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Regina King: "Comfort Zones Are Where Dreams Go To Die"

The Watchmen star lets us in on the secret to getting unstuck.

Celebrity News

Regina King has been acting for as long as (or in my case, even longer than) most of us have been alive and after 34 years in the industry, the three-time Emmy-winner is playing her most unique role yet in the upcoming HBO Watchmen series (October 20). And as the cover star of Marie Claire's November 2019 issue, Regina is stunning us with her superhero moment. But there was a time when this ass-kicking action hero only dreamed of becoming a dentist.

"My desire to be a career actor was not always my desire. I thought I was going to be a dentist. It's funny because I've dated only one guy with not-so-great teeth, and I dated him for a minute. I never said anything, and after we broke up, he gets his teeth fixed."

Thanks to Regina's mom, the one-day actress was exposed to the arts early in life, and after seeing Eartha Kitt on stage in her childhood, she later ditched her dreams of dentistry and realized that performing was her destiny. After starting her career in the industry at only 14-years old, Regina says that the most important key to consistently slaying the game without getting stuck is stepping outside of the box:

"What's next, you know? I'm very good at choosing what needs to stay with me and what things need to be let go of. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the moment and we don't ever leave that moment, and that's how some people get stuck. I don't know if you ever heard me say, 'Comfort zones are where dreams go to die.'"

From her roles as Riley and Huey Freeman to her directorial work on shows like Being Mary Jane, Scandal, and Greenleaf, Regina has proven both on and off screen that she's a force to be reckoned with and her most recent role as Angela Abar on Watchmen is no different.

While being an ass-kicking, crime fighting vigilante has always been a dream for Regina, she never thought she would be doing it at 48 years old. She told Marie Claire:

"Sister waited until she was almost 50 to be a superhero. It's something I've always wanted to do, you know, be a woman physically kicking ass."

Earlier this year, Regina made a viral speech at the Golden Globes where she announced her mission to make Hollywood a more inclusive space for women, and according to Regina, she's making good on that promise by refusing to turn the other cheek:

"Turn the other cheek? I don't quite believe that. I do believe that sometimes you're supposed to turn the other cheek, sometimes they're supposed to get smacked back, sometimes they're supposed to get knocked the fuck out, you know? And taking that moment to assess the situation will help you."

To read Regina's full interview, click here.

Did you know that xoNecole has a new podcast? Join founder Necole Kane, and co-hosts Sheriden Chanel and Amer Woods, for conversations over cocktails each and every week by subscribing to xoNecole Happy Hour podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Featured image by Giphy

Originally published October 24, 2019.

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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