For three decades, Academy Award–winning actor Regina King has captivated audiences on screen. Now, with her feature directorial debut, ‘One Night in Miami,’ she takes on a defining new role.
One day this past spring, Regina King began carving out a roughly 5-by-20-foot plot of soil behind her home in Los Angeles to plant some seeds. She got the idea from a friend, fellow actor Anthony Anderson, who’d shown her pictures of his meticulously cultivated garden and thus inspired her to start her own. It’s a pastime that requires patience. But this was in the throes of collective isolation, when everyone frantically sought out hobbies, and there was time to sit and watch grass grow.
Every day, in between binge-watching shows like Ozark and Kim’s Convenience, King, 49, would tend to her crops, the reward for which was three yields of several types of kale, as well as tomatoes, jalapeño and serrano peppers and onions—ingredients she used to make large amounts of salsa. Now that she’s tried her hand at horticulture—a suitable end-of-the-world skill—her new fantasy is to purchase two or three acres of property, she says: “Just enough for me to live off the land.”
After three-plus decades on-screen, King had her breakthrough lead role, in 2019’s Watchmen; and this year she directed her first feature film, One Night in Miami, an adaptation of playwright Kemp Powers’s 2013 stage imagining of conversations between four Black legends. Now, after years of momentum, an expansive body of work in film and television as an actor, director and producer, and numerous awards, she is regarded as one of Hollywood’s most dynamic creators.
As an actress, Regina King has had an exceedingly busy couple of years. After an Oscar win for If Beale Street Could Talk in 2019, King won an Emmy for The Watchmen in September, and her film directorial debut, One Night in Miami — the first by a Black female director to be selected by the Venice Film Festival — premieres Dec. 25.
“I feel like this is the path I was supposed to be on,” says King, 49, one of PEOPLE Magazine’s People of the Year.
“I don’t necessarily see it as a renewed purpose. But I have a little more power now, in my choices, and in my ability to amplify a message,” she tells PEOPLE. “I have things I’m very passionate about. And I feel very lucky to be able to use my art and my voice collectively.”
Indeed, in addition to her powerful roles in front of and behind the camera (One Night in Miami is about a fictionalized meeting between Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown in 1964), King has spoken out about the importance of voting, especially when it comes to marginalized communities, and been vocal about her dismay at the division in the country.
“I don’t think that we would be at this reckoning that we are right now if the world wasn’t on pause [due to the pandemic],” says King. “We’re more sensitive to everything around us. And I have to believe that however far down the line we’ll be on the other side of this, we will be forced to consider other people’s differences.”
King made a pointed statement about the civil injustices on Emmy night, when she wore a shirt featuring the image of Breonna Taylor. “I had the opportunity to not wear a gown and … a chance to visually show why it’s so important to vote down the ballot,” she says. “How could I not use it?”
Moving forward, King, who says she doesn’t identify as a Republican or a Democrat (“I have a problem with sides,” she shares), the actress and activist says she remains cautiously optimistic about the future.
“I do believe in the good of humanity,” says King. “And I want us to be on the other side of us coming together as humankind. But we cannot become complacent. We still have to fight. We’re going to get more scraped knuckles and skinned knees. But after those wounds heal, we’ll have the beauty in the bruises.”
==== Check also the video interview excerpt from Regina’s cover in our video vault.
The gallery has been updated with HD screencaptures of Regina King in 2003 movie “Daddy Day Care”. Take a look and enjoy!
She won an Oscar just last year. Now she’s back in the hunt for her triumphant film debut behind the camera.
About 20 years into her acting career, one that started as a child actor on the ‘80s sitcom 227, Regina King realized she wanted more. Over the years, from supporting turns in films like Jerry Maguire and Ray to regular roles in TV series including 24 and Southland, she started to see the job of a director as more than just giving orders to actors and crew members. Once she said out loud that filmmaking was something she wanted to pursue for herself, it felt possible: “There were a lot of people who embraced that idea.”
Since 2013, the actress has won an Oscar and four Emmys for acting — all while carving out a side-gig as one of TV’s most sought-out directors, working on popular shows like Scandal, This Is Us, and Insecure. Although she’d prepared for her feature directorial-debut to be a comedy she’d developed with her sister, King eventually was led down a different path, towards One Night in Miami.
