latifah good housekeeping

*Queen Latifah says she wasn’t always the confident rapper–turned–actress that sparkled in “Chicago,” “Beauty Shop” and “Last Holiday.” In real life, it’s been a struggle for Dana Elaine Owens (Latifah’s real name) to accept both herself and her rapid success, she tells Good Housekeeping magazine.

The actress spoke about being a bigger woman amongst the tiny starlets of Hollywood. “…for a lot of the things I’ve wanted to do in life, I haven’t looked typical,” she said “I was not born a size 2. I’m not skinny, period.” Still, she learned early on to embrace her beauty and differences. “When I was around 18, I looked in the mirror and said, ‘You’re either going to love yourself or hate yourself.’ And I decided to love myself. That changed a lot of things,” she recalled.

Sadly, body image hasn’t been the only hurdle Latifah has had to clear. Just as her career took off, her brother was killed in a motorcycle accident. A devout Baptist, Latifah had a hard time accepting the loss. “My life was rocked to the core. And I felt guilty, because I was angry at God,” she explained.

Years later, she was the victim of a carjacking in which her friend was nearly killed. The two incidents sent Latifah over the edge and lead her to drinking as a coping mechanism. She confessed, “Drinking a bunch of alcohol, numbing myself. Every day I would be faded, like a painting that’s just not vibrant, whose edges are dull, I wasn’t living my full life.”

Therapy helped the actress to see past her struggles and handle other deep–rooted issues, including the sexual abuse she faced as a child.