NEW YORK, NY - MAY 03: Singer Queen Latifah and her mother Rita Owens attends the VH1's "Dear Mama" taping at St. Bartholomew's Church on May 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

Queen Latifah is mourning the loss of her mother, Rita Owens.

The actress confirmed the news Wednesday, revealing Owens passed away after a long battle with a heart condition.

In a statement to ESSENCE, Latifah—born Dana Owens—reflected on the loss and called her mother, an educator and an art teacher, “the love of [her] life.”

In this ESSENCE Now interview, editor Danielle Kwateng-Clark speaks with Queen Latifah about her involvement with the American Heart Association and how she’s raising awareness for heart failure.

“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news my mother, Rita Owens passed away today,” wrote Latifah. “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 heart broken but know she is at peace,” she continued.

“Thank you for your kindness, support and respect for our privacy at this time. Much Love, Dana Owens (aka Queen Latif‎ah), forever Rita Owens’ daughter.”

In 2016, Owens and Latifah co-starred in a PSA for the American Heart Association.

And last September, Latifah opened up to ESSENCE about her mother’s condition and how it inspired her work with the ‘What The HF‘ campaign to raise awareness for heart failure.

“My mom was diagnosed with heart failure, it was a complete shock to us,” she told ESSENCE. “It was the last thing we expected, but she passed out in school one day. You know, she was a high school teacher, and she kinda took a dive one day. Initially, it was shock and fear, and then it was like, ‘Ok. What do we do?’”

“So there are a lot of things you can do and there are a lot of people living with heart failure. But you just have to be aware of what’s going on.”

You can read more about Latifah’s work with the American Heart Association, here. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time.

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