In celebration of Black History Month, we’re honoring 5 successful celebrities and entrepreneurs who grew up in Newark, NJ. We bet you didn’t realize Newark breed this much talent? Just another reason why Newark is the place to be for people with big dreams.
1. Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah is most known as an actress, hip-hop singer, and rapper but she’s also a successful business woman. In her earlier years, she grew an interest in investment and put money into a delicatessen and a video store on the ground floor of her Newark apartment. After realizing she loved business and has a natural knack for it she continued to find opportunities to invest.
In 1991, Latifah organized and became CEO of the Flavor Unit Records and Management Company. By late 1993, the company had signed 17 rap groups, including the very successful LL Cool J. Now the firm includes television and film production units, a record label and an artist management company.
In 2010, Latifah’s company became a partial owner in New York Spring Water, the manufacturer of VBlast vitamin-fortified water.
Queen Latifah also serves as a spokesperson for CoverGirl cosmetics, but unlike the over spokeswomen, she has her own line within the company called The Queen Collection.
“No one ever got ahead by going through the motions. You have to constantly be improving yourself. Make your life the masterpiece you want it to be.”- Queen Latifah
2. Shaquille O’Neal
Shaq is one of the greatest NBA basketball players of all time. But his success doesn’t end there. As of today, Shaq is the joint owner of 155 Five Guys Burgers restaurants, 17 Auntie Annie’s Pretzels restaurants, 150 car washes, 40 24-hour fitness centers, a shopping center, a movie theater, and several Las Vegas nightclubs. We see a trend in his franchise portfolio.
In addition to his business holdings, O’Neal still earns $22 million per year from his endorsement deals with Arizona Creme soda, Icy Hot, Gold Bond, Buick, Zales, and at least a half-dozen additional corporate sponsors.
In Shaq’s own words, “It is not about how much money you make. The question is are you educated enough to KEEP it.”
3. Whitney Houston
The late Whitney Houston was proud to call Newark her hometown.
Houston is one of pop music’s best-selling music artists of all-time, with an estimated 170–200 million records sold worldwide. No one will deny her incredible talent.
I decided long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadow; if I fail, or if I succeed at least I did as I believe.- Whitney Houston
4. Donald M. Payne Senior
Donald M. Payne Senior was the first African-American to represent New Jersey in Congress. He was a Newark resident throughout his life.
Payne’s voting record was considered to have been the most consistently progressive of all New Jersey Congressmen at the time of his death.
5. J.R Smith
Smith, an NBA player for the Cavaliers, grew his love of basketball on the courts of Newark, NJ. Now he’s entering the entrepreneurial space with his new sneaker store “Team Swish.” He has hinted at debuting the store in NJ but has yet to confirm the first flagship store’s location. We, of course, are hoping it’s in his hometown of Newark.
Being the first day of Black History Month, we knew we had to highlight the incredible talent that has grown up in Newark and made it to global recognized success.
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