Award-winning actress Regina King is one of a kind. Unlike many Black actresses, she has been able to escape the mold of playing only select and stereotypical characters, and has held diverse roles starring opposite Sandra Bullock in the comedy Miss Congeniality 2, Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire, Ice Cube in Friday and she can even be heard as the voice of Riley and Huey Freeman on the animated series The Boondocks, among other projects.
Currently, King stars as Detective Lydia Adams on TNT’s drama Southland. Reflecting on her successes that began at the age of 9, which included her first “big gig” as Brenda on 227, she said she doesn’t take any of the roles she's had for granted.
"I couldn’t do it by myself," King told BET.com. "I know I’m blessed."
On Tuesday night, King was honored for her accomplishments at BET Networks’ Leading Women Defined conference in Washington, D.C. as the featured guest during the event’s dinner. Standing alongside legendary women, who included Susan Taylor and Cicely Tyson, she said she was almost in disbelief she was chosen as the featured guest and later interviewed by MSNBC'S Tamron Hall.
“There are so many amazing women here. I have never been in the presence where every single woman that I encounter is pretty much close to amazing. I’ve never had this experience before so I’m so full that I almost feel like [the featured guest] should be somebody else,” she said.
Those attending the conference praised King’s successes. Though each of the attendees are successful in their own fields, throughout the three days the women raved about their favorite King movies, recognized how humble she is and BET Networks Chairman and CEO Debra Lee even admitted her “girl crush” on the star.
What’s next for the actress? King said she will use her more than 20-year experience in Hollywood and prepare to direct her first film.
“This is really big for me, and I am moving outside of my comfort zone,” she said. “I’ve learned over these past few days, whenever you’re doing anything that falls in the category of a career change, it can be exciting and scary at the same time.”
When it comes to reality TV and “ordinary people” trying to become "stars" from foolish drama, King admits that she watches them, too, but she doesn’t relate as an actress. She calls what has been created as “unfortunate and mind boggling." Cast members of reality TV are recognized as "celebrities," but these "stars" made their way by not much more than TV viewers “rubbernecking,” she said.
As for people who are interested in becoming a professional actress or entertainer, King said, “be prepared to hear no, but don’t let that detour you from achieving your dream."
She added, “I think everything I do is meant for me. I’ve auditioned for other parts and didn’t get the part and then I see the movie or the show and say, 'That wasn’t for me at all. It was definitely for that actress.'"
After years of experience and a career in entertainment, it may be safe to say that some of the rejection King received early on was to her benefit later, as she is now one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actresses.
For more on BET Networks’ Leading Women Defined Conference, visit www.BET.com/lwd.
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(Photo: Phelan Marc/BET)