Queen Latifah wants to make sure female filmmakers are getting the chance to tell their stories.
The actress and musician, 48, is partnering up with Proctor & Gamble to launch the Queen Collective — an initiative aimed at helping more women step behind the camera. Latifah tells PEOPLE she felt compelled to start the program after her own challenges in Hollywood as a woman of color facing prejudice.
“I think it’s a continuing narrative in Hollywood, unfortunately, and we want to change that entire narrative,” she says. “We want to even the playing field a little bit. Partnering up with P&G for the Queen Collective has been an amazing thing. This is kind of one step of the plan to make things a little different.”
The Queen Collective will welcome submissions from all kinds of women hoping to tell their story. Two women will be chosen from all the proposed stories and the Collective will work with them to make sure their movie is financed, made and distributed — with the mentorship of Latifah herself to help them along.
The idea came from Latifah’s struggles in trying to make it in the industry and finally breaking through thanks to her own perseverance and the help of others who gave her a chance.
“I do not fit the typical mold of what then was looked at as an A-List actor — say size two, blonde, short, thin. They’re all out the window when it comes to me,” she says. “So I mean, everything had to change. I had to really change a lot of people’s minds and earn a lot of people. And also create my own endeavors because people just didn’t get it.”
She continues, “I owe a lot of people credit out there for helping me along, as well as what we were able to do to create for ourselves. One thing I swore that I would do if I got to a position of power, I would make sure that when I looked out behind that camera, that people would look like what America looked like.”
The actress is hoping this helps more diverse narratives make it through the Hollywood mold that has for years told the stories from the perspective of the white men who have predominantly been in charge.
“We see a lot of stories that have been told through their lens in every way, shape and form,” Latifah says. “White guys have been able to tell their story in every sort of way, and unfortunately it hasn’t been that way for women. And it hasn’t been that way for people of other colors or genders. That’s the part that’s missing. We want to make sure that everyone is allowed to tell their story.”