“I've been working for 20 years in my 34 young years and if character actor means I can continue to work, then I'm very comfortable with it. I don't know, it's like one of those things, you want to get to a place where you're paid more, but I like the fact that I can go into the grocery store, I can do things where people notice me, but they don't want to run me over.” Regina King
First noticed as Brenda Jenkins (1985-1989), the studious and only child of Marla Gibbs' character on the NBC sitcom “227,” Regina King garnered more attention as the wife of Cuba Gooding Jr.’s character in the Oscar-winning film Jerry Maguire (1996) and as Margie Hendricks, the backup singer who has a romantic affair with legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles (played by Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx), in Taylor Hackford’s critically-acclaimed biopic Ray (2004). Since 2005, Regina has been providing her voice to main characters Huey Freeman/Riley Freeman in the animated TV series aired on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, “The Boondocks.” She is currently playing Sandra Palmer (2007), the sister of current US President Wayne Palmer (played by D. B. Woodside) and the deceased David Palmer (played by Dennis Haysbert), on Fox's hit show starring Kiefer Sutherland, “24.”
The talented actress has also starred in such films as Boyz n the Hood (1991), Poetic Justice (1993), Higher Learning (1995), How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998), Enemy of the State (1998), Down to Earth (2001), Daddy Day Care (2003), Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003), Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous (2005), The Ant Bully (2006; voice) and Year of the Dog (2007). She will star in the upcoming film This Christmas, alongside Laz Alonso and Nia Long.
More personally, the 5’ 3” tall screen star once dated actor Curtis Baldwin (born on November 25, 1967). She was married to Ian Alexander Sr. and has one child with him.
Childhood and Family:
In Los Angeles, California, Regina King was born on January 15, 1971. Her parents, Gloria and Thomas King, divorced in 1979. Regina is the older sister of actress Reina King (born in 1975). She attended Westchester High School, in Los Angeles, California, and graduated in 1988.
On April 23, 1997, Regina married Ian Alexander Sr., vice-president of the now-defunct Warner Bros. Records-distributed Qwest Records. They have one child who was born on January 19, 1996, a son named Ian Alexander Sr. On November 8, 2006, Regina filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences.” In May 1999, Regina was charged with felony DUI.
Down to Earth
Studying acting under the guidance of actress Betty A. Bridges, mother of actor Todd Bridges, Regina King attracted the attention of senior actresses while working with the Crossroads Theatre, founded by Marla Gibbs in 1981. This led Regina to her first nationwide TV acting debut role, as the young only child of Marla Gibbs' character, the studious Brenda Jenkins (1985-1989) on the NBC sitcom “227.” Her impressive performance was nominated for two Young Artist Awards, one for Exceptional Performance by a Young Actress in a Long Running Series Comedy or Drama (1987) and one for Best Young Actress Starring in a New Television Series (1986).
Regina made her film acting debut with a supporting role as Shalika in writer-director John Singleton’s Oscar-nominated gangster-drama Boyz N the Hood (1991), starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube, Laurence Fishburne, Nia Long and Morris Chestnut. She followed it up with a co-starring role in Singleton's Poetic Justice, a romantic drama film starring now-deceased rapper Tupac Shakur and pop star Janet Jackson (Regina played Janet’s best friend Lesha). In 1995, Regina reunited with Singleton in his drama film Higher Learning, along with Omar Epps, Kristy Swanson, Jennifer Connelly and Ice Cube.
Marcee Tidwell, wife of Rod Tidwell (played by Cuba Gooding Jr.), the Arizona Cardinals football player who sticks with Maguire (played by Tom Cruise), is Regina's breakthrough role, which she played in Cameron Crowe's Jerry Maguire (1996). The film won Cuba Gooding Jr. an Oscar and has helped to catapult Regina’s name toward the spotlight. She subsequently received major roles in Ron Underwood's remake of the 1949 film Mighty Joe Young (alongside Bill Paxton and Charlize Theron), Tony Scott's action/drama/thriller Enemy of the State (opposite Will Smith, Gene Hackman and Jon Voight (Regina was nominated for an Image Award for her performance) and Kevin Rodney Sullivan's adaptation of Terry McMillan's best selling romantic novel, How Stella Got Her Groove Back (with Angela Bassett, Taye Diggs and Whoopi Goldberg; all three in 1998).
