think I’m gay or not. Assume whatever you want. You do it anyway.”

Latifah has learned not to compare her life, her experiences, her body, or her sexuality to anyone else's. At the end of the day, the only opinion that matters is her own.

"I used to get caught up in comparing myself, especially in terms of body type," she admitted. "But I realized that often the people I envied were missing important things that I had in abundance — I’ve had romance and danger, family to come home to, and open-mindedness."

She added:

"It’s about finding your own niche and owning it."