A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about attending a book reading/signing with author ReShonda Tate Billingsley. Obviously, I was quite taken with Billingsley, but I remember that on my walk home my mind became occupied with another remarkable black woman she mentioned during her talk: Regina King.
I found it awesome that King is making her feature-length directorial debut by adapting one of Billingsley’s novels. Black women working with and supporting each other will always be a beautiful thing to me. However, as I walked, it occurred to me that we should love King for many other reasons.
I don’t think it occurs to us that King is actually a child star. We all remember her as Brenda from 227, but as an adolescent, I don’t think she was really seen as child, especially as a black female teen. I used to enjoy the show even if I only watched it because it was on, but when you’re young, you latch yourself on to the person who most reminds you of yourself. In that case, it was Brenda.
I don’t think I figured King to be someone who would have a successful film and television career for nearly 30 years, but she has indeed done it. Part of the reason is probably because she has managed to reinvent herself so effortlessly so many times. I remember an interview in which she stated she took all kinds of roles and she had to change her image as she evolved as an actress. She was the braided “ghetto girl” in films like Boyz in the Hood and Poetic Justice. However, as she grew older, she transitioned to roles in which she plays the dominating but supportive wife. I don’t think she gets enough credit for the roles she had in Jerry Maguire and Enemy of the State.
She returned to television with roles in shows like 24 and Southland, which further expanded the roles she gets to play. Of course, I love her to pieces as the voices of Huey and Riley Freeman on The Boondocks. Now I’m glad to see she has turned her attention to work behind the camera as well.
I also feel it is significant to point out that King’s life as a child star makes her success even more remarkable. We hear so many stories about the ones who go wrong, but how many times do we acknowledge the ones who manage to stay on track without a huge public fall? There’s nothing wrong with derailing every once in a while as all people are fallible, but King has been a professional for years now. She deserves some credit for keeping a steady career in an industry that is not very subtle about its hostilities toward black women.
I’m looking forward to seeing her adaptation of Let the Church Say Amen even though this type of film is usually not my cup of tea. I want her to succeed as a director and continue her career as an actress. Right now, I’m going to praise her long-lasting career.