by Kirsten Akens
Actress Regina Hall has been in a range of television series from Law & Order: LA and Black-ish to Insecure and Ally McBeal. Her films are just as genre-crossing — she played Brenda in all four Scary Movie films, Candace in The Best Man Holiday, and, most recently, Ryan Pierce in Girls Trip.
When we spoke with Hall at the end of 2017, she had just wrapped shooting on the film adaptation of the young adult novel The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. Published in February 2017, The Hate U Give opened at No. 1 on the New York Times Young Adult Bestseller List, spent 38 weeks on the list, and, among receiving many other awards, became a National Book Award Longlist finalist with an unprecedented eight starred reviews. If any book was a breakout book of 2017, addressing race, class, police brutality and activism, this is it.
When asked why she wanted to be a part of the film adaptation, Hall says, “It’s such a powerful film with an ironic title that’s really about unity. I thought there’s just a lot of things going on in the world, and that’s the direction that we should head. I thought it was powerful as a YA book, and to be able to translate that to film and be a part of it, I felt like it was a great opportunity. The book resonated with me, and the script did as well.”
For many of her roles, Hall says that her acting has been impacted by her early desire and schooling to be a journalist — she graduated from Fordham University in 1992, and went on to receive her master’s in journalism from New York University.
“I think a part of journalism is having to be informed. And especially when we were going to school for it back then, I felt like [journalism] really concentrated a lot on truth and honesty. And I used to read a lot … and I watched the news a lot. I don’t know, I always feel like that’s informed who I am — the prism that you look at the world with — because there’s an attempted objectivity that you always want to have in journalism.
“I feel like I try to even look at characters that way, not have judgment on things. … I feel like it’s kind of shaped who am I and the way I experience things, and so it’s definitely shaped how I look at a character.”
Hall may have relied a bit less on journalism and a little more on personal experience for her most recent feature film release, Girls Trip. She says she’s gone on girls’ trips with her friends several times, visiting places like Mexico, Jamaica, and South Africa.
“You get to just let your hair down, and you have to do it. A lot of times women have so much responsibility between families and kids. When you do that, it’s kind of just about you.”
Of course, she adds, “we may not do as much as we did in the movie, but we have a great time.”
Probably a good thing, since in Girls trip, four life-long friends escape to New Orleans for a girlfriends’ getaway described as having “enough dancing, drinking, brawling and romance to make the Big Easy blush.”
Making this film, Hall says, was a lot of fun, first and foremost, because of the ladies involved. She describes the time with Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish as “too much fun on the set.”
“Never was it like, ah, I don’t feel like going to work. We laughed every day.”
Added to the people involved, Hall says, she really enjoyed “the fact that we got to be kind of outrageous in a way that we don’t get to see women do on film. It just exposed a lot of how we relate and how important those relationships are to us and how supportive women are to one another. ”
When asked what she would recommend leaving out of in a girls’ trip after making this film, she says she might exclude all forms of drugs or illegal substances, although “even that was fun. It was fun to see girls have a little bit of a bar fight.”
And what would Hall include?
“I’d include [Adventure Girl] Stefanie because she makes me laugh.”
Kirsten Akens is a freelance writer, traveler, and restorative yoga evangelist. She’s a lover of books, Boston terriers, blogging, (cowboy) boots, Browncoats & baked goods. And she has an unnatural affection for alliteration. Follow Kirsten @kirstenakens on Twitter.