Her name is synonymous with Hollywood Blockbusters, and as the first black woman to receive a New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) award for Best Actress; Regina Hall has certainly earned her seat at the table of Hollywood A-listers.
The charismatic actress has come a long way since her days of Scary Movie, Love&Basketball and The Best Man. We chat to her about her most recent role on the Shaft sequel, which just launched on Netflix. Regina stars alonsgide Samuel. L Jackson and we’re here for it!
First of all, congratulations on being the first black woman to receive the NYFCC Award for best actress, what does this accolade mean to you?
It’s an incredible honor. And I’m am both thrilled and humbled to be recognized by the NYFC and receive this award. The critics supported the movie so much. They were crucial. They gave our film a voice. And life beyond the festivals. And that is so important in our business where indies don’t have the budget for big publicity.
You've come a long way since the days of Scary Movie, how would you say your career has evolved over the years?
It’s been steady. And that’s great because I really got a chance to learn a lot without tons of pressure. It’s amazing to see the evolution of a career in hindsight.
What’s thought process behind choosing a role?
There are many elements to consider. The script, the director an producer, cast, character; money etc. And ultimately it’s your gut.
You are quite versatile and you have great comedic timing, what would you attribute this skill to?
I come from a funny family. I had to be quick being the youngest and only girl so maybe that’s it. And I also love laughter.
You’ve just wrapped filming Shaft, alongside Samuel. L Jackson, how would you describe the experience and what went into preparing for the role?
It was great working with Sam. He’s such an amazing actor and I’ve admired and respected his work forever. I had never done an action film so that was fun and I learned a lot. We had a great cast and crew. And I love working with Tim Story, our director.
How is this role different from any other role you’ve played and what sort of challenges did you encounter and how did you overcome them?
I just followed Sam’s lead. I watched and listened. That’s what’s so great about working with Tim as well, he supports you in every way possible.
Are there any funny antecdotes you’d like to share about your experience in the film, as well as your chemistry and relationship with your co-stars?
Chemistry with Sam is easy. His first priority is the work and so he’s always there to help and support that. The highlight of production was sharing the screen with Sam Jackson!
In terms of the storyline, what can we expect?
You can expect lots of laughs and action. And there really is a great story. It’s about family and it may be untraditional but it’s family none the less.
Would you say you gravitate more towards stories made for black audiences? And why is it so important to be part of the narrative?
I gravitate towards good material and stories that resonate with me. And as a black woman many of those stories are black. It’s always important for me to partake in our narratives and their representations.
South African stories have been told in Hollywood, what would you say makes our stories so compelling?
I love watching South African stories. They have a familiarity to me. And they move us in such deep way. Especially apartheid. It parallels the racism which continues to plague America.
Have you travelled to South Africa before? If so what was your impression and your favourite place in SA? If not, is it on your bucket list?
I have been to Johannesburg. I had a ball!
We celebrate Heritage month in Septemeber, how would you define your heritage?
My heritage is very connected to the long line of strong women I come from. I’ve learned so much from them. Even the ones I don’t know and have never met. I know their DNA shapes so many things that affect who I am. The good and not so good. I claim it all.
Who are the women on your radar at the moment?
Any woman who strives to grow and make things better in any way is on my radar.
Lastly, what’s your secret to looking so youthful?
Lots of water! I think it makes a big difference!