The Betty Interview: Regina King
Find out what the Southland star really thinks about the Jay Leno-NBC debacle that forced her show off the network. Plus, she dishes about her newfound respect for the LAPD, and how happy she is that her good friend Sandra Bullock is having her best year ever.
Regina King’s notorious for stealing the spotlight, whether she’s on TV or in movies. It started with her role as sassy, studious Brenda on 227, and continued to Cuba Gooding Jr.’s shrewd, negotiator-of-a-wife in Jerry Maguire, and as the ultimate sequel sidekick to Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde 2 and Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality 2. She’s keeping that streak alive as Lydia Adams, the detective who wears her heart on her badge, on TNT’s Southland (Tuesdays, 10 p.m. EST). The 39-year-old Los Angeles native is at a good place in her life right now. Her canceled show has found a new home that appreciates it, her 14-year-old son, Ian, is turning into a man she can be proud of, and she’s in love. What more can a woman ask for?
By moving The Jay Leno Show to 10 p.m., NBC pushed Southland off the schedule. What was your reaction?
It was hard. I have to admit it was pretty devastating. I’m very grateful we were able to emerge out of the ashes and find a new home on TNT. I think we’re better off. But it’s unfortunate that such an iconic network that was known for breaking kick-ass, one-hour shows would make such a decision. It’s sad to me, because I started out on NBC [on 227]. Back then, it was the huge network that took risks, and now they’re the little network that’s scared. They know the mistake they made and I hope they recover from it. I really do.
What first attracted you to the show?
When I read the pilot, Lydia truly stood out for me. She was the most multi-dimensional female character I had read in a while, so I really wanted to be the one to play her.
For people who haven’t seen Southland yet (and they should!), how would you describe your character, Detective Adams?
I would say that she’s compassionate, but still very serious and committed to her job. She doesn’t take what she does lightly. She’s also a people person, so as a detective she’s willing to listen. She can be sensitive, but she will not be easily taken advantage of.
You get to play a lot of smart, tough characters. Is that because that’s who you are off screen?
I hope so. I’m personally just not interested in seeing women who are weak on TV and in movies — and I don’t think other women are, either. Even if the character starts out that way, you want to see some type of evolution, so she turns into a woman who you can respect.