Regina King Wants Women to Push Every Boundary They Can

Regina King - lEAD
Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Regina King is killing it. In February, she stepped out as the star of Netflix's new series, Seven Seconds. King's role as Latrice, a mother who's son was killed due to police violence, landed her a 2018 Emmy nomination (BTW, she already has two Emmys to her name for her work in American Crime).

Off-screen, King is doing even more important work: calling attention to how unnecessarily difficult it is for female directors to break into the industry. According to a recent report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, women account for less than 27 percent of the industry behind-the-scenes, including directors, producers, and editors. To shed some light on this issue, King partnered up with Gillette Venus to create the Her Shot campaign.

The campaign, which uses the hashtag #HerShotxVenus, features the video content of 10 emerging female directors. Each video was specifically made for the brand's Instagram TV page, and focuses on the importance of a woman's point of view. King mentored the directors involved in the project, offering guidance and career advice.

We sat down with King to find out more about her thoughts on gender inequality in the entertainment industry, her new Emmy nomination for Seven Seconds, and the power of speaking your mind.

It's no secret that women have fewer opportunities than men behind-the-scenes. Still, we have a long way to go. What do you think can be done to keep spreading the message?

What I hope is that other companies look at what Gillette Venus is doing and create their own version of that. That’s the most powerful way to make younger women aware of the possibility of being more than [just] an actress or a singer. If you do want to be an actress, I’m not saying to stop that dream. But how about being an Issa Rae, who created her own space? She wrote, directed, and starred in her web series.

The more we are linking up from country to country — singing it out loud, and saying it out loud, and not feeling any type of guilt or concern when someone says, '"Oh, here they go with this women stuff again." Yep, here we go again with it! We’re going to keep going with it! I feel like the more we continue to create space and to talk about the spaces when we’re creating them, the shift will move faster and the groundswell will be bigger.

Eight years ago, you wrote an article about the lack of diversity at the Emmys. Can you speak to this moment in time, and what you learned?

A few things that happened at that time made me go, "You know what? If I never get nominated for an Emmy, who cares? I need to say this." The important thing was to make sure that I said it in a way that was clear, and in a way that wasn’t disrespectful–and when I say disrespectful, I mean disrespectful to myself. It turns out that years and years later, I ended up not only being nominated, but winning an Emmy. I feel like that whole story — from the moment of writing that post to actually winning an Emmy — is just showing the power of being true to who you are.

You often mention the power of speaking your mind.

I feel like that’s still a powerful story to be heard. It allows young women to see that if that’s how you feel, you should speak on it with respect. Whatever you say, it’s out there. You can’t take it away, so you want to make sure you’re always elegant, eloquent, and respectful when you do — but clear with how you feel. That there is a win at the end. The first win is you being honest with yourself.

You've been nominated for an Emmy for your work in Seven Seconds, a series about the death of a black teenager caused by a white police officer, and the subsequent cover-up of the accident. How does it feel to be nominated?

It’s always exciting. I guess what makes all of them special is that [I've been nominated] for subject matter that forces us to look at our society. It’s pretty powerful to have an opportunity for your art to meet those issues, and being able to share thoughts about them or to offer different perspectives. When you’re nominated, it brings even more attention to [that issue]. It’s a win-win.

You play a mother who’s son was killed due to police violence, and you’re a mother as well. What was it like getting into that role?

It was emotional. It was a really heavy place to be for six months. Police violence is something that’s always been a reality for black Americans. While it was terrifying to take the role knowing the emotional toll it could possibly take, it also felt necessary. At first I did not want that role. In hindsight, I know it’s because I was really scared of the emotion that came with playing Latrice. It was something that I felt was necessary as an artist — to tackle something that you’re scared of. I always say that comfort zones are where dreams go to die.

Tune into the Emmy Awards on September 17 at 8 p.m. EST to see more from King, and be sure to head over to the Gillette Venus Instagram page to learn more about the Her Shot campaign.

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