Sat | Sep 26, 2020

Regina is already a King, but what about president?

Published:Sunday | February 17, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Actress Regina King, nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in “If Beale Street Could Talk”.


So, Regina King walked into a 99-cent store. And what did she get? A prophecy on her life.

No joke. King was shopping around – “sometimes people will say, ‘You at the 99-cent store?’ I like a bargain too” – when a woman walked up to her with something of a prediction.

“She said, ‘You don’t know it, but you’re going to run for president.’ And I was like, ‘President of a company?’ She was like, ‘No ... of the United States,’” King recalled, adding that she thought the woman was a clairvoyant.

“She said, ‘Close your eyes. You are. I see it,’” King continued. “I was like, ‘Girl, I appreciate that, but no – that’s not happening. I like my life too much. I like my family too much. I like my friends too much.”

The idea of King, 48, running for president isn’t too far-fetched. Rather, it’s not a stretch for people to jokingly ask her to. The seasoned actress is one of the most likable and genial celebrities in the industry and one that fans and peers are constantly rooting for. Remember Taraji P. Henson happily screaming at the top of her lungs when King won her first Emmy in 2015?

King has picked up two more Emmys since, earning acclaim and praise for her riveting roles in John Ridley’s anthology American Crime and Netflix’s Seven Seconds, where King stunned on-screen as the mother of a son killed by the police.

Now, King is hitting new heights with her first big-screen role since 2010. Her portrayal of a devoted mother in Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk already won her honours at the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards. She’s up for Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards, pitting her against Oscar winners Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz; Amy Adams, a six-time Oscar nominee; and first-time Marina de Tavira, who co-starred in Roma.

King called the nomination “extra-special” since it’s her first. The film is also competing for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score at the Oscars on February 24.

King has shone on-screen since she appeared on NBC’s 227 in 1985. Her credits include films like Jerry MaguireFriday, RayBoyz n the HoodEnemy of the State, and Miss Congeniality 2.

But King traded movie roles for TV ones so that she could easily raise her son – her regular date at awards show – in Los Angeles: “I wasn’t interested in home-schooling my son.”

“I had the conversation with my team,” she said, “and they felt like TV was going to be the best space for me to live in.”

She landed a starring role in TNT’s Southland in 2009, playing Detective Lydia Adams – a part originally not written for a black woman.

“Everyone at the agency had been put on notice, ‘Do not treat Regina King like a black actor. She is an actor,’” King said. “I hadn’t even quite seen it that way, but that’s what they felt. It kind of started with Legally Blonde 2. That was the reach out, like, ‘You know what, why don’t you guys consider Regina King?’”

More TV roles came to her, including The Big Bang TheoryShamelessAmerican CrimeThe Leftovers, and Seven Seconds – all while film stars turned to TV and found success, from Nicole Kidman to Matthew McConaughey to Viola Davis. Even Meryl Streep is heading to the so-called “small screen”.

“I think of myself as a trailblazer for film actors going to television,” King said.

But still, she’s not running for president.

“When you make the choice to be in the public’s eye, you are letting go of anonymity. You’re letting go of some things that you want to hold dear and protect. ... For a president, that’s on level 9 million,” she said. “I am all here for sacrifices, but not that one.”