Regina King is an anomaly in Hollywood in that she was born here. And this native of Los Angeles has only good things to say about her birthplace: “I love my city and I feel like the majority of the people that are in the city are people from other cities. So I think that L.A. sometimes might get a bad rap because it's known to be so Hollywood-oriented and then underneath that you have crime. But that's really the case in pretty much any major city that you go to.”
Regina Rene King started her career with a small role in a movie that is now widely considered a cult film. She played Shalika in Boyz n the Hood. Supporting parts in big blockbusters made her known as a character actress, be it Jerry Maguire, How Stella Got Her Groove Back or Enemy of the State. Her breakout film was Ray with Jamie Foxx. Sandra Bullock hired her as the second lead in Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous and she became that rare thing in Hollywood – a working actress. When feature film roles were sparse she looked elsewhere. And as television became more and more a place of great quality product, she found work on the series 24, Shameless, The Leftovers, and American Crime. It is no coincidence that this gifted actress is nominated for film and TV roles this year.
In Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk she is a mother trying to hold her family together against the odds. There was no hesitation in taking the part, even though she had not read James Baldwin’s book on which the film is based: “I believe Barry actually wrote this screenplay for If Beale Street Could Talk before he wrote Moonlight. I got the opportunity to represent a woman that so many children, male and female, know as a mother or a grandmother. Barry and I connected talking about those things and I think that commonality between our relationships with our mothers and grandmothers is what made the communication when Barry and I were on this journey.
Her TV role is just as memorable. In Seven Seconds, she is Latrice Butler, the bereft mother of a young boy slain by a police officer
“Both Seven Seconds and Beale Street are very relevant now. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a blessing to have art and activism meet. We hear so often, oh are we talking about that again? But if we stopped talking and don’t move the talk to action, the talking never moves to action. I feel lucky that I get the opportunity to be a part of this continuing conversation, and I am not going to act like this subject matter is light. When the role of Latrice chose me, that role knew how committed I would be to something that affects me and my community so deeply. I have never really known where there has not been police violence in my community.”
Regina King can next be seen in the thriller All the Way with You and the Damon Lindelof-created series Watchmen.