By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.
Among the five actresses nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Regina King is the only one who also holds “TV Director” among her occupations. Indeed, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Marina de Tavira and Amy Adams are—dare I say—mere actresses—all playing the parts for which they were chosen.
Among other accolades, King has been in the business since 1985, when she first appeared as Brenda Jenkins in the American sitcom “227.” I stress the word American, because in my opinion King is living the American dream—but this dream was borne out of the “reality” that she culled together as she assuredly sat under the tutelage—whether she realized it or not—of great African-American actors and actresses, among them Paul Winfield, Marla Gibbs, Hal Williams, Helen Martin, Alaina Reed Hall and Jackee Harry—all co-stars in “227.”
It seems as though she immersed herself in all their years of combined experience and wrote her own dream. Now, it’s to be noted that King has been active in her craft since 1985, while, according to Wikipedia, Stone’s involvement came nearly 20 years later in 2004. Weisz’ film stone was first turned in 1992; Adams’ in 1994 and de Tavira’s in 1998.
King has delivered searing performances in a variety of feature films, including Boyz n the Hood, If Beale Street Could Talk, Poetic Justice, Jerry Maguire, Enemy of the State and Ray, among others.
Her television work includes Shameless, Southland, American Crime and Seven Seconds, among others. These incredible performances have earned King three Primetime Emmy Awards for American Crime and Seven Seconds.
And here she comes again, with a stellar turn in If Beale Street Could Talk.
I’m trying to keep this short, but King’s body of work is not to be ignored or shortchanged. In addition to directing episodes of huge television vehicles such as This Is Us, Being Mary Jane, The Good Doctor and Scandal, among others, King has also directed music videos.
And this brings us to If Beale Street Could Talk. Her role as Sharon Rivers, a mom who is trying to save not only the future of her daughter, but the life of her pregnant daughter’s fiancé, who has been accused of rape, is outstanding. King takes this role based on a book by the esteemed Civil Rights activist and novelist James Baldwin and delivers yet another powerful performance. She holds court in her living room in Harlem when others are trying to judge her family and she bravely confronts the attorney who holds a key to her bid to implore the rape victim to testify that her future son-in-law is innocent. She keeps her family together in the midst of all the drama and uncertainty.
The scene where she travels to Puerto Rico and at turns harshly and softly begs the victim to recall events and set the record straight will have you on the edge of your seat—rallying for both her and the victim.
It’s time for audiences all over the country, and the world for that matter, to stop squirming in their seats through another awards presentation. Give the “Queen” Regina King her just desserts. She deserves this Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Her nearly 35 years in the business is the playbook that says that she has won this acting game.
Let her party and revel in this joyous win and get on to additional impressive work.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is the Entertainment Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. She is also the author of “Old School Adventures from Englewood—South Side of Chicago.”