May 2003
Daddy Day Care : An Interview with Regina King

Interviewed by Lakesha Cash

Daddy Day Care: An Interview with Regina King

As Motherís Day approaches, fathers will have a treat taking their kids to see Daddy Day Care, a hilarious comedy film featuring Eddie Murphy. Playing his wife and mother to their son is Regina King. Playing the mother role is nothing new for her for Regina ďcompletedĒ Cuba Gooding Jr.ís character in ďerry Maguire. Later this summer, she will star with Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde 2 and is currently shooting Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Story with Jamie Fox. In an interview with blackfilm.com, Regina King talks about her role in Daddy Day Care, her other projects, and the roles of black actresses in the industry.


LC: Howís it going?

RK: Itís going great. The film is going awesome. Itís just an incredible experience. Iím talking about Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles story.


LC: What happened when he [referring to Jamie Foxx] got back after the incident?

RK: Actually, I was there for the incident. You canít actually believe everything that you read or write. I will just say you have to be asked to leave some place to refuse to leave.


LC: What does that mean?

RK: It means that he wasnít asked to leave. He was not asked to leave. He wasnít even asked for his ID. I was actually asked for my ID. I think that Iím not supposed to actually talk about it because I donít know what, legally is happening with it right now. But itís just unfortunate. But thatís New Orleans. Itís a corrupt little city.


LC: Diedra Dixon, his sister was really mad?

RK: Well I mean, what can you do? I mean the press has power to do that.


LC: But he was arrested for scuffling with police officers, wasnít he?

RK: Well I mean, if youíre grabbed and you donít know who youíre being grabbed by, you know? Me personally, I know what a LAPD officer looks like but I donít know what New Orleans PD looks like.


LC: And they drive in trucks down there, in concealed cars.

RK: Itís really a corrupt city. Itís just an unfortunate situation. But itís not affecting our shoot at all. Jamie is an incredible guy. I just have to say itís really just weird. Jamieís a person thatís never been in trouble ever, weíve never seen him in a light in any way other than just with another beautiful woman on his side. Thatís it. You think heís guilty of anything? And then thatís it. And then all of a sudden bam! You know?


LC: This role (Daddy Day Care) is a bit of a departure for you. Weíre used to seeing you as the nice, professional, outstanding wife and you get a chance to play slightly naughty.

RK: Slightly naughty (laugh). Yes I am slightly naughty. But once again Iím a strong woman. I have to be that. But thatís one of the things when I auditioned for this role, I was like, ďI gotta get it, I gotta do thisĒ because unlike this film, I was not expecting to actually play a wife for quite some time. I kinda decided I wasnít going to play a wife, I needed to kinda back off being the mother because it seems like thatís all people want me to do, which is a compliment in itself because people are saying you do it well. But when I met Eddie at a concert and he said that he wanted to do this movie with me so Iím not going to tell Eddie Murphy no. Thatís an awesome opportunity so thatís how I changed my mind about being a wife and a mother. I didnít want to be a wife and a mother soon but the wife of Eddie Murphy and the mother, kinda put a different spin on things.


LC: So youíre like Americaís mom because itís been well, Eddie, Cuba, yeah youíre Americaís mom.

RK: I know. I know. I read in one of the Hip Hop magazines that Iím the ďultimate wifey.Ē


LC: Well thereís nothing wrong with that. And youíve done it so well. But what role would you really like to play now. Obviously youíve done this and people call you for that and that can go on for a long time too, which is a good thing.

RK: Itís a good thing you know, hey, if it came down to I need a job and I would rather need the job and itíd be the role to ďwell we know we can have her be the wifeĒ opposed to ďwell she can be the hoíĒ so I would not totally turn my back on it.


LC: But what role do you want to play?

RK: Like any woman thatís a strong physical woman, of course Iíd love to do something athletic and just show my strength physically. But Iím really interested in doing something with a group of women, powerful actresses like myself, black actresses more specifically, thatís like ďThe HoursĒ or something like that. Iíd like to do something with like Latifah and Angela Bassett, just strong, character, driven, heartfelt film.


LC: There are so many stories out there that could be put together just like what youíve said. Production wise, producer wise, have you thought about that?

