I sit outside the hotel suite and hear Regina King’s unmistakable voice flow through the open door. I’d know Regina King’s voice anywhere. Her career in film and television stretches back over thirty years and is as varied as they come. My hands shake slightly because I know her name, King, isn’t just an identifier, it’s a promise; she’s royalty. King’s latest role as Sharon Rivers in Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of James Baldwin’s seminal novel If Beale Street Could Talk has seen her walk away with the Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actress and rightly so. If Kiki Layne’s turn as Tish Rivers is an example of quiet resilience of which we rarely see on our silver screen, Regina King’s Sharon is distilled strength.
Barry Jenkins creates a space big enough to house all these different versions of black womanhood and King is free to play the loving, fierce mother who will go to the ends of the earth for her family. As I walk into the suite, Regina King rises from her seat. I go to shake her hand but she opens her arms for a hug and I know that I’ve got nothing to be nervous about. This is a safe space.