In a frank discussion with fellow filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood, the ‘One Night in Miami’ director — who has been thrust into the awards conversation a year after claiming her best supporting actress Oscar — opens up about ambition, success and how best to use her megaphone.
There was no pre-Zoom huddle about wardrobe, yet fellow filmmakers Regina King and Gina Prince-Bythewood both pipe in virtually on an early February afternoon, sporting sweatshirts embossed with phrases appropriate to the conversation they would have.
Prince-Bythewood’s reads: “A credit to my people.”
“We’ve got to remind ourselves,” says Prince-Bythewood, from her home in Los Angeles.
“Exactly,” offers the One Night in Miami director, also in L.A., before borrowing a line from renowned writer James Baldwin: “Our crown has already been bought and paid for, all we have to do is wear it.”
Prince-Bythewood, 51, has ostensibly signed on to interview King, 50, an Oscar- and Emmy-winning actress turned first-time feature director with the Amazon Studios drama, but it very quickly becomes a back-and-forth about everything from the politics of ambition to the challenges of raising Black sons. The two have known each other casually for years — in fact, it was the Old Guard director who recommended King’s One Night in Miami directory of photography, Tami Reiker — but they’ve grown considerably closer during the pandemic. They’re both a part of what is now a standing Saturday Zoom gathering with an enviable group of Black female artists who converse about anything and everything, according to its participants.
Still, the opportunity for something a little more intimate presented itself on this day because, once again, King has been thrust into the awards conversation. After more than three decades in front of the camera, her breakthrough came with back-to-back roles in 2018’s If Beale Street Could Talk and 2019’s Watchmen, which earned King her first Oscar and fourth Emmy, respectively, and the full attention of the industry. She followed up by moving behind the lens, directing an adaptation of Kemp Powers’ stage imagining of conversations among four prominent Black men — Cassius Clay, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X — for Amazon. Her deft handling of the material scored widespread praise and could, if all goes right, make her the first Black female directing nominee at April’s Academy Awards.
So, fittingly, Prince-Bythewood, whose other directorial credits include Love & Basketball and Beyond the Lights, kicked off the hourlong chat with a discussion of Black excellence. — LACEY ROSE
Read the whole interview/article in our press library.
And now the gallery has also HQ stills from Regina’s SNL episode. Enjoy!
Saturday Night Live uploaded clips from yesterday’s episode with host Regina King. Take a look and enjoy!
Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for Regina King’s debut hosting the Saturday Night Live.
Below is a preview of the episode.
“One Night in Miami” director Regina King carries a jump rope to set, keeping it in her backpack until those particularly tense moments when everything goes haywire behind the scenes — like when an actor needs a pep talk, the crew has a tech issue or the weather shuts down production. In these instances, the filmmaker breaks out the jump rope for a two-minute surge of oxygen to keep her head in the game.
“I like to call myself a control enthusiast,” King says, explaining how she’s adapted her working style from actor to the director managing the set. “Going into it, I’m like ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ But it’s terrifying at first. You’re always up against the clock. A question needs to be answered by you. And you still have to stay focused and, even if something changes, you have to come up with a solution. You still want to stay the course.”
In conversation for Variety’s “Directors on Directors” series, King and “Queen and Slim” director Melina Matsoukas share how their make-it-work attitudes have paid dividends as they crafted their feature directorial debuts.
“When you’re in it, I really feel like it’s a mental war. You’re fighting for every shot, for every moment, for everything,” Matsoukas notes. “It’s not easy, it’s not for the weak.”
King’s piece of historical fiction centered on four of history’s most legendary men — Malcolm X, Jim Brown, Cassius Clay and Sam Cooke — and Matouskas’ romantic drama about two young people on the run after a traffic stop gone bad, have a few obvious connections. Both films are about legacy, community and are love letters to Black people, but that’s not the only reasons that the films are alike.
It’s also not just because Matsoukas is an exec producer on HBO’s “Insecure,” for which King directed the Season 3 finale “Ghost-like.” Ultimately, King and Matsoukas belong to a special order of visual storytellers: Black women taking charge behind the scenes and working to make a way for those to come after them.
Regina King snags a nomination for the 2021 Golden Globes as Best Director – Motion Picture for “One Night in Miami”
Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”)
David Fincher, “Mank” (Netflix)
Regina King, “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
Aaron Sorkin, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)
Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)
The 78th Golden Globe Awards are set to happen on February 28, 2021. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they are airing later than usual time. Best of luck to Regina!
Regina King visited (in person) James Corden to promote “One Night in Miami”. Take a look at some HQ stills and the video of the interview!