“Girls Trip” star Regina Hall tells the New York Times in an exclusive new interview that this current phase of her career “feels like a culmination” and that she “didn’t always want to be the auxiliary character.”
But now, with roles in Showtime’s Wall Street satire “Black Monday” and the highly anticipated film comedy “Little,” with Issa Rae as well as a “Shaft” sequel this summer, the award-winning actress says she’s “potentially in a position where I could become more of a force.”
Read excerpts from her Q&A with the publication below.
The industry is treating you differently now than it used to, but it’s not as if you’re more talented than you were, say, five years ago. Is that disconnect — between where your career is and where your skill level has always been — hard to wrap your head around?
“Girls Trip” made a lot of money, which matters, and then the critics were so responsive to “Support the Girls.” It’s weird. I’ve always had steady work, but I guess there are lists in Hollywood. I was on the top of one before; now I’m on the bottom of a more difficult one.
How would you characterize the difference between those lists?
There are certain films with predominantly black casts. The list of who’s considered for parts in those is a whole different one than the list of who’s considered for films with roles that could be played by anybody. I remember there was a script that I read that I loved, and my agent told me, “They went after Amy Adams, and she’s not doing it.” And I said, “I’ll do it!” And he was like, “They love you, but they’re going to Natalie Portman.” “Oh, right.” There’s always another.
I was listening to you on Michael Rapaport’s podcast, and you two had a digression about navigating black Hollywood. In terms of your own career, how does black Hollywood diverge from and intersect with Hollywood writ large?
We have a support system. I was once with my business manager, I don’t remember where, and somebody was looking at me. I said, “They probably recognize me.” My manager goes, “Why would you say that?” “They’re black.” “What does that mean?” “It means they’ve seen the movies!” Black audiences are what I’ve considered my base, and I will always make movies for that base.
I imagine there’s a difference between the fans who come up to you quoting “Scary Movie” and the ones asking about Ace Boogie.
Yeah, three little white boys quoted the “Scary Movie” line about “Imma [expletive] on these walls” to me once. They were like 11 years old! I felt horrible. Like, this is what I’m putting into the world?
Some of the negative stereotypes about black women as hypersexualized or overly demonstrative that you parodied as Brenda in “Scary Movie” are the same stereotypes that easily could have sunk “Girls Trip” but that the film transcended so beautifully. Were you thinking at all about those parallels?
What we wanted to show in “Girls Trip,” more than anything about black women, was how women talk. I have friends of all races. My white girlfriends say “dick,” too. It’s like, remember that movie “Prime”?
With Edward Norton?
No, that’s “Primal Fear.” “Prime” was with Uma Thurman and Meryl Streep.
Oh, yeah. Where Uma Thurman dates the younger guy and Meryl Streep plays the guy’s mother?
Yes! What I loved about that movie was that it was honest about dating when there’s an age difference, but it was also culturally specific, because the mother was Jewish. We represented black women specifically in “Girls Trip,” because the cast was black, but the big thing was making sure that the movie resonated with all women.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever heard Tiffany Haddish say?
Tiffany, Jesus. “Girls Trip” was hours of, “What did you just say, Tiffany?” I remember her talking about how her dog likes her belly rubbed and how that was “like dog, like Mama.” I won’t even go into it.
You’re friends with both Tiffany and Sanaa Lathan. So tell me the truth: Was Tiffany serious when she implied Sanaa bit Beyoncé?
Let me tell you something: I could tap your leg with my foot and Tiffany would retell it as me kicking you. She’s a comedian. She can make a story, know what I mean? That whole thing took on a life of its own.
Read the full interview here.