*Regina King was born and raised in Los Angeles where she started her showbiz career on the stage at an early age.
That exposure led to a role on the sitcom “227” while just 14. Five years later, she made her screen debut as Shalika in fellow, USC alum John Singleton’s Boyz n the Hood.
Since then, the attractive actress’ services have remained in demand as a romantic lead opposite everyone from Jamie Foxx in Ray to Will Smith in Enemy of the State to Chris Rock in Down to Earth to Eddie Murphy in Daddy Day Care to to Cuba Gooding, Jr. in Jerry Maguire to Laz Alonso in This Christmas.
Regina recently moved back to the small screen where she can currently be found as LAPD Detective Lydia Adams on Southland (scroll down to watch trailer), a cop drama airing Tuesday nights at 10 PM (ET/PT) on TNT. Here, she talks not only about her work on the raw-edged, cops series but about her life and career as well.
Kam Williams: Hi, Regina, thanks for the time.
Regina King: Oh, thanks for making the time.
KW: What interested you in Southland?
RK: Well, I was already a fan of [writer/producer] Ann Biderman’s work, and when I read the script, I really got excited about the prospect of playing a woman who was complex, not just a one-dimensional character defined by her children or her husband. What makes Lydia Adams interesting isn’t her children or her husband, but the fact that she’s successful and driven and has a full range of emotions, which is indicative of most women between the ages of 35 and 45. So, I thought it would be cool to represent the sort of women that I know.
KW: Laz Lyles asks, whether you see Lydia as reflective of a recent trend towards stronger female characters on cop dramas?
RK: Yes, but the beautiful thing about actresses is each of us can put a different spin on that type of woman.
KW: The series just moved from NBC to TNT. Laz also asks if that shift is going to affect the content or the show’s fairly graphic tone?
RK: No, I don’t thing the show will necessarily be changing. But there might be fewer conversations back and forth between the network and the producers about toning it down, because TNT understood the nature of the show that they picked up.
KW: Watching the second season’s premiere episode, I was surprised how realistic the storyline was, revolving around the Latino versus black gang wars in L.A.
RK: All of our stories are based on real stories, actual events which have made the news in the city.
KW: Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks, to what do you credit your enduring career from 227 to Southland?
RK: I have to give a lot of credit to my mom, who decided to send me to a regular public high school where I ran track and went to football games. So, I got to do the normal things that kids do.
KW: I noticed that some classmates from your graduating class have also fared well in showbiz.
RK: Yeah, [director] Tim Story… [jazz pianist] Eric Reed… there are definitely some of us out there.
KW: Speaking of high school, teacher Eric Daniels asks, how have you managed to stay so busy?
RK: Oh, I don’t know. [Chuckles] Luck, I guess. And by always being prepared, so that when an opportunity comes along, I can take it. I think that’s the short answer.
KW: You’ve played the leading lady opposite a lot of great actors. Which one was your favorite screen husband or lover?
RK: I can’t say. Each one had something that made them appealing. Chris Rock was awesome to talk to and funny at the same time. Eddie Murphy was surprisingly different, in a good way, from what I had anticipated. With Will Smith, it was very refreshing to be around someone who’s so excited about what he does. I’m sure that if he worked for the Sanitation Department, he’d be enthusiastic about how he throws out the trash. He fully commits to whatever he’s doing. And Jamie Foxx was like a walking TV, entertaining all the time.
KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would? If so, please answer it.
RK: I don’t think so.
KW: I have a question from Laz Alonso, another one of your romantic co-stars: How can your fans help you?
RK: By going to TNT.com and leaving a message about how much they like the show, if they do genuinely enjoy it. And by going to Facebook and Twitter and telling all their friends to watch the show. That would be very helpful.
KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
RK: Of course, I am. Most of us are. Those who say they aren’t are lying.
KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?
RK: Ooh, I know all these people asking questions. Yes, I’m very happy! I’m healthy… I’ve got a healthy, wonderful, 13 year-old son who’s a good person. I’m happy!
KW: The Boris Kodjoe question: What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?
RK: I’d say my son who is such a sweet person. He’s very polite. He opens doors for women. He removes his hat in restaurants, indoors in general, and whenever he’s introduced to a woman. So, I must be doing something right.
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
RK: I see somebody that’s happy.
KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
RK: Maybe about three hours ago, on a plane. I have one of those every day.
KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What are you listening to on your iPod?
RK: Gosh, what’s the last thing I downloaded? I really like Q-Tip’s album “The Renaissance,” and I’m still listening to Adele. And I’m a huge Maxwell fan. And on the plane, I was listening to Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue.”
KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
RK: That’s a good question, because I cook a lot! I had two couples over before Christmas for a dinner party where I made seafood lasagna, butternut squash soup and a walnut-pear-endive salad. And I made some caramel pecan ice cream for dessert.
KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
RK: Carrie Fisher’s memoir “Wishful Drinking.”
KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
RK: I guess opening Christmas presents, when my parents were still together.
KW: How do you want to be remembered?
RK: As a woman who tried her hardest and her best at everything she did.
KW: Well, thanks again, Regina, and best of luck with Southland on TNT
RK: Thanks, Kam.
Watch the trailer for ‘Southland’: