Queen Latifah took home the Lifetime Achievement Award on Sunday night’s BET Award 2021. She thanked her parents while her father joined her on stage, but who and where was her mother?

After over three decades in the music industry, Queen Latifah received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BET Awards 2021.

Lil’ Kim, Monie Love, Rapsody, and MC Lyte took to the stage to honour the 51-year-old, performing a medley “Just Another Day,” “Ladies First,” and “UNITY”.

The artist tearfully thanked her parents, while her father accompanied her on stage clutching the award. Although her mother was not present, Queen Latifah read her speech off the back of her photo, leaving viewers curious of who she was.

Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic

Meet Queen Latifah’s mom

Rita Owens passed away aged 69 on March 21, 2018 due to a long struggle with a heart condition.

In an exclusive statement to PEOPLE, Queen Latifah, real name Dana Owens, said:

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“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news my mother, Rita Owens passed away today. Anyone that has ever met her knows what a bright light she was on this earth. She was gentle, but strong, sweet, but sassy, worldly but pragmatic, a woman of great faith and certainly the love of my life.”

“She had struggled with a heart condition for many years and her battle is now over. I am heartbroken but know she is at peace. Thank you for your kindness, support and respect for our privacy at this time. Much Love, Dana Owens, forever Rita Owens’ daughter.”

In an Instagram post captioned “143”, meaning I love you, the video shows a collection of Rita’s happiest moments.

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Rita was a teacher at her daughter’s school, Irvington High School in New Jersey. She separated from Dana’s father, Lancelot Amos Owen, when Dana was 10-years-old.

She also had a career of her own in the entertainment industry thanks to the help of her daughter. Queen Latifah wrote 2004 comedy film The Cookout and its sequel in 2011, landing Rita the role of Nettie Washington.

In 1994, Rita played Dana’s on-screen mother in her sitcom Living Single.

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