Latifah to host Spirit Awards

Duvall, Woodard to co-chair IFP kudofest

Actress and rap star Queen Latifah will take on emcee duties for the 1999 Independent Spirit Awards, to be presented March 20 in Santa Monica. Past winners Robert Duvall and Alfre Woodard will be the event’s honorary co-chairs, Spirit presenter Independent Feature Project/West announced.

Born Dana Owens, Queen Latifah first came to prominence with the 1989 recording “All Hail to the Queen,” which was lauded for its strong female voice and sensibility and earned her best female rapper honors from Rolling Stone magazine. Her sharp and witty commentary on rap, hip-hop and American culture thrust her into the media spotlight, and she further expanded her popularity rapping on David Bowie’s remake of “Fame.” Her 1993 album “Black Reign” included the single “U.N.I.T.Y.,” which earned her a Grammy for best rap solo performance.

Latifah’s first major foray into the acting arena came with the TV series “Living Single.” She received a Spirit award nom for her performance in “Set It Off” in 1997, and her most recent work as a torch singer in “Living Out Loud” has been critically praised. In addition to her involvement in community affairs and social service work, she recently published “Ladies First: Revelations of a Strong Woman” and is prepping a syndicated talk show.

Woodard, a longtime IFP supporter and board member, received her Spirit trophy as a supporting actress in 1993’s “Passion Fish.” She is a leading actress Oscar nominee this year for her work in “Down in the Delta.” Oscar winner Duvall received three Spirit prizes last year as co-producer, star and director of “The Apostle.”

The Spirit luncheon presentation will be broadcast live on the Independent Film Channel and rebroadcast that evening on the IFC and Bravo.

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