Queen Latifah, Full of Faith in 'Joyful Noise': Acting, Hip-Hop and Motherhood

PHOTO: Queen Latifah sat down with "Good Morning America" anchor Lara Spencer to discuss her latest film "Joyful Noise."PlayLorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC
WATCH 'Joyful' Queen Latifah on Career

You've gotta have faith in Queen Latifah.

Recently at Bowlmor Lanes bowling alley in New York City, the acclaimed actress, singer and business mogul met up with ABC's Lara Spencer and talked about her new film, juggling her career and what inspires her.

She also showed off her bowling skills.

Credit: Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC

"Ya know bowling is just fun for me," Latifah said. "You try to get it perfect. You get to try and hit the strike."

Bowling could be seen as a metaphor for Latifah's thriving career. Strike after strike, Latifah has catapulted her career to the red carpet.

PHOTOS: Queen Latifah Through the Years

Her latest movie venture "Joyful Noise" is no exception. The musical comedy written and directed by Todd Graff focuses on a church choir in a small town struggling through tough times. Latifah not only stars in the film, but is also its executive producer.

"Often times with films, everybody is such, you know, you're trying to appeal to so many people that you edit words like 'God,'" Latifah said. "I'm a Christian. I'm not -- I'm a sinner like everybody else, but it was just refreshing, you know, to have an opportunity to, you know, bring a film like this to the screen."

Latifah plays Vi Rose Hill, a "no nonsense" single mother of two teenagers, who goes head-to-head with G.G. Sparrow, a widowed church executive played by Dolly Parton. The two clash when Hill, the newly appointed director of Divinity Church's gospel choir, wants them to stick to their usual song lineup for the National Joyful Noise Competition, but Sparrow demands new, more pop material.

"Ultimately, it's such an inspirational movie," Latifah said. "The music is so good and it's just one of those films that people need in these tough times, to spend their money on and walk out of that theater feeling uplifted."

Latifah identified with her character and its storyline on many levels. Born Dana Owens, the actress was raised by a single mother in East Orange, N.J., where church, faith and family were a huge part of her upbringing.

"I did grow up in a church and my aunt has been a choir director since I was a little kid, and my mother directs the choir in her church," Latifah said. "I definitely knew I had to bring it."

Although she has no children of her own, the 41-year-old actress said motherhood is not out of the question for her.

"It could happen. I'm just going have to go for it. I don't know, it's going have to happen somehow," she said. "However God sees it happening for me, that's how it'll happen."

Latifah has worn many hats throughout her successful career. She began in the hip-hop scene when she started beatboxing with the musical group Ladies Fresh in 1988, and released her first rap album, "All Hail the Queen," in 1989. From there she shifted to singing soul and jazz, performing concerts with a live orchestra in the mid-2000s.

Throughout the '90s, Latifah also starred in several films, including "Jungle Fever," "Juice" and "The Bone Collector." She had a reoccurring role on the widely popular TV series, "Fresh Prince of Bel Air," and starred in a lead role on hit TV series "Living Single."

"I think coming from a musical background, from a rapper or a singer, it's helped me in my acting career, you know, with timing, with rhythm and you know, even 'Living Single' like-- that timing that you have to have on a sitcom, it was kinda natural to me," she said.

Queen Latifah on Wearing Men's Clothes for 'Set It Off'

The first movie to earn Latifah critical acclaim was when she portrayed a rugged, lesbian bank robber in the 1996 film, "Set It Off." Latifah said she hired an acting coach for the film who helped her prepare for the role by donning men's clothing.

"He did have me wearing, you know, [men's] Hanes underwear, which are really comfortable," she said. "I'm wearing Dickies every day and flannel shirts and boots and, you know, it was like, OK -- braids to the back, corn rows."

After a couple of months of playing such a rough figure and dressing as a boy for several months, Latifah recalled being ready to dress as a girl again.

"I just absolutely could not wait to get a full set of nails and a pedicure and just let my hair flow and just really, really be a girl," Latifah said, laughing. "I don't think I'm an ultra girlie-girl. I think I'm kind of a woman's woman, if you will…I can kind of get down and dirty, but I can also get really beautiful."

But grunge would soon turn into glamour. And soon Latifah landed the role of the voluptuous Mama Warden in the 2002 film adaption of the musical "Chicago." Her booming voice and saucy portrayal earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Tapping into her funny bone, Latifah went on to star in numerous comedic films such as, "Bringing Down the House" (2003) with actor Steve Martin, "Scary Movie 3" (2003), "Taxi" (2004), "Beauty Shop" (2005), and the 2007 musical movie "Hairspray" as Motormouth Maybelle, starring alongside John Travolta and Michelle Pfeiffer.

In 2008, she became the first woman of color to be a spokesperson for the make-up line, CoverGirl.

Now Latifah also has her own clothing line, Queen Collection, which is sold on HSN. The successful actress and businesswoman, who has pulled herself up by her bootstraps, attributed her drive from the strong, motivated women in her family, especially her mother, who have helped make her undeniably Queen.

"[I] see something that is done with beauty that comes from the inside out, with confidence inspiration and sort of collective attitude," she said. "I might be part of that one percent, but I'm part of that one percent that came from nothing and worked my way up to something."