This King Thrives as a
Leader
andProtector

BY: R. F. TERRY

Regina King’s amber eyes glisten with a combination of whimsy and fortitude that assures us the safest route anywhere is to follow her lead.
In the spotlight for more than three decades, King has evolved from eternal sitcom teenager to winner of four Emmys and an Academy Award. Already a seasoned director of critically acclaimed television series, King continues to grow as an artist with her feature film directorial debut, “One Night in Miami...”.

King, who radiates regal warmth and authority, once feared being typecast as a sassy sister-girl stereotype. Today she wears the mantle of leader and protector — whether as masked vigilante in an alternate history or director of a knockout film.
King joined the project because it gave her the opportunity to explore and respect four cast-iron cultural icons “beyond and behind their iconic images.”

“I felt like I knew them,” she says. “They’re all Black men and they all have these similar experiences as far as the regard that America has for them.” King was impressed at writer Kemp Powers’ ability to touch on their emotional sides while allowing them to exude strength, with dialogue that “just punched me in the gut.” As such, King presents them as flesh-and-blood humans, not chiseled in stone.

“The thing that actually makes them strong is vulnerability,” says King, who explains that we’re witnessing a moment in time when “they’re all getting hit on the chin.”

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Watch director Regina King and her team reveal how they re-created history and conjured visual excitement, even for scenes that take place inside a small motel room.

“It’s those moments where you are experiencing fear and you push through it,” she adds, that are at the heart of conflict and resolution. That dynamic also applies to her principal players. “As actors, when we’re going into something especially big, we’re always feeling vulnerable, like we’re naked.”
Says Aldis Hodge, the film’s Jim Brown: “We’re lucky as actors because she is coming from an actor’s foundation first. She understands what our process is, what we go through, and how we are thinking.”

Which takes us back to her role as leader and protector, with the knowledge that creating a safe place for her performers is paramount. “Because I am an actor,” says King, “I have so much respect and understanding of the journey that an actor has to go on to get a certain emotion.”

A large part of that process is communication, and approaching each actor in a way that works best for them. “Trying to be sensitive to that is a bit of psychology as well when it comes to communicating,” she adds. “As an actor, you find a bit of yourself in that character and that’s what keeps a performance anchored.”

Ultimately, King views the film as a love letter to Black men. “It’s so honest,” she says, “it’s so raw, it’s so quiet – and it’s so loud.”

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