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Queen Latifah has done it all — from music to TV to film. She’s a well-rounded entertainer who has taken on the role of iconic Bessie Smith in HBO’s Bessie.

She opened up to Uptown Magazine about getting naked onscreen for the first time and talked with the publication about Smith’s sexuality and its significance.


“I’ve never done that before,” said Latifah, who still went through with it. “I don’t find [this nude scene] any more uncomfortable than kissing a girl in Set It Off and stick to the script. You have to take your mind off of yourself and honor that character. Respect Cleo, respect Bessie.”

“I’m not really sure how people will feel about [Bessie’s bisexuality],” she said. “It’s not like it’s a secret with her story. She was just free.”

Latifah shared her thoughts on homosexuality back then as compared to today. She’s angered that there are still issues with acceptance for gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

“People’s ideas in general are antiquated when it comes to who you love,” she said. “We haven’t moved as quickly as we probably should. And the reality is that there’s always been gay people in the Black community, so it’s not foreign to us.”

“And not just as a Black community but just a society as a whole…Who you choose to marry is really up to you and it’s not something you should be judged on,” she added. “I don’t find being gay or lesbian to be a character flaw. Couples should be protected under the laws of this country period. It actually angers me. It’s not unusual to let’s be adults and let’s move forward.”

Bessie airs on HBO May 16th at 8 p.m.

Read more of the interview at Uptown.

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