Queen Latifah on ‘Magnolias’ bonding

This undated image released by Lifetime shows Queen Latifah as M’Lynn in a scene from the Lifetime Original Movie, "Steel Magnolias," premiering Sunday, Oct. 7, on Lifetime. /AP Photo/Lifetime, Annette Brown

By// Darralynn Hutson

The original Steel Magnolias (1989) boasted an ensemble female cast — Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton, Daryl Hannah and Julia Roberts — in its portrayal of a strong, supportive group of southern women. Lifetime’s 2012 version’s African-American ensemble includes Queen Latifah, Alfre Woodard, Jill Scott, Phylicia Rashad, Pariah’s Adepero Oduye and newcomer Condola Rashad, Phylicia Rashad’s daughter.

A champion for strong Black female voices on the big and small screen, Latifah was asked to be a part of Steel Magnolias by veteran film producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan. “I was brought on to this project because Neil and Craig called me, script unseen,” Latifah says. “I trust that these guys will always come with the best product.” The trio worked together on Hairspray and Chicago; both, box offices successes for the actress

The TV movie was shot in Louisiana on a short, 18-day schedule. The women were able to bond during conversations while being styled for their scenes. “We spent a lot of time in the hair and makeup trailer together,” Latifah says. “Adepero and Condola were always on their iPad, I’m always playing house music, Alfre is telling us the stories about her kids moving on to college and running out the house…”

Steel Magnolias, directed by Kenny Leon, premieres Sunday, Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime. It airs again at 12:01 a.m. ET Tuesday. //