“I’m really interested in being able to tell a love story with a real historical event as the backdrop,” says King, 49, prefacing why she was drawn to Kemp Powers’ adaptation of his own 2013 play. The story takes place on the night in 1964 that boxer Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali) defeated Sonny Liston for the World Heavyweight Championship, and celebrated afterwards with activist Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke, and NFL star Jim Brown. King was floored by Powers’ creation: “[It] truly captures the conversation and the reflections of the Black man’s experience more than anything that I’ve ever seen.”
Collaborating with Powers also allowed King to focus on the visual elements of the film, as the writer had already done all the research that needed to be done to accurately portray the story on stage, and on film. “He was like the Kemp-orpedia,” King says with a laugh. “Any bit of research that I wanted to do, I didn’t have to spend as much time on Google, looking it up, because he’d already done it.”
When it came time to cast the four main roles in One Night in Miami, the director was in search of that same dedication: “I was looking for great actors who knew that they should be sleeping, breathing, drinking who they were playing every step of the way.” King found that in Eli Goree (Riverdale), Kingsley Ben-Adir (High Fidelity), Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton), and Aldis Hodge (The Invisible Man), who play Clay, X, Cooke, and Brown, respectively.
Read the full article/interview in our press library.
Regina King has survivor’s guilt.
Somehow, amid the relentless existential punishment of 2020, King is having one of the best years of a multidecade career in a business that can be notoriously unfriendly to Black women.
At the beginning of September, King became the first Black woman director in the 87-year history of the Venice Film Festival to have her work screened as part of the programming. Though it was not competing for a prize, One Night in Miami made its world premiere in Venice. King’s feature directorial debut is an adaptation of the Kemp Powers play of the same name, which follows Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown through a night of celebration, conflict, fellowship, and moral and political epiphany after Clay defeats Sonny Liston to claim the world heavyweight boxing championship title.
Weeks later, King accepted her fourth prime-time Emmy for playing Sister Night, a.k.a. Angela Abar, in HBO’s Watchmen, the brilliant, devastating miniseries “remix” of the much lauded comic series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. She accepted the Emmy for leading actress in a limited series in a striking fuchsia Schiaparelli pantsuit, soft curls piled atop her head. Under her blazer, she wore a T-shirt that bore Breonna Taylor’s face, accompanied by the words “SAY HER NAME.”
“Gotta vote,” she said, having accepted the Emmy statue from a trophy bearer dispatched by the Television Academy. “I would be remiss not to mention that, being part of a show as prescient as Watchmen. Have a voting plan.”
She ended her thank-yous, eyes bright, with a shout-out to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “Rest in power, RBG,” King said, fully acknowledging the swirl of anxiety-producing developments happening in the world.
Read the full article/interview in our press library.
The Oscar and Emmy Award-winning actress turned filmmaker has extended her partnership with luxury automaker Cadillac for its latest campaign, shot by Dee Rees.
Regina King made her way to the Oscar stage in 2019, accepting a best-supporting actress trophy for her work in If Beale Street Could Talk. Earlier this year, she returned to the big show to present an Oscar (to Brad Pitt) while also being featured during a commercial break courtesy of Cadillac to introduce the 2021 Cadillac Escalade and automaker’s “Make Your Way” campaign.
At the time, she said that she felt a real connection to Cadillac because, to her, it always represented success and “swagger.” That connection is continuing: Cadillac announced today that it has extended its partnership with King to serve as its new brand ambassador to help bring forth the newest Escalade and front its “Never Stop Arriving” campaign.
Launching in October, King collaborated with director Dee Rees and Oscar-nominated cinematographer Rachel Morrison on the campaign, said to reflect themes of bravery, resiliency and overcoming obstacles. News of the partnership is the latest bump of good business for King who just picked up yet another Emmy, this time for her work on HBO’s Watchmen. That followed the unveiling of her directorial debut One Night in Miami which was subsequently acquired by Amazon for distribution.
“This is a new era for Cadillac — fearless, innovative and one where we never stop pushing boundaries, and Regina King reflects all those facets and so much more” said Melissa Grady, Cadillac chief marketing officer. “King’s unique ability to defy convention and look toward the future are how we approach the opportunities ahead of us at Cadillac.”
For her part, King opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about how she approaches opportunities like the one with Cadillac, why she texted Emmys producer Reginald Hudlin after the show and how she’s processing the latest Breonna Taylor news.
Read the full interview in our press library.