LITTLE WHITE LIES When R&B singer Jaheim asked Regina King to be the leading lady in a music video in 2010, she flexed her neat negotiating skills: If I'm in it, let me direct it! There was just one problem — King had never written a video treatment before.
"(Jaheim) put me on the phone with the people from Atlantic (Records), so they were like, 'Have you ever written a treatment before?' And the tone in which they asked the question just said to me, if I have not, they're not going to be OK with this. So I was like, 'Sure,'" King recalled. "And I hate liars and I was being one in that moment, but I knew that I needed this and so I guess I won't say lie, I was acting like I could. I was acting like I did."
She immediately called her friends in the industry like director Tim Story and writer-producer Dwayne Johnson-Cochran, who sent her treatments she could work off of. The video for "Finding My Way Back" helped the song achieve success on radio and reached No. 12 on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart. The song, co-written by fellow R&B star Miguel (then unknown), earned two Grammy nominations.
King went on to direct another music video — Kelly Price's Grammy-nominated "Not My Daddy" — giving her enough experience to then move on to TV. Her directing credits include episodes of "This Is Us," ''Insecure," ''The Good Doctor," ''Shameless," ''Scandal" and more.
"When we were in Palm Springs (Spike Lee) was like, 'How many hours of TV have you directed?' I stopped and thought about it and kind of counted and told him and he was like, 'Oh you are ready for your film now,'" King said.
GOLDEN WORDS Regina King, who pledged that anything she produces in the next two years will be made by 50 percent women during her Golden Globes speech last month, has a few words for the naysayers. "I even read some Bloomberg article after I'd challenged myself with that saying how ridiculous it was for me to say that or impossible. For those of us that are hustlers and like challenges, that's all we need. 'Oh you think it's impossible? Watch me work,'" she said. "It feels like it's going to be difficult, but it's never felt impossible because I had examples right there with John Ridley and Damon Lindelof putting women in positions of power on their productions. And Ava DuVernay and what she did with 'Queen Sugar.'"
King was praised for using her speech to draw attention to the all-too-often back seats women take in Hollywood and beyond. "Even though it wasn't quite planned ... I knew I was going to say something. But the spirit was just like, 'Say it!' You hear my voice, I was like, 'Oh God, I'm saying it. It's happening,'" she said.
LOOKING TO THE PAST Regina King said she doesn't watch old episodes of "227," the show that gave her a breakthrough when it ran for five seasons from 1985 to 1990 on NBC. But she appreciates how playing the role of Brenda Jenkins launched her acting career.
"227 was priceless for me. It was my foundation. I would not be here without it," she said. "Just being with Marla Gibbs, Hal Williams, Alaina Reed, Jackee — it was school." LOOKING TO THE FUTURE Though "Beale Street" marks Regina King's return to the big screen, she is heading back to TV to star in HBO's "Watchmen," debuting sometime this year.
But King has two other roles she'd love to play or produce in the future. "I want to be a part of a story that is an original story — it's not the black version of — that is multi-generational. So many of us — I'm just going to speak as a woman — just my mother, my grandmother, myself and our relationship and how beautiful it is and how many other relationships I've seen that are multigeneration — they've had crazy challenges that they overcame them and were estranged, and they came back together. We get to see that in stories in white families, but we don't see that for our own."
King, 48, also said she'd love to act in love story with the backdrop being World War II or another historic event. "This age is really great because you're young enough that people still look at you as sexy, but you are mature enough that you've gotten enough wisdom to express and make a performance more layered and go deeper," she said.
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