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The Diva's interview with Regina King

The Diva's interview with
Regina King
One of the stars of
A Cinderella Story (2004)

The Diva's The Cinderella Story Movie review

Copyright Kamal Larsuel, 2004

Question:
Regina, was it a challenge to play the best friend or rather the voice of reason?

Regina King:
Um, I have to say that it wasn’t a major challenge to be the voice of reason for young girls out there. I mean that and it’s a movie starring Hillary Duff – my son loves Hillary- made it very appealing to me. Just to do a movie that encourages young women to be more confident and embrace themselves more. This was something that I was kinda of excited about having the opportunity to take on.


Question:
What was the talk about having the Cinderella story take on more real life elements?


Regina King:
Well by the time I came aboard pretty much all of the script, except the fairy godmother, the came to me and told me that it was Hillary Duff and The Cinderella Story. And when I read the script, the original Fairy GodMother was like a Valley Girl –which I didn’t think would go over too well. Truth be told, I do not even know what a Valley Girl is. So we sat down and - me and one of the writers and we talked for about an hour and pulled in some of my personality traits and we came up with Rhonda.


Question:
Did they ever ask you to roller-skate? Or was it already in the script?


Regina:
Um, it was already decided that she wouldn’t. I honestly can’t remember if that was in the original script. I know they changed the diner. It was never written that Rhonda didn’t wear roller-skates. But we all agreed that there was only so far that Rhonda was going to go. And the roller-skates were not going to go down with her.


Question:
What surprised you the most about working with Hillary?


Regina:
That she is so sweet. She really is as sweet as she comes across. I know of her from the Lizzie Maguire show. I watch it with my son and I was thinking “Gol-ly no one can be just that darn cute!” and she is! I guess it really just surprised me to see someone 16 who is still naïve – naïve in a good way. Not disrespectful. She understands her place as a teenager. She doesn’t try to be more than that. She doesn’t try to be a grown woman – which is really common for girls her age. That was really surprising and refreshing.


Question:
So you are basically a fan of Hillary’s?


Regina:
Yes, yes of course! I love her. I think the thing that girls and boys – well boys think she’s cute – but to girls, she comes across as really really approachable and I think that is the appeal to the 8-18 year old group of girls. This is what really excited me after reading the final script is that it was with her because the underlying message of embracing yourself is going to be better received because young girls are attracted to her personality. So hopefully that message will come across. You know young American girls are in a state of emergency. We don’t have a lot of role models for them. Especially immediately around them. Most of their role models are what they see on television or in the magazines and most our girls won’t become those women. And another group of those girls will try to become those women before they are even women themselves. with a punch, but he was just showing off though.


Question:
Whoever plays Fiona has to a really good sport. How was working with Jennifer Coolidge?


Regina:
Oh God. I don’t think it could have been anyone other than Jennifer. I mean, I don’t know if you have ever seen any of the Christopher Guest movies, but she is a brilliant improvisationalist and comedienne and actress. The bigger the better for her. She welcomes being the oddball. She really gets into that


Question:
It must be hard working with a straight face with her than.


Regina:
Well this is my third movie with her so I knew what to expect, but the director would yell cut and we would all start cracking up. There are quite a few takes that didn’t make it to the PG-13 version.


Question:
You were a teen actress in 227, but never before has there been this teen explosion. Do you look back and wish that it could have been this way for you?


Regina:
Not at all. Not at all. I am so glad that it wasn’t that way. There is a lot of pressure being a child star – for lack of a better word- there is a lot of pressure just being a teenager and then to add to it being a celebrity on top of it, it’s just crazy. You know when I was doing it, we all didn’t have computers, so now it’s more accessible because computers are everywhere. So I think that’s why being a child star now is so much bigger. You can download a picture of somebody on a blackberry. You can take a picture of someone with your cell phone. It’s crazy.


Question:
What about the transition you made from television to film. Was it tough for you?


Regina:
Tough in a sense that the role that I played wasn’t a big one in 227, so I wasn’t a main character and I don’t think anyone regarded me as an actress. So I was just regarded more as “the kid on that show.” So it was about a year that went by, where I couldn’t get any auditions, um and that was really frustrating. Then I got the opportunity to audition for “Boyz in da hood” and come in and show that I’m really and actress. I do this because I love the art form and there were things I could say other than, “I’m going to my room.”


The Diva:
You spoke about role models and I think you are selling yourself short because you and I are the same age and when we were coming up – it was you and Denise Huxtable. And you have always been a positive role model even as an adult. I’ve never seen you put a negative image of a black woman on screen. Is that something that you strive for? These are conscious decisions you make?


Regina:
Thank you! And Definitely it is a conscious choice. I mean I’ve had a few roles like “Boyz” and “Poetic Justice” that weren’t the most positive images, but for me, I have to always represent a strong woman. I don’t personally want to see any submissive women on screen and television so I choose not to play them and if I do play one, she’s going to have to make some kind of turn around or survive it or comes out of it stronger. Um, I have definitely made the decision to always be strong. Even for the roles that might have been a little bit negative. You know at the end that without a doubt, that girl is going to make it. Or get out of whatever situation she’s in. She always stands up for herself. The man never puts his thumb on her.


