Sunday, June 25, 2017

We should open our minds to love

Questions and answers with Regina Hall

Regina Hall

Regina Hall is among the most sought-after actresses in Hollywood, delighting audiences with her “girl-next-door” charm and versatile acting skills. Her journey to household name status has made stops at the absurd (several installments of the “Scary Movie” franchise), the sublime (art house favorite “Death at a Funeral”) and everywhere in between (“About Last Night,” “Think Like a Man Too” and “Best Man Holiday,” to name just a few). She also appears in this summer’s “Vacation” reboot, just completed filming the sequel “Barbershop 3” and stars in the forthcoming indie comedy “People Places Things.” Hall recently sat down with Las Vegas Black Image Magazine for a wide-ranging conversation about her extraordinary life and career.

Tell us about your new movie, “People Places Things.”

Jim Strouse wrote the movie and directed it. He is so talented, and the story is about a man going through a breakup and you see his point of view. Usually, we always just see the female’s perspective. I play a character named Diane that the main character meets and starts dating. The story is the sweetest story, and I immediately loved it when I read the script. It’s really profound but also very light.

In the movie, your character is in an interracial relationship. Do you think black women should keep their options open for finding love?

Yes, you should keep your options open when it comes to love — whatever package it comes in. I know we are committed to the cause, and we want strong families and black marriages. I certainly think that is wonderful. But I also think that it is okay — especially for black women — to love someone who honors you, gives you love and respect, and treats you kind. Let them in your heart. We should definitely open our minds to love.

What are some of the other new projects that you are working on?

I have a thriller called “When the Bough Breaks,” with Morris Chestnut, that will soon be in theaters. It is really good and scary. It is like a psychological thriller, but it is not a horror movie at all. I had a wonderful time filming the new “Barbershop” movie and the new “Vacation” movie, as well.

To what do you attribute your sustainable acting career?

I have a diligent team that includes my manager and my agents. They always push me for [roles] that are not necessarily [created] for me. They say, “What about Regina Hall?” They work really, really hard and it’s helpful that I do comedy and drama.

Obviously, God sustains me. It’s a blessing. Certain things are not in human control. I am really blessed, and I appreciate everything. I have met a lot of great people, and I love to work. I am very happy. My mom prays, and her prayers help a lot, along with prayers from my agents. It helps so much.

Why do you think you have tremendous likability?

Well, I really like people. I like women — or I should say, I love women. I have a lot of amazing girlfriends. I admire the love and support women give to one another. The sisterhood is so important, and goes beyond blood. I really believe in that.

My girlfriends have been there for me in difficult times. My father passed away unexpectedly from a stroke when I was in my twenties. My girlfriends were by my side. I feel that all humans are connected in some way. As my grandmother would always say, “But for the grace of God.”

There is not a situation or person that we are not connected to. I really believe that human beings are connected to each other deeply. I think that when you honor humanity, in all of life, it resonates with everyone. I also like to have fun, laugh, and just be.

My mom is the most amazing woman in my life, and my grandmother is a queen. We know what our families do to help us get to the next phase in life. Those are the kind of things that make us special.

Is it easier to be friends with women in the entertainment industry, or out of it?

I have both. One of my closest girlfriends has her own cleaning business, another is a speech pathologist and one is amazing with computers. My girlfriends run the gamut. They are all wonderful, smart, crazy and blessed to be in good health. Half of them are single, and the common denominator is that they are good, hardworking and loving life women. We all go through it together. Maybe it’s because many of us aren’t married yet. But we want to be.

Nevertheless, we also know that it’s okay not to be married. That is the beautiful part of it all. It would be wonderful to be married if you can find a man you were in love with. But [never] rush into it and just marry anybody. Marriage does not define a woman. We all know it’s wonderful — absolutely. But we are grateful for whatever space we are in.

Are you in a relationship now?

Yes, I am dating someone now. And we will see where it goes. He is very nice and he is not in the entertainment business.

Marriage is beautiful and I love examples of marriage. I always say, “I want to marry the right person.” And by “right person,” I mean the right guy for me. Not, “Oh he has to be this or that.”

Out of all the movies that you have starred in, which ones gave you the best life and career lessons?

Regina Hall, in a scene with “People Places Things” co-star Jemaine Clement.

That is a great question. Actually when I did “Law & Order: L.A.” with Alfred Molina. He was so great to work with. I loved watching him work — knowing how long he had been in the business and how professional he was. His technique and his joy were amazing. It was a great life lesson to watch him.

Also, probably when I worked on “Scary Movie.” Keenen Ivory Wayans told me, “There is no vanity in comedy.” I remember that was really profound for me, and it made me never look at playbacks again. I never want to think about how I look when I am working.

You received your master’s degree from New York University. How has higher education helped your acting career?

I studied journalism because I love it, and I sometimes contribute to a magazine. Having a balanced perspective on the world helps me develop characters I might play. People ask me all the time, “Why do you always watch the news?” I think it is a habit, but I love it.

I also love to read books, even though my agents say that I don’t read scripts fast enough. I am currently reading a fascinating book called “Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga.”

What historic black entertainer, such as Eartha Kitt, would you like to portray on the big screen?

That is really interesting. I actually do love Eartha Kitt. There are so many biographies and autobiographies that I have read. I love the Elaine Brown [activist, writer and former Black Panther Party chairwoman] story. I think she was really phenomenal. It would be an honor and a responsibility to portray a life story.

What are some of your favorite people, places and things?

My mother is my favorite person. I love my daddy. I really haven’t spoken of him much, because of the emotional pain I experienced upon his passing. I would just speak about my mother, and many people think my father just wasn’t around in my life.

This is not true. He was very much present in my life, and I saw him every single day, even though he and my mom had divorced. He was an awesome person. It’s such a stigma with black men, and the perception that they are not around their children and participating in their lives. But my dad was always there for me, and he will always be one of my favorite people.

Monaco is one of my favorite places to go. I also love to be outdoors in gardens and on trails. I love the outdoors, the beach and animals.

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