From Actress to Auteur: Regina King's Barrier-Busting Directorial Career


Oct. 29 2023, Updated 11:26 p.m. ET

Regina King is no stranger to delivering powerful performances on-screen and has been quietly killing it behind the camera as well. Her transition from veteran actor to director is not just a personal career move — it is a leap that goes against the status quo.

Let’s take a look at her journey from actress to award-winning director.

Regina King's Directorial Projects

Regina's venture into directing began with the critically acclaimed drama, One Night in Miami, released in 2020. Set in a Miami hotel room, the script is a fictional meeting between Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Sam Cook.

It is an impressive directorial debut, demonstrating King’s sharp sense of storytelling and her skill at tackling delicate subjects.

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One Night in Miami is not just a movie. It is an affirmation that King wanted to be heard. The film explores the plight and achievements of these legendary characters and reveals the environment of that decade. Her direction is intimate as if she is a guest in the room watching characters wrestle at the edge of history.

“I felt like I knew all of these men," Regina told CBS News. "I saw my son in these conversations. I saw my father in these conversations. They love, they're vulnerable, they're strong."

She then directed The Harder They Fall, a western with an all-Black cast, where the cowboy narrative is overturned. It shows her strength in overcoming traditional Hollywood stereotypes. Regina’s directorial choices in The Harder They Fall are noteworthy, as she offers a fresh look into a film genre traditionally underrepresented by minority voices.

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Regina King's Impact as a Director

Regina King not only directs movies, but she also creates a niche for herself and future people of color in an industry infamous for exclusion. But directorial success does not only refer to box office numbers. It is about representation, advocating for diversity, and uplifting unseen storytellers.

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“In the next two years, everything that I produce — I am making a vow and it's going to be tough — to make sure that everything I produce is 50% women," Regina said onstage at the 2019 Golden Blobes.

Despite women and people of color being traditionally overlooked in the directorial industry, Regina chooses to thrive in it and is an inspiration to others. She sits well in the director's chair and sends a message that change is good and it is about time. She challenges the belief that only a few people hold the keys to creative storytelling. Apart from her own projects, Regina is empowering marginalized voices to speak for themselves.

Regina King's Future in Directing

Regina’s shift from an actor to a director is a milestone for Hollywood. With more projects ahead, including the highly anticipated film Shirley (2024), Regina is one of the most influential movie stars of the generation. Her talent for telling stories, as a force of positive change, is evidenced in her directing path and proves that her talent knows no boundaries. As audiences eagerly await her next cinematic offering, one thing is clear – Regina is not only a director but a trendsetter.

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