Put on Your Crown: Life-Changing Moments on the Path to Queendom by rapper, actress, and Covergirl Queen Latifah is a compendium of lessons from a big sister who’s had a great deal of success and some hard knocks along the way. She uses her experiences to dish out advice on standards of beauty, self -esteem, being healthy, making money, losing a loved one, relationships, and much more. Offering her own, her mother’s and other people’s wisdom, she encourages women to ‘listen to [their] inner queen[s].’ She states: “inside every woman, there’s a queen, and you owe it to her and to God to do everything in your power to live your most fulfilled and happy life. Don’t let the moments pass you by… Be strong, be authentic, be you, and you will do her proud.”
There’s much to take away with from this memoir on the Queen’s life and stardom. For example, she discusses the need to form positive partnerships to facilitate mutual success. In the section titled, “The Perfect Partner,” she argues: “a lot of people in my business are surrounded by ‘Yes’ men and women. There’s always someone around to pump you up and tell you everything you do is great. They blow smoke up your behind and tell you, “oh, you’re so cool…you’re so funny…” You rarely hear the word ‘No’ and what that does is create a false identity. When people are telling you Yes all day, you never get a sense of who you are or where you really stand.” We’ve seen this Yes problem trip even the greatest of stars up in recent history like Michael Jackson. Fortunately for Queen Latifah, she has a business partner whom she’s known since they were teens, her parents, and other childhood friends on her team.
On job security, she advices: “Ladies, I know I don’t need to tell you there’s no job security anymore so don’t let a job define you. That’s just part of the whole package not who you are. That’s also why you need to diversify…you need to mix it up so that if one thing drops, you have others to fall back on”
On beauty, she complains about the media’s fixation on a warped idea of beauty contending that “when they start lightening up the skin of black women like Beyonce or Jordin Sparks, when they start chopping off the curves or body parts of perfectly normal women to make them look gaunt and sickly like they did in that Ralph Lauren ad, it’s time to draw the line.” Because these false images cause women to harbor negative feelings about their own bodies, they begin to reshape, abuse, or starve themselves in a bid to look desirable. Conclusively, she states, “there’s beauty in every kind of woman.”
Surprisingly, she discussed going broke twice despite doing good business and making lots of money. Both times, it was a result of inattention. She explained: “we had friends and family working for us – people we loved and wanted to be loyal to. We threw thousands of dollars into our new label… We decided to buy our own 48 track recording studio… We were paying for our offices, studios, too many employees along with their salaries and benefits and artists…somehow in our confusion and zealousness to reach our goal, we weren’t thinking and had overextended ourselves almost to the point of bankruptcy!” From these experiences, she admonishes: ALWAYS SIGN YOUR OWN CHECKS! Additionally, learn about handling your business, investments, and saving.
If you are looking for fluid narrative or an in depth account of life in show business, this is not the book. What Queen Latifah has done is offer anecdotal advice using her life as a backdrop. The book is concise, easy to read or listen to (I listened to the audiobook); insightful particularly for young girls (I made my 13-year old listen to parts of it) and also entrepreneurs (the business advice is useful); and Queen Latifah (Dana Owens) is a credible source of the information she shares having spent 20 years in show business as a rapper, singer, actress, and Covergirl. She was the first rapper to get a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Further, she has won a Grammy, a Golden Globe, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Image Awards, an Emmy Award, and many nominations. Overall, the book is a good read.