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In Appreciation of Regina King

Kieran here to take a moment to praise the talents of the great underappreciated, enduring and (as of Sunday evening) Emmy-winning actress, Regina King. It was truly a wonderful moment when Taraji P. Henson, still reeling from that moment of Terrence Howard creepery, excitedly announced Regina King as the winner. The Emmys can often feel like a yearly recitation of the same list of names, but wins like Regina King's are what make awards shows that honor acting great. Like Melissa Leo or Octavia Spencer, it's always heartening to see hard working, talented and enduring character actresses finally get recognition.

My earliest memory of King was in Boyz N the Hood (227 is a little before my time) where she brought a welcome side-eye skepticism and levity to that male-centric outing, great as it was. I haven't seen the film in a couple of years, but her lines easily remain the most memorable and quotable. I feel similarly about her performance in Ray, a film that suffers from its trite biopic structure but comes to life most when King's Margie is on screen. She's consistently great, shoring up projects and roles that often don't deserve her, frankly.

King has worked steadily for the past three decades but prior to her nod for American Crime, she had never been nominated for an Emmy. Or a Golden Globe. Or a solo Screen Actors Guild Award (she was nominated with the cast of Ray in 2004). Or an Oscar. Given the breadth and longevity of King's career, this is a little shocking. She's clearly under-appreciated, even by me. I failed to cite her as one of my ten favorite Emmy nominees, though she was great on American Crime and wholly deserving of the win.

Hopefully seeing Regina King win an Emmy will prompt directors and producers, many of whom I'm sure she's already worked with (seriously...check out her IMDb. The woman never stops working) to unlock their imaginations about what she's capable of. She's shown her versatility in a wide range of genres and in roles of all sizes. The time has long passed for King to have her moment in a great leading role worthy of her talents.

What's your favorite Regina King performance? What director would you like to see her paired with? Discuss in the comments.

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Reader Comments (27)

I loved her as Janet Jackson's friend in Poetic Justice

September 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

My personal favourite performance of hers is in Southland, where I thought she put in superlative work. That Southland also featured career best and award worthy work from Lucy Liu makes me especially annoyed how that show never really found an audience even though it was on for 4 years. If King had gotten nominated for her work then as well as in American Crime it would have been fantastic.

September 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterF

John Singleton utilized her perfectly in their three consecutive films together.

September 23, 2015 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

She's hilarious in "Jerry Maguire." She creates a a fully-realized character in a brief amount of time and nails each line.

September 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBrendan

she rewon me over on SOUTHLAND. goodness she was great on that show. Love it when actors are like "no, sorry. you aint seen nuthin yet" and shame you for forgetting about them!

September 23, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I think I first saw her in 24. It was the lesser season right after the show won the Emmy. She had a small part but she is the most memortable thing about that season. She played Sandra, President Palmer's sister who was fighting for Muslim American civil rights. She was sincere and passionate and I thought King was terrific.

September 23, 2015 | Unregistered Commentertom

I've loved Regina King since 227, through Southland, with stops along the way for Friday, Higher Learning ('memba that?), Jerry Maguire, Ray, Year of the Dog, and even those twin sequel atrocities to original gems, Legally Blonde and Miss Congeniality. Can't wait to see her work in the new season of The Leftoevers!

September 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

227 (my mom never missed an episode when I was growing up, so the Brenda love is big here)
Boys N the Hood
Jerry Maguire
Big Bang Theory (I know - it's fluff, but she makes me laugh)

September 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

I was thrilled to see Regina win, I've been a fan for years and years. However I have to echo the posts above about Southland. An incredible show that should have brought Emmy recognition to several of its cast members but King was absolutely incredible (as was Michael Cudlitz). At least we were lucky that we had a few more seasons to enjoy after NBC dropped the show and TNT (if I remember correctly) picked it up. One of my Top 10 series of all time.

September 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGian

I don't have anything to add except YES. I hope more juicy roles are on the way!