“How Stella Got Her Grove Back (1998) was the first time I actually approached a film from a comedic standpoint. It was the first time I was really trying to be funny.” Regina King
In the new millennium, Regina starred opposite Chris Rock, playing his romantic interest Sontee Jenkins, in Down to Earth. The romantic comedy film, helmed by the Weitz brothers', is a modern version of the 1978 film Heaven Can Wait, which in turn, was a remake of a 1941 film Here Comes Mr. Jordan, which was based on Harry Segall’s stage play also called “Heaven Can Wait.” For her performance, Regina was nominated for an Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture.
“I think the changes they made makes it more of a 2000 thing. And showing the Wellington character the way they did, I think that’s a big shock for people, and it’s really hard to shock audiences now. I think the film worked out and I think I was a pretty good anchor.” Regina King on her performance in Down to Earth (2000).
2002 saw Regina return to the small screen in the true story-based TV movie Damaged Care, starring Laura Dern, and in the NBC short-lived sitcom “Leap of Faith,” in which she co-starred as Cynthia. The following year, she returned to the big screen to support Reese Witherspoon in Charles Herman-Wurmfeld's comedy Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003), the sequel to 2001's Legally Blonde. She also starred as the wife of Eddie Murphy’s character in Steve Carr's comedy Daddy Day Care.
Regina became Hilary Duff’s up-to-date fairy godmother in Mark Rosman's romantic/comedic teen movie A Cinderella Story (2004; also starring Chad Michael Murray) before hitting it big again as Margie Hendricks, the backup singer who has a romantic affair with legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles (played by Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx), in the Taylor Hackford-directed biopic Ray (2004). Regina’s performance earned critical acclaim, winning her an Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture and a Golden Satellite Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Comedy or Musical. She also received nominations at the Black Reel and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
“It's beautiful. I like to call it a lifetime within a lifetime. It's something that will follow me for the rest of my life. I think it's a movie that will continue to be on people's top 5 lists when it comes to biopics.” Regina King (on the movie Ray, 2004)
Afterward, film director John Pasquin paired Regina with Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005), the sequel to the 2000 film Miss Congeniality, where she received a BET Comedy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Theatrical Film and a Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Dance Scene (shared with Bullock) nomination.
“We had so much fun. We had so much fun. I mean if every movie with a female partner could be this way, then I want to do plenty movies with just women, because we had a ball. We really did. I mean, every woman has days that aren't- - every person has days that aren't as great as others, and just kind of shepherd each other through it during those moments. You just kind of knew when the other wasn't quite up to par physically or just emotionally. And it was just fine. It was so much fun too with a girl who can, like, burp and talk about Halliburton at the same time.” Regina King on working with Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005).
From 2005 to present (2007), Regina provided her voice for main characters Huey Freeman (the ten-year-old vegetarian and African-American radical) and Riley Freeman (Huey's gangsta rap-obsessed little brother) in the animated TV series aired on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, “The Boondocks.” The series, based on the comic strip of the same name, was renewed for a 20-episode second season scheduled to premiere in June 2007.
“That's a blessing. I really take that (validation) I did my work, I did my research, I did what I was supposed to do. I get noticed for my voice. I'm in the grocery store - clearly the girl is in the grocery store a lot - and I'm talking to my son in the aisle and someone will come around and go, ‘I knew it was you!’ So that's a good thing. Maybe I have a voiceover career there.” Regina King on her voice work in “The Boondocks.”
During her “Boondocks” stint, Regina also provided her voice to no-nonsense Forager Ant Kreela in John Davis’ computer-animated film The Ant Bully, which was produced by Tom Hanks. Her latest film, Year of the Dog (starring Molly Shannon), a drama comedy written and directed by Mike White, premiered on January 20, 2007, at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Recently, TV viewers could catch her on Fox's Emmy and Golden Globe-winning drama/action/thriller series “24,” playing Sandra Palmer, the sister of current US President Wayne Palmer (played by D. B. Woodside) and the deceased David Palmer (played by Dennis Haysbert). Her character was introduced in the show’s 2nd episode of season 6. Additionally, Regina is currently filming her upcoming big screen project, writer-director Preston A. Whitmore II's Christmastime drama This Christmas, alongside Laz Alonso and Nia Long.
Adding to her acting career, Regina is also a sharp business woman. She opened a Los Angeles restaurant called Paio in August 1998 and launched her own clothing line, SMOKAWEAR, in 1993.