It was a party fit for a ... Queen.
On Friday, two days before the Golden Globes, Will Smith and wife Jada hosted a glitzy Hollywood shindig in celebration of Queen Latifah's nomination for Best Supporting Actress. (Click here for photos from the Golden Globes.)
The rapper, who garnered rave reviews for her role as a prison matron in "Chicago," lost the award but still has plenty of reasons to party. Like a classic musical, Latifah is peaking in her second act.
Though the Queen's career appeared royally stalled after a run of hit albums and a sitcom in the early '90s, she's back with another movie, TV show and album on the way.
When asked if she felt like she was having a moment, the humble rapper answered, "I feel like we're having a moment." Latifah shares all the credit with her business partner, Sha-Kim Compere, and their Flavor Unit Entertainment.
"There's a whole team that is making all these things happen," Latifah said in the limousine ride to her party. "It is a moment now, but the work has been put in for a while."
"Chicago," which features the Latifah/Lil' Kim/Macy Gray collaboration "Cell Block Tango" on its soundtrack (see "'Chicago' Soundtrack Has Latifah, Lil' Kim But Not Janet"), has been the biggest push, although the rapper has other projects buzzing.
First up is "Bringing Down the House," a comedy she stars in as an on-the-lam criminal seeking legal help and love from a lawyer played by Steve Martin.
"There's a lot of sex," Latifah said with a raised brow. "It's celebrity, it's greed, it's reciprocity, it's what you can do with a high-priced lawyer. There's a lot of things in this movie that translate today."
"Bringing Down the House," in theaters March 7, will come complete with a Latifah single and video. The following month she'll drop a new album, First Love.
" 'Cause music is my first love," Latifah explained. "Music is the reason we got into all of this. If it wasn't for music, I don't know where we'd be right now. ... It's kind of like an ode to music. I always come back to my hip-hop roots."
The album will feature appearances from most of her Flavor Unit roster, along with Missy Elliott and Tweet.
"I don't feel like I need to grab every major rapper," Latifah said. "I'm not trying to compete with Eve or [Lil'] Kim or Foxy [Brown]. I'm just looking to carve my little niche. ... To me, it's about making records and taking chances with music."
Also in April, Latifah is producing and possibly directing a movie for Lions Gate Films called "The Cookout," with which she hopes to give other rappers a chance to act.
And later in the year, the former star of "Living Single" is returning to the small screen in a CBS drama called "Mali Anderson."
"It's Angela Lansbury/Nancy Drew meets 'Shaft,' " Latifah explained as her limo pulled up to the trendy Cicada eatery. "She's a cop who was fired because she was sexually harassed by a command officer and punched him in the face. She's real connected to the community. She knows everybody. And she's real smart. She ends up stumbling across all these cases. Let's say a bodega keeps getting robbed and she's so cool with guy who owns it, so he just asks her for help."
Right now, though, Latifah wants to set aside her busy schedule. "We're gonna enjoy this, 'cause you never know when you're going to have this again," she said as she exited the limo.
Latifah has had one stumble in her recent comeback. She was arrested in November for driving under the influence (see "Queen Latifah Pleads No Contest In DUI Case").