This is part of The Shadow League's Women's History Month In Focus series celebrating excellence in sports, entertainment and culture.

Queen Latifah has done it all. She’s one of the first female rap stars of the 1980’s and she has flipped that early mic hustle into an empire as a performer, record producer, businesswoman, actress, singer and iconic spokesmodel. Her debut album All Hail to the Queen went platinum and the single "U.N.I.T.Y." earned Latifah her first Grammy Award.

She has also garnered acclaim on the big screen an appeared in a number of high profile films, earning her first Oscar nomination (best supporting actress) for her performance in the 2002 blockbuster musical Chicago.

Her performance in HBO’s “Bessie Smith” was classic and showed the depth of her strength, versatility and adaptability as an actor.

Latifah was born Dana Elaine Owens on March 18, 1970, in Newark, New Jersey. Hip-Hop was her ticket to freedom of expression, female empowerment and evening out the field in the male-dominated music industry.

Her value to our culture has withstood the test of time. She has personally endured heartache, a few run-ins with the law, brief drug addiction and the tragic loss of her older brother on a motorcycle that she purchased for him. Latifah is the epitome of strength, talent, the complexities of humanity and the multi-faceted greatness of the Black woman.

Her music always uplifted her people and reflected positively on the realism of rough urban conditions. 

To celebrate a trailblazer and groundbreaker like The Queen is a no-brainer. Especially when the 5-foot-10 Latifah was a former high school basketball power forward whose vivacious spirit and edgy yet feminine personality was influenced by her days on the hardwood, balling with girls and guys and putting in that work.

One of her classic moments that affirms her athletic gangster is when she ripped Shawn Kemp in a celebrity game and went coast for the layup.

When she had The Queen Latifah Show a few years back, she had a "Hoop There It Is" segment where she played mini-hoops against celebrities.  

From hoops to Hip-Hop to Hollywood to the heavens, Queen Latifah is a soul survivor and entertainment provider worthy of praise during Women’s History Month.