Regina King seems to be on a Beyonce-like domination plan except in her case, there’s not that much singing and dancing. King, who started her career on the TV show 227 as a teenager, is acting, directing, producing and more these days. And she’s fresh off an Emmy nomination for her moving turn as Aliyah in American Crime, the well-reviewed John Ridley limited-run series for ABC.
She’ll be starring in the next season of American Crime as well, albeit in a completely different role that highlights a new crime. We caught up with King to talk about her theatrical directorial debut at the helm of the BET movie Let The Church Say Amen starring Power’s Naturi Naughton in a very different role that what she’s playing in the Starz drama.
In the movie, which also stars Lela Rochon and The Game’s Hosea Chanchez, Naughton plays a preacher’s daughter trying to get her life on the right track.
We talked to King about the movie and more.
You’re doing it all these days. Was that a plan? What made you want to be behind the camera?
It is a plan. It was a plan in motion as we speak. I’ve been doing this for some time. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned about different aspects of the TV/filmmaking industry. When you are person that regards themselves as a student of life, maybe not so strong in the classroom setting but in the life spaces, you soak things in and you find yourself developing interests in other areas and directing/producing was a natural kind of shoot for me. I realized early on that the director is in control of more things than the actor and I admit that I’m one of those that likes to be in control (laughs). I’ve been wanting to do it for about 10 years now and 6-7 years ago, I started saying it out loud.
Tell me about the first theatrical feature Let The Church Say Amen. You certainly had some good talent on this film, with Naturi, Hosea, Lela…
I’d say that any first-time director of a project that is a passion project that you’ve been developing for quite some time, you just hope and pray that you get great talent to help you tell the story and bring these things to life. You just hope you get the talent to trust you. When you’re a first time anything, you don’t always get the chance to work with people at the top of their game because they don’t know your skills. So to have those actors trust me and allow me to direct them, it’s a first time director’s dream.
Congratulations on your well-deserved Emmy nomination. Can you tell us anything about the next season of American Crime?
Thank you for the congrats. It’s very exciting to go in to Season 2 with a whole new light, so to speak. I’m playing the mother of a star basketball player at a very prestigious prep school in Indianapolis. I’m a very successful six-figure pharmaceutical executive and my husband, played by Andre Benjamin is a very successful architect. This is a family that is like the Cosby’s, but this is not comedy. This is family that has worked hard to get where they are. We’ve worked hard to get things and maybe our children are not as aware about what it took to get there. We’re faced with a very hardcore situation and we’ll see how they get through that..or not.
You are among the most prolific child stars that have never had any public missteps. To what do you attribute your ability to avoid those kind of issues?
I’ve made some missteps and some of them have been public. I’ve survived them but I think one of the things where I was lucky is I came up during the time there were no camera cell phones. If I said something that may not have been the smartest thing to say, when I was coming up the chances of it reaching worldwide or nationwide just didn’t exist. I think with a lot of young people today, they have the mentality of a young person coming up which is a natural place to be but they forget that they are watching and waiting for you to do exactly that.
I think just having a family that this whole industry stuff took a backseat to real life and showing up. My mother’s always said Good manners go a long way. You’ve never know who you’re going to come back and see in your life. And that’s happened. There’s so many people who have employed me that remembered me 20 years ago from a certain situation and a certain time with me on a set. And they said ‘When I do this, I’m going to come back and work with her. ‘ And they did. I think I come from some pretty good stock.