September 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDusty

I'm ashamed that the first roles I think of hers are always the crappy sequels to Legally Blonde and Miss Congeniality. But she did well enough in those roles despite the crappy characters. (basically the same character minus occupations) But she's phenomenal in Southland. I guess I need to check out American Crime now.

September 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJonn

I must say I was rooting for Zoe Kazan but Regina King was close second.

American Crime is so good. I can't believe it lost the Emmy for Best Casting. Every actor nails their role. Felicity Huffman is spectacular.

September 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue


September 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMARK

Regina King should have more relevant characters in the future. When I watched Jerry Maguire for the first time she was by far my favorite character. In JM she shows a wide range of emotions, specially in the scene when she thinks his husband is hurt. She is sassy and moving.

September 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndres F.

I grew up watching her on 227 and have always marveled at how she (like Viola) can do so much with so little. That she wasn't Oscar-nominated for Ray is a crime; Jamie couldn't have carried the film if it weren't for her (as well as Sharon Warren, Kerry Washington, and Aunjanue Ellis). Her work on American Crime was transcendent. This triumph was worth sitting through all of those annoying and unnecessary repeat wins. Brava, Regina!

September 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNewMoonSon

And she plays a muslim in American Crime.
Happy Ied Adha!

September 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

Thanks for this. While Viola's speech got all the attention (deservedly so), Taylor's win was my favorite of the night. Like Viola, she does so much with so little. I agree that she was transcendent in Southland, but she's also great in barely written roles like her recurring character in Big Bang Theory.

September 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBiggs

Honestly, she was my favorite win of the night. Was so happy to finally see the industry acknowledge her and her extraordinary talent. I hope more people take notice of her work and give her more opportunities to show what amazing things she's capable of.

September 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Jerry Maguire, Ray, Southland, Shameless, American Crime.

September 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Another one singing the prise of her - and her co-stars, and the series, in Southland.

September 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterIvonne

Sorry for this, and I admire Regina, but nobody, and I mean nobody, emerges from Jerry Maguire unscathed. Truly dreadful film. Velveeta tastes better.

September 24, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

She's one of those actresses for whom I've always rooted because she commits to even the worst material like nobody's business -- always upping the stakes, raising everyone else's game, and bringing a jolt of life to the screen whenever she appears. From whom has she not stolen a scene?!

September 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H. true. I always flash back to her in Miss Congeniality 2 when Sandra Bullock says "I don't see why I can't be Tina Turner" and Regina King responds with the perfect line delivery of "You can't see that?"

September 24, 2015 | Registered CommenterKieran Scarlett

Thanks so much for this. One of the absolute best actresses of her generation - she deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Blanchett, HBC, Cruz and others, but never gets any of the accolades. She is best in show in everything, EVERYTHING she does. American Crime was a decent show, but she absolutely elevated the material light years past the other players. And Detective Lydia Adams is one of the greatest TV characters of all time. I'm so happy for her, but it's a sad testament to how long she has been excelling in her craft with zero public recognition. I'm sure her co-workers would agree.

September 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer


Regina Taylor has yet to win an Emmy. She is however a Golden Globe winner.

September 24, 2015 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Miss Congeniality 2 tried to do what Sandra Bullock couldn't do until 15 years later with The Heat; a truly female buddy comedy/action movie that didn't need a male love interest to be good.

I recommend anyone go to YouTube to watch when her and Jackee were guests on Watch What Happens Live and had too much of the complimentary liquor. HILARIOUS.

September 24, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjakey

Because I'm still juvenile at heart with an eye to society (even if I'm a bit anti-social), my favorite Regina King performance is her dual-role leading in The Boondocks animated series. Huey and Riley, each with a distinctive voice and tone to themselves, but enough familiarity of Regina within their performances to both believe the two are brothers AND to play with their polar duality in terms of broad African-American characterizations in pop culture.

September 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSTinG

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