Question:
What was your favorite teen movie growing up?


Regina:
I don’t know if it was exactly a teen movie but I loved “Bugsy Malone” with Scott Baio and Jodie Foster. And I’ve been looking forward to showing it to my son. That and “West Side Story” was a favorite. I don’t know if these are teen movies, but they do appeal to teens.


Question:
Well those are very different movies than the kind of movies that are made today, right?


Regina:
Yeah they are very different, but they are the movies that I try to show to my son. And he just got “West Side Story.” We were in the grocery store and he saw it. It’s funny that he gravitates towards the movies that I like. Anyway when he picked it up, and I screamed “how much is it? $9.99? We’re going to get it!” And he loved it. And he’s watched it 4 times already and I don’t think the studios are making movies like that anymore. I don’t think that they won’t appeal to teenagers. I just think that they aren’t marketed towards today’s teenager’s and they aren’t going to do search on the hot movies when their mom was a kid. So I don’t know how many mom’s are like myself and try to expose their children to all different kinds of movies, but I’m fortunate in that my son likes all kinds of movies and all kinds of music. “The Sound of Music is one of his favorite movies and he knows all of the words. And that made me so proud!


The Diva:
Have you shown him “The Wiz” yet?


Regina:
Yes he really likes it, but he does fast forward through some parts. To the Michael Jackson parts.


Question::
Are they going to have to make a new introduction to the Ray Charles movie now that he has died?


Regina:
No. It’s fine. The movie only followed him up to the 80’s so the only thing they’ll have to change is the final caption. You guys will have to come back when Ray comes out and ask me more questions about it.


Question:
Do you have any memories – good or bad of working with Tupac and Janet Jackson on “Poetic Justice”?


Regina:
I have wonderful memories of working with Tupac on the movie we were very close on set. I think I was the one person he gravitated to because we understood each other – although he was born in New York – both growing up in California and for him growing up in Oakland left an impression on him. So both of us being California kids and seeing the same things. I introduced him to so much music. I remember each morning he would ask me “Okay whatcha got for me now?” and I would make him play a song he had never heard before and sing. I have really great memories of Tupac.


Question:
Are you surprised at how much he is still revered by today’s youth?


Regina:
No, not at all. When a spirit is that strong, you know is always going to be remembered. He wasn’t a leader like Farrakhan or King, but in a way he was for the youth. If you watch any of his videos or listen to him talk – he is just so dynamic. And his eyes! You know they say the eyes are the windows to the soul and you just look at him and you know that he is not lying. He is just so committed to whatever he believes in. It may not be right, but he is still committed to it. I think the kids are attracted to realness of him. You know people who are real to themselves. I think that’s why kids are so close with their grandparents. Kids and grandparents are so similar to each other in terms of being real.


Question:
No matter how big an actor gets, people will come up to them and know that they are famous but mistake you for someone else. Has this happened to you?


Regina:
Oh sure! Always- being a black woman it’s like : “ You were in ummmmm Independence Day! {laughter} So basically the association is with Will Smith and they just go down the line until they get the right movie.


Question::
Is there anyone you’ve been mistaken for that you are flattered by?


Regina:
I will not say that I’m not flattered by it, but it’s kinda disappointing that we all kinda go in the same category because we’re all individual actresses. I don’t think Vivica is like me in any type of way or am I like her. I think that she is an awesome actress and we’re all just original and unique in our own ways. For me , from the outside looking in, it’s like “how could youever not know who’s who?” And you do get “What movie was that….?” They just know that you are a familiar face and they don’t always associate it with a particular movie. They just know you’ve been in one and then they start pulling on every black film ever made.


Question:
Did you ever have a mentor, similar to how you mentor Hillary Duff’s Character in this movie?


Regina:
I was lucky enough to have a mom who was always there and always supportive of everything I wanted to do even if it was really ridiculous and she knew that I wasn’t going to continue it. She always supported me and went out of her way to make whatever I had an interest in, available. I took accordion lessons just because I saw a guy on the beach playing it. She knew that once I got that accordion in my lap, I wasn’t going to want to do it. And she was right, but she still went on and with.


Question:
You are working on Miss Congeniality 2 right now? Are there sparks flying between your character and Sandra Bullocks’ ?


Regina:
It’s going awesome and yes there are sparks. By the end of the movie, no. But right now we are shooting when we have to work together as partners and it starts off that we do not dig each other at all. We even have a couple of fights in the beginning because we are both tough girls.


Question:
Is everyone back for this one?


Regina:
Ernie Hudson and William Shatner are back. No Michael Caine.


Question::
Is it the same Pageant?


Regina:
No. We are in Las Vegas and we have to go undercover as drag queens. [laughs] Yeah, we’re women pretending to be drag queens.


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