space“>As rapper/singer/actor Dana “Queen Latifah” Owens mourns the loss of her mother and best friend Rita Owens, many of her friends and supporters have showered with love during this difficult time in her life. Actor Michael K. Williams is among her circle of supportive pals
The Wire alum recently opened up about his long-time friendship with Queen Latifah.
Sitting down with Lola Ogunnaike for PeopleTV.com’s Couch Surfing series, he described why her nearly 30-year presence in his life has been so influential.
“I love her, man. I love me some Dana,” Williams commented as he watched a scene from Latifah’s HBO special, Bessie, as Bessie Smith. In it, Williams played the role of her husband, Jack Gee.
Williams revealed that he’s been referring to Queen Latifah has “Lady O,” since they were 17— not to be confused with Oprah Winfrey!
“She was the first thing to inspire me,” Williams continued. “She was the first person that I saw in my life that made [success] tangible.”
Williams says that one of his favorite memories is of Latifah, shortly before her career skyrocketed, stopping by his Brooklyn home to share exciting news.
“She was like, ‘Mike, don’t tell nobody, but I got a record deal. I’m about to make a record, and things are gonna change in a minute.”
Williams subtly made it clear that he had smoked a bit too much marijuana at the time of her announcement and didn’t fully understand what she was telling him. About a year later, after he “handled his business to got [his] head together,” mutual friends told him about her success.
“They was like, ‘You don’t know?’” Williams recalls. “I said, ‘Know what?’ They said, ‘Dana on the radio, bro. She got a record. That’s Queen Latifah now.’ I said, ‘Queen La-what-the-who?’”
The two certainly share a beautiful chemistry on and off the screen.
Queen Latifah Mourns Her Dearest Friend
Rita Owens, the mother of actress and hip-hop legend Queen Latifah and her closest confidante, died Wednesday after struggling with heart failure for more than a decade.
Latifah released a statement to several media outlets confirming Owens’ passing.
“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news my mother, Rita Owens passed away today,” Latifah wrote. “Anyone that has ever met her knows what a bright light she was on this Earth. She was gentle, but strong, sweet, but sassy, worldy but pragmatic, a woman of great faith and certainly the love of my life.”
“She had struggled with a heart condition for many years and her battle is now over,” Latifah shares. “I am heartbroken but know she is at peace. Thank you for your kindness, support and respect for our privacy at this time. Much Love, Dana Owens (aka Queen Latifah), forever Rita Owens’ daughter.”
Owens worked as a schoolteacher while raising her daughter in Newark, N.J. But later she often made cameo appearances in her daughter’s projects.
The two women campaigned on behalf of the American Heart Association with the “Rise Above Heart Failure” initiative, aimed at bringing awareness about heart ailments to the public.