Regina King portrayed the around-the-way girl we grew up with on “227,” Poetic Justice and A Thin Line Between Love and Hate. Her characters have checked Ray Charles, made Jerry MaGuire show her family the money, dissected conspiracy theories and saved the world from evil. In November, King will lead an all-star cast as “Treacherous” Trudy Smith in a “new school” Netflix Western, The Harder They Fall.
Along the way, King has added directing and producing to her repertoire, which includes shorts, music videos, the BET film Let the Church Say Amen and episodes of “Southland,” “Being Mary Jane” and “Scandal.” One of her projects is The Story of a Village, a documentary focusing on a friend’s efforts to rebuild a school in Sierra Leone. Another special project is her debut feature film, One Night in Miami, for which she earned Golden Globe and Directors Guild nominations as best director.
“King has worked hard to reach a place where she has agency and choice: how she presents herself to the world, including how she wears her power,” writes acclaimed author Jesmyn Ward in her cover story for the October issue of Vanity Fair, “The Power and the Glory of Regina King.”
The 50-year-old actress considers it a blessing to have worked consistently for more than three decades in roles ranging from the voices of Riley and Huey Freeman on “The Boondocks” to Erika Murphy on HBO’s “The Leftovers.”
As Aliyah Shadeed on ABC’s “American Crime,” she had her addicted brother’s back as he faced a murder rap in a powerful, but rare, performance as a Muslim woman on prime-time television. Veiled in a hijab, King exuded her character’s strength through the conviction of her words, her facial expressions and those eyes. As a result, she attended the 2015 Emmy Awards ceremony for the first time in the best possible way — going home as a winner for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series.
She won another Emmy for her role as Angela Abar in HBO’s “Watchmen,” a series that viewers didn’t want to end, as well as an Oscar and Golden Globe for best supporting actress as Sharon Rivers in Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of the James Baldwin classic If Beale Street Could Talk.
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“I just have a desire to tell stories that speak to me,” she told Ward. “Even if it’s a fantastical story, I still feel like the story has to have some bit of heart in it in order to draw people in and keep people there.”
Fierce and fit, King performs some of her own stunts, dances, runs, hikes and could still do a cartwheel long after other grown folks had decided to keep their feet firmly planted on the ground. But her greatest role, she maintains, is being mom to her son, Ian. In her Emmy acceptance speech, she praised her mother and then 92-year-old grandmother for teaching her “the power and blessing of being a woman.”
As Ward noted, “King’s body of work shows that she is passionate about portraying all the nuances of the human spirit. She revels in humor and in joy.”