In Fox sitcom, Latifah will show life under control TURNED ON IN L.A. -- Fall Preview

July 13, 1993|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

LOS ANGELES -- Queen Latifah says she's not confused about what's art and what's real life when she's playing Khadijah James in the new Fox sitcom, "My Girls."

"Khadijah is Queen Latifah. She's me, except she's not known," Latifah said yesterday. "It's important for people to understand that."

"My Girls" is an ensemble sitcom about four young, African-American women living together in Brooklyn. Think of it as an urban, African-American "Designing Women" for twentysomethings.

Khadijah, the publisher of a small magazine, is a kind of hip housemother to her roommates, who are played by Kim Coles ("In Living Color"), Kim Fields ("Facts of Life"), and Erika Alexander ("Going to Extremes").

There's considerable talent in the rest of the cast, but it's Latifah who's most widely known. Her records have been nominated for Grammy awards. She's appeared in such feature films as "Jungle Fever" and "Juice." And it was the Queen who did most of the talking at a press conference yesterday to promote the show.

"The reason I've done a lot of the things in my real life is out of necessity," Latifah said in answer to a question about starting her own record company. "If I'm serious about my music, then I want to control it. And owning a record company is the way to do that.

"That's what this show is really about -- us being in control of our lives," she continued.

"There are a lot of real-life applications. And that's what we can offer men and women . . . images of strong African-Americans taking control of their lives."

In that regard, Latifah said that even though "My Girls" has yet to air,she figures it is already a success.

"Just by us being here today makes it successful," she said. "Because it shows us working hard, trying to do something in this world. And that's important for people to see."

Latifah dismissed the notion that some of her MTV and rap music fans might see her move to prime-time, network TV as a sellout.

"I'm not concerned with that," she said.

"My records will take care of that. What I am concerned with is the integrity of keeping my character as close to myself, the normal me, as possible . . . of keeping that reality . . . What counts is that Khadijah is Latifah."

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