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Meet Gina
Describing her attraction to the project, Queen Latifah says one of the big draws was her character, Gina. "I like to play strong characters who are vulnerable at the same time,” she says. "Gina reminds me a lot of my mother, a lot of myself – she reminds me of woman like my mom and me and friends of mine and single parents who are out their raising their kids and have to wear many hats. I like to see someone go through challenges and overcome them, and that's what Gina's all about.”

The other aspect of the script that appealed to Latifah was the strength of Gina's dream to open her own shop. "You've got to have a dream,” she says, "You have to decide, ‘Here's something I really want to accomplish and here's how I'm going to do it.' There's a lot of people out there with dreams that never get anywhere. You have to dream, because then you're not limiting yourself in what's possible, then you fall in love with it, have a passion for it, and you make it a goal. And you go for it.”

Latifah says the thing that most gives Gina her need to succeed is her love for her daughter, Vanessa. Vanessa's the reason Gina leaves Chicago for Atlanta – Vanessa is accepted at a prestigious music school – and she's the reason she works so hard to make it on her own. Gina wants to set an example for her daughter, which is also why she decides towards the beginning of the film that she's had enough of Kevin Bacon's Jorge, who owns the salon Gina works in at the beginning of the film.

"Jorge is one of those guys who is probably talented, but somewhere along the way became the boss who used everybody else's talents to keep everything going,” says Latifah. "Gina knows how good she is at what she does and she's willing to deal with a little bit for the sake of her daughter, but at some point it becomes a question of principle. She's just not going to have someone disrespecting her too much. Gina can go toe-to-toe with the best of them and she can take a punch – but she can give one, too. That's what motivates her to keep moving.” Gina leaves Jorge's with nothing but her talent, her pride, and a dream. After securing a small loan and working to spruce up a run-down shop in Atlanta's urban center, Gina's Beauty Shop opens its doors.

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