To say Emmy-Award winning actress Regina King was inspiring and motivating at the 2018 Black Women’s Expo is a pretty big understatement. Our favorite homegirl-in-our-head added even more #BlackGirlMagic to the already amazing three-day event in Atlanta the weekend of August 10th. While the city served as the second stop for the event’s three-city tour, I like to think it was something extra special thanks to King.
A Perfect Theme: “She Matters”
This year’s She Matters theme was a perfect fit as the conference certainly lived up to its name. And I was really honored to speak with King during the hustle and bustle of the conference just before she took the Main Stage as the keynote speaker. It’s safe to say she agreed that the event was just what women of color needed in today’s culture.
“It’s exciting,” said King. “First of all, just to be asked to come. To think that I have a bunch of sisters that are really interested in what I have to say, that’s very heartwarming.”
She went on to clap it up for the Black Women’s Expo founder, Merry Green, who continues to make the conference a staple in the African-American community, especially in Atlanta.
“This city in particular is unique because I think there are more Black women businessowners in this city than any other city,” added King. “This is a perfect place for [Ms. Green] to expand. So to be the person that’s a part of the expansion, it feels kind of cool. Like I’m a part of something at the beginning, in its beginning stage.”
It’s no secret that King has continued to embody everything that African-American women strive for from her days on 227 to her current projects, which are never short of anything amazing.
“I like the way my career is going,” she said. “I feel like there’s nothing I look back on, or wish I didn’t do, or am embarrassed about. I feel like I’ve always looked to do roles that interest me as an audience member. It’s great that the audience agrees that it’s something interesting because they’re tuning in. So I’m thankful.”
As for what she’s working on next (because we all know that she stays working), King has made it clear in more ways than one that she’s not slowing down anytime soon.
“’She stays getting a check…’ I hear people say that all the time,” King laughed. “I want to always be that way. Right now I’m producing and directing, developing projects, and a couple more shows that hopefully will be bought by ABC. Right now, my writer is writing what will be my first film that I’ll direct next year. I’ll be back in Atlanta pretty soon to finish shooting the series Watchmen. So I’m excited about that.”
King brought that same energy to the main stage when she dropped even more jewels for hundreds of women who were waiting with anticipation. She reiterated how important it was for her to stay true to herself and not take on any projects that she would later regret, even when it comes to how her characters are portrayed.
Creating Your Own Lane
We all remember that hilarious scene in This Christmas when she used baby oil to get back at her cheating husband. That actually wasn’t originally in the script. Her character was supposed to be really emotional and kick him out of her mom’s house. King wasn’t having that. She said she literally changed the script into what we now know as the baby oil scene, which one of her best friends did to her now ex-husband when they were in their 20s.
I also love how she told the women to hold their applause when they started to cheer after she said she steered clear of roles that required nudity. She pointed out the women who did take on those roles shouldn’t value themselves any less. She just recognized they weren’t for her. Can you say gracious?
She also added that she truly loves to celebrate other Black women winning in Hollywood. Yes, there were times she was disappointed when she didn’t land a what she thought would be a dream role that one of her sisters in acting got instead. But after seeing the final products, she knew they were perfect the role. One of those was actually Low Down Dirty Shame. Who knew she read for Jada Pinkett’s part and was paired with Jennifer Lopez? While neither her or J. Lo got the role, King said she couldn’t see anyone other than Pinkett starring in that movie.
King went on to say she had to remind herself she mattered when it came to the obvious pay gap in Hollywood. It’s no secret Black women are pretty much at the bottom of the totem pole. She conquered this challenge when she decided not to take on any multi-year deals that would stick her in a contract that didn’t ultimately benefit her. She also decided years ago to never take on any jobs that weren’t in Hollywood so she could work close to her son, which is why we see her on television now much more than in movies. She put herself in a position where she could afford to walk away from roles that wouldn’t give her a work-life balance.
Lastly, she left the women with this note:
“As you grow up and glow up, surround yourself with different people. People who care about your stability.”