Regina King: The Underrated GOAT Who’s Finally Receiving Her Flowers

She has a penchant for absorbing the spotlight and her role in If Beale Street Could Talk’s no different. We discuss what makes her so great and more.

It seems like the fire and focuses that the great scribe and thinker James Baldwin once breathed into his classic works is alive and relevant within the contemporary sphere. Themes of injustice, disenfranchisement, and the apparent superpower of black women abound in this cinematic rendition of his work. If Beale Street Could Talk is arguably one of his least known works from a mainstream perspective, but speaks to the burden of that racism places on the black man’s body, and the black woman’s mind and heart.

The film adaptation is directed by Barry Jenkins, who wowed audiences with “Moonlight“, and stars KiKi Layne, Stephon James, and Regina King. It tells the story of Tish Rivers, a Harlem woman who fights to exonerate her falsely accused husband as she carries their unborn child.

The book was originally published in 1974. Though a work of fiction, the inherent truth never gets old. Especially so when the paradigm of which it speaks remains static until this day.

Recently, The Shadow League had a one-on-one conversation with Regina King, one of the most decorated black actresses of all-time, about her role as Sharon Rivers in the film that wowed audiences at the Toronto Film Festival. 

The Shadow League:  Though the answer may seem immediately obvious, what was it about this script that made you want to come aboard for this role?

Regina King: Truly the book, he honored the book. He created, I feel, an adaptation that would make Mr. Baldwin proud. Just a combination of the two made it a no-brainer for me. 

TSL: What was it about playing this character that motivated you during shooting and why is it unique?

RK: I believe in the character, I’m seeing the character as a real person. I feel that I can root that character in something. Obviously with source material with this particular film. I feel like I actually can build a back story while it may not be in the script. I think that’s what helps make a performance become less of a performance and more of the feeling that you’re watching life.

As far as going back to what you were originally saying, to add to it. This particular piece, what makes it so unique is that we don’t get the opportunity to see ourselves loving on each other in this way on the big or small screen. And it’s really fantastic to see the reaction of everyone watching this film, white people included. They are having the opportunity, watching for entertainment purposes, but leaving, looking, relooking at a black person. There’ll be a wave that will happen. I think not only do black people need to see this film, I think Americans need to see it.

“Reparations Emmys” Actually Had Very Little Diversity Among Winners

Last night at the 70th annual Emmy Awards the theme was diversity as hosts Michael Che and Chris Jost of Saturday Night Live fame slung the jokes and poked fun at Hollywood tradition and decorum. However, at the end of the night, only two Black actors won the coveted Emmy Award; Regina King and Thandie Newton.

TSL: Talk about working with Barry Jenkins.

RK: First of all he’s a fantastic filmmaker. I think it’s a part of his genes knowing where within the story or within a moment to choose to not move the camera or allow us, in the audience to sit there, sit with the character. He just has that gift of knowing when that moment happens. The silence happens when it needs to happen and it forces us to be there with the character. Barry has this ability, speaking specifically about Beale Street. For anyone who’s read the book, will recognize it’s angrier than what we see in the film. The fact that Barry has the vision and was able to see the love and take that and like a painter spread it throughout the film. It’s just a testament to his gift and his talent. 

TSL: You’re such an incredible actress, in my opinion, that you shine even in the midst of other incredible actors. Russell Hornsby was sensational in Seven Seconds but you received the accolades.

RK: I don’t know if I necessarily see it that way. I look at it as being in totality. I feel like I’m as good because Russell is great. If someone has a weak performance then it kind of makes everything weak.  You think of the entire thing as a link, when you think of a chain, that has a link, if one of those links are loose, that chain doesn’t have the same strength that it does when all the links are tight. So I kind of look at it that way. I learned that from Marla Gibbs early on. She was my mentor. Someone to learn from, up close and personal at a very young age. She said even if the camera isn’t on you, you give 100% so that in end it makes the entire performance, entire story.

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One of the things that we take seriously at The Shadow League are documentaries. They entertain, but also educate, enlighten and uplift with the myriad of intimate information melded together to create a cohesive vision.

TSL: Do you ever stop to think about the fact that you’re one of the most decorated black actresses of all-time? You started out as a child star on “227” and now you’re an award-winning actress.

RK: I’ve enjoyed life. In so many ways I’m at the beginning. I still feel lucky to be getting that opportunity to work with people and be able to be apart of a story that I’m able to tell. I think it’s very rare for a lot of people in their careers. They make a lot of money on a show for a lot of years, but they’re not necessarily fulfilled. And I’m in the position where I’ve gotten to play so many different types of women and been able to work with the best of the best and I feel like in a lot of ways, it’s just beginning.

If Beale Street Could Talk Teaser Trailer #1 (2018) | Movieclips Trailers

Check out the official If Beale Street Could Talk teaser trailer starring Regina King! Let us know what you think in the comments below. ► Buy Tickets to If Beale Street Could Talk: US Release Date: November 30, 2018 Starring: Regina King, Ed Skrein, Dave Franco Directed By: Barry Jenkins Synopsis: A woman in Harlem desperately scrambles to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime while carrying their first child.

TSL: It’s been amazing speaking to you about this project. Is there anything I may have neglected to ask regarding this film that you’d like our readers to know about?

RK: I just want them to know that this: if you do use any part of this interview, where I’m saying it’s a good movie you need to see, don’t take as “oh it’s one of those films”. Because it is entertaining, when I say it’s a movie you need to see, I’m saying that from a soul place, from your soul and it’s going to touch you in places, that no film out right now can touch you in this way. Looking at where we are as a country, it reminds you how we’ve come as far as we’ve come. Push through with love, not with hate. Just as a people, you wouldn’t see how we are or the advancement that we’ve made if we didn’t always come back to love.

Let’s not copy what someone else has done, let us copy what our ancestors have done with love. And that’s the reason why I think it’s very important for people to see it and if you have daughters especially that of age to see an R rated film, 17-year-olds, 16-year-old, I’d say go with a friend, encourage them to go see it, for young girls to see how a young man should love them, how a father should love them. How they can walk with their heads high. Teyonah Parris has a wonderful line where she says, “don’t bow your head sister” and just the pride that we should have in everything in this story. You need to see this film because its food for the soul because it’s all about a message.”

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK Teaser Trailer (2018)

Official If Beale Street Could Talk Movie Teaser Trailer 2018 | Subscribe ➤ | KiKi Layne Movie Trailer | Release: 30 Nov 2018 | More Director Barry Jenkins’ ambitious follow-up to Moonlight adapts James Baldwin’s poignant novel about a woman fighting to free her falsely accused husband from prison before the birth of their child.

If Beale Street Could Talk is set to release November 30th. 

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