Streaming / 21 November 2019, 5:00pm / Debashine Thangevelo
This has been Regina King’s year.
She bagged an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in "If Beale Street Could Talk" and she was also made Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in the world.
Although she’s been in the industry for several years, she is only reaping the benefits now. She isn’t complaining about this late bloom of recognition.
In fact, she is basking in the high praise, knowing the sweat and tears that went into this end result. And the doors keep opening. She is the lead in Damon Lindelof’s superhero dystopian drama, "Watchmen".
Cast as Angela Abar, she is a wonderful juxtaposition of dangerous and heroic. She is a Tulsa police detective, who strikes fear in the heart of criminal elements in her city, especially those of the Seventh Kavalry, a white supremacist group.
To those she protects, she is their daily armour. However, she never reveals her identity, following a tragic event that happened years ago. When she is working, it is in a nun’s habit. Her face is covered by a balaclava. King’s multi-layered character gives the actress room to explore myriad emotions.
“Yes, she wears several masks – I think we all do. We all do in life and the way she’s navigating in this alternate universe is an example, I think, a very subtle but true example, of how we are navigating in real life,” she says.
“We have to wear different masks. In some spaces we may not be as patient as we need to be, and it takes a little wisdom sometimes, and sometimes it’s just a natural thing.
“I was always wearing masks in high school because I never had that one group of kids I hung out with. I was the person that was with the skaters on Monday, with the weed heads on Tuesday. You’re always trying to adapt and you use these masks as you’re figuring it out.”
On working with Lindelof after "The Leftovers", she admits, “Oh gosh, I mean, you hope for that as an actor, to have such different projects. You don’t want people to leave after watching a little exposé on your career and say, ‘Well, yeah, all the roles are all the same.’ If you’ve played the wife four times you want each wife to be different, hopefully. But when I read this script I’d never seen anything like this show and I’d never seen anyone like her before.”
Racism is a huge talking point in the TV series. That said, it isn’t the first time she’s in a project where the conversation comes up.
She shares, “We’re all in a grey area. We all have good intentions but sometimes what may feel like the right choice in the moment, later on, is not. When people say, ‘Oh, you’re such a great mom, your son is so great,’ and I’ll go, ‘I’ll know when I know he’s in therapy, talking about that time I decided to do X, Y or Z.’
“I think with Angela, what makes her unique is that she didn’t come into it for the greater good of all; she kind of came in from an emotional place, though if you asked her, she would not say that. She probably consciously doesn’t even realise that she’s made these certain choices because she’s still dealing with pain that has been passed down to her, that she’s managed to suppress and she’s managed to move forward with, unbeknownst to what’s happened before.”
King adds, “We get to take this wonderful journey about a family with the backdrop of racism and policing and it’s a perfect mirror for what’s going on right now, because that’s happening right now. We’re sitting here right now, nine chances out of 10 we can get on social media and find something offensive regarding race and gender that someone in power is saying, doing, and it’s part of the fabric of America.
“Kudos to Damon for using the Tulsa massacre as an entry point into the history of our nation, but also honouring this material that is so dear to him.”
Watching King go all badass in the series is not to be missed. She owns this role.
"Watchmen"airs on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Monday at 9pm and streams on Showmax on at the same time.