Queen Latifah thanks rap peers, family, shouts out Pride Month while accepting Lifetime Achievement Award

MC Lyte, Lil' Kim, Rapsody, and Monie Love performed hits from the award-winning multi-hyphenate's classic rap catalog at the 2021 BET Awards

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The Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual BET Awards has always been a highlight of the ceremony. For the 2021 Awards, the recipient is Queen Latifah, the multi-talented rapper, singer, and actress.

During the awards show, Latifah was honored with a tribute performance featuring two of her most beloved hits. Grammy-winner Rapsody performed Latifah’s debut single “Ladies First” with Monie Love, who performed with Latifah on the original recording back in 1989.

BET Awards 2021 - Show
Queen Latifah attends the BET Awards 2021 at Microsoft Theater on June 27, 2021. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET)

Then, Lil’ Kim emerged in an all-white outfit to perform Latifah’s iconic 1993 Grammy-winning anthem of self-respect, “U.N.I.T.Y.” joined by MC Lyte, who also serves as the BET Awards’ longtime announcer.

After all four MCs introduced Latifah, she made her way to the stage accompanied by her father, Lancelot Amos Owens, and stepped to the podium holding a photograph of her mother, Rita Owens, who passed away in 2018 of heart disease, as previously reported by TheGrio.

New Jersey native Latifah, real name Dana Owens, has been on the scene since her debut album, All Hail The Queen in 1989. She amassed classic hits during the golden era of hip-hop such as “Ladies First,” “Come Into My House,” and “Just Another Day.”

As an actress, she’s conquered both film and television. She was the star of the hit 90s Fox sitcom Living Single, her own self-titled talk show, and appeared in movies on TV and on film, including Set It Off, Just Wright and Girl’s Trip and played blues legend Bessie Smith in the 2015 HBO movie, Bessie. She is currently the star and executive producer of the hit CBS series The Equalizer.

She received an Oscar nomination for her role in the film adaptation of Broadway musical Chicago, won a Golden Globe for the 2008 HBO film Life Support, and an Emmy as executive producer of Bessie.

Latifah was emotional during her acceptance speech, thanking BET for giving artists like her and others a platform when they had nowhere else to go.

“I want to thank BET for creating an outlet for beautiful Blackness to thrive, to shine,” Latifah said. “When we couldn’t be played on the radio or other places. We couldn’t get our videos played in other places, there was BET that allowed us to be in our fullness and to shine to this night, right now, right here.”

As a longtime advocate for women, Latifah, 51, explained how her parents have been her inspiration.

“I’ve always celebrated the woman because I was raised by a strong, Black woman and raised by a father who loves women. We can’t live without each other,” she said.

Latifah also thanked her longtime business partner Shakim Compere, for doing, as she recounted, exactly what he’d told her mother he would do, which was protect her. The two formed Flavor Unit to manage her career and that of other artists like the late Apache, the duo Zhané, and Naughty By Nature.

Latifah also thanked her “loves,” her rumored girlfriend, former Los Angeles Lakers cheerleader Eboni Nichols and what is reported to be their son, Rebel, although Latifah has never publicly confirmed a partner or a child.

She did end her speech by saying “Happy Pride.”

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