When we first met Regina Hall, she was a stripper. Her name was Candy. And she was the love interest of Julian Murch, a gentleman she met at the bachelor party for one Lance Sullivan.
The film, of course, was director Malcolm D. Lee’s much acclaimed The Best Man, and it was Hall’s first role ever. There was excitement that she’d be working with such a fantastic ensemble of burgeoning Black talent, but there was trepidation because, well, she was playing a stripper.
The 43-year-old New York University graduate (she’s earned a master’s degree in journalism) worried that’s all she’d be seen as. Hall now jokes that while she was fearful of being limited by such a role, she’s a bit miffed her phone hasn’t rang again asking her to portray another exotic dancer.
“No one has asked me again to play a stripper. I’m offended,” she deadpans. Her new role, opening Valentine’s Day, has her starring as Joan, the love interest of Kevin Hart in About Last Night. The film isn’t exactly a note-for-note remake of the 1980s hit, but instead a retelling of its source material, the 1974 David Mamet play, Sexual Perversity in Chicago.
The role is sexy, and while she’s playing someone who works in the dental field (and not, ahem, someone who takes her clothes off for a living), it’s the sexiest we’ve seen Regina since that original Best Man role. The film is quite sexy, and Regina doesn’t hold back. In one sex scene, she’s contorted all types of ways—yes, her leg really does go that high, she scoffs—and in another she’s wearing a chicken mask. (You’d have to see the scene to really get the gist of this joke!)
“Joan… she’s today’s woman, you know? She’s smart, independent, inventive. She’s a professional and she loves what she does, but most importantly she’s really unapologetic for her life,” Regina offers. “She is emotional, passionate, and she loves hard. I’m a woman, and I love hard in real life. You know, Black women, we love hard. Maybe not as bad as Joan, but girl, we love with a ferocity. And it’s an informed way that we love.”
The film, which also stars Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant (Bryant plays Hall’s best friend, Debbie), challenges viewers to look at all sides of a relationship. Hall’s character is a bit out there, and she says she loves every bit of her.
“She’s fun, which is the opposite of Debbie. With Joan, I just wanted to have fun with her. But I did want audiences to see a little bit of themselves, recognize and like her,” she says. “I wanted people to like Joan. But not really. I didn’t care! Of course, I wanted to play the truth of the character more than you’re thinking about whether the audience will like her, but I’m just saying. I wanted to make her have all these facets of what it is to be a woman, and then have fun with that.
“And I wanted her to be able to be sexually free but not a hoe. And she’s not. She meets someone, she has a connection and she’s not bed hopping. She doesn’t bed anybody else in that movie. But in that moment life is happening, and she said yes.”
Next up, we’ll see Hall (again with Ealy) in Think Like A Man Too. We most recently saw her in The Best Man Holiday sequel, which blew box office watchers away with how well it performed. The tide is turning for Black actors—this month’s Vanity Fair Hollywood issue features six Black faces, a first—but Hall says she’s not getting comfortable just yet.
“Entertainment is competitive for all of us,” Hall says. “To be able to get work is a blessing. You always want there to be more. It’s like food. Like, I wish there was more, like I could work more and more. It’s not necessarily that way, but for today it’s wonderful. We’re just happy with today. We’re happy there are producers like Will Packer who are conscientious. Having someone, like, behind the scenes is what has really continued to make the difference. When you have directors and producers who are in those rooms making those decisions, and encouraging and swaying those decisions, that’s how we get to where we are.”
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EBONY Entertainment Editor