Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah, pictured here at the VH1 Big In 2015 Awards on Nov. 15, 2015, in West Hollywood, California. Getty


  • Queen Latifah was given the television icon award at the inaugural TheGrio Awards over the weekend
  • The actress talked about finding her identity in her acceptance speech
  • TheGrio Awards will be broadcast on CBS this coming Saturday

Queen Latifah opened up about her self-acceptance journey when she accepted the television icon award at the inaugural TheGrio Awards over the weekend.

During her acceptance speech, the 52-year-old actress, rapper and television personality talked about how her sense of identity evolved through the years, according to People.

"It all starts with the family for me. My parents raised me with the idea that Black is beautiful. Black is beautiful, Black is beautiful. Black is OK," she opened her speech at the ceremony celebrating the people who have impacted the Black community and culture.

Latifah continued, "You start saying it enough, and you start believing me. And so I didn't realize at the time that what they were preparing me for was a whole world."

The "Last Holiday" actress also got candid about her identity and shared the moment she realized the differences between girls and boys.

"I didn't know I was a girl, initially, I had to be told that. That had to be explained to me... 'Cause I was running around with my T-shirt off like the boys... I wanted to play the sports and all these things had to be explained to me because I was free," she said.

According to Latifah, she's been spending her whole life trying to maintain that freedom. She's been wearing beautiful gowns and dresses "because that's part of me." She's also playing basketball with the boys because that's also part of her.

"I realize that life is fleeting and you just gotta do the best you can. Be as honest and genuine as you can ... I said, don't go for what people are trying to tell you about yourself," she said.

Aside from Latifah, other honorees at the event included Dave Chappelle (cultural icon award), Patti LaBelle (music icon award), Jennifer Hudson (trailblazer icon award), Tyler Perry (icon award) and Kenan Thompson (comedy icon award), among many others, according to Deadline.

Allen Media Group CEO and founder Byron Allen, the man behind TheGrio Awards, said he created it to celebrate and amplify the excellence and incredible champions of the African-American community.

The two-hour award show will be aired by CBS on Saturday at 8 p.m. EST.

Queen Latifah as Ursula
Queen Latifah stars as Ursula in “The Little Mermaid: Live!” ABC/Andrew Eccles