RK: Iím on the mission now. I am currently looking for those stories and researching them and I do have a couple that are there but arenít developed yet. Thatís kinda the hard part in this business when somethingís not developed. No one wants to write something for free and the studio, if they donít see it, they donít want to buy it. They canít visualize it, they wonít buy it. It comes to dollars and cents and they donít really believe that. But women sell, and especially black women; thatís even double. But we know that we do, weíve seen it happen i.e. Queen Latifah, just most recently Bringing Down The House sold. Right now the door is open, you know, so I put in a doorstop.


LC: Just recently, Halle Berry was on Good Morning America, and basically said, in essence, the problem with black actors and black females is that there really is no problem anymore, that the door is open. Do you really agree with that? Are there no issues anymore?

RK: No it might not be a problem for her anymore and thatís a wonderful thing. The less problems there are for individual actress of color, the better it is for us as a group. But you know, every situation is not always for the people. Sometimes itís an individual thing and youíve gotta do what you gotta do for yourself and hope that, thatís going to spread, that itís gonna open things for others.


LC: Larry Elder, I was listening to his show by chance and he brought it up, I think his philosophy is there really are no more racial problems, prejudicial problems for black people in this country. Thatís basically his philosophy. So Iím asking you as a black woman in the business, I mean are we putting restraints on ourselves by that kind of thinking or does it really exist in a world that maybe Larry Elder has left.

RK: In Larry Elderís world, that maybe so. Thatís wonderful that Larry Elder has experienced that. That is great for him. Seriously, if he can actually say that then, thatís his experience.


LC: My point is Larry Elder tells a lot of people that, primarily white people, and he affects a lot of attitudes. This is no joke now.

RK: Thatís why I said everything for some people is an individual thing and I think that there are times when you must approach things as an individual and do whatís best for you. But then there are moments when you do, as people of color, have to look at the bigger picture and think about things that we say before we say them. I actually read an article, not too long ago, in USA Today, where the producer/director of Deliver Us From Eva said that now if he goes into a studio and he says that he has Gabrielle Union or Vivica Fox attached to a project, it will be green lit. Thatís not true. It might happen at certain studios, but thatís not true. He canít walk into Universal and just because he has Vivica Fox attached to the project, theyíre gonna say, ďalright, yeah letís do it.Ē Thatís not true. And you are right, when you do make some of those statements, some people that arenít black or the people who actually have the money to do everything think ďoh well, you know, itís not that bad.Ē So you are right, we do have to be responsible for some of the things that we say or think about them before we say them, or say them within our own groups and let us talk about it and hatch it out between each other before we make certain statements. I donít know, I donít think most people take Larry Elder too seriously. I donít think so. I think a lot of white people, not to just single out white people, at least the ones I know personally, donít really take him that seriously. To the point that some of the things that they say, theyíll even say ďdid you hear what uhĒ - and of course theyíre gonna ask me Ďcause Iím black and heís black - ďwhat he said about. . .Ē I donít remember. It may have something else silly that he said not too long ago. But I donít think people really take him that seriously.


LC: I would not take him lightly. I really wouldnít. This guy is syndicated all over the country. He has people listening.

RK: Yea. Heíll probably crucify me when this comes out.


LC: Iím not saying that heís some kind of disciple and that people are going to follow his every heeding but heís talking to people who like what heís saying. And there are millions of people who like to hear what heís saying.

RK: Yea, there are millions of people out there who like to hear what heís saying but, right now, they arenít the general consumers. The general consumers are younger than that, the ones who are actually going out and buying the movies and going to see the movies, donít really know who Larry Elder is.


LC: But I think the real question, at least what I get from that is, when I see Legally Blonde 2, I think of Regina and I donít think of Reese because Iím not going to be interviewing Reese. Sheís not my audience. And I think the question at least for me would be, is it possible today, as you are same age, for you to have the kind of career this girl has had when your credits and resume are certainly just as and if not more so, impressive and thatís the question. Has Halleís success, her win, has it truly broken the glass? Has Halle been offered the contract to do ten movies the way Alicia Silverstone was after Clueless? After doing almost probably a billion dollars at the box office, is Regina able to go in the studio and say ďI want to do a movie on Bessie Coleman, I need $50 million?Ē

RK: But youíre right, no. Like I said earlier, thereís a doorstop in the door right now. The whisper of the possibility is there. I just think that there definitely are more opportunities but itís still a ďgood time struggleĒ for us. You know what I mean? Iím not like, I canít believe sheís getting 15 million for a movie and sheís just done this one thing. Thatís what it is. Iím really happy and I really do love my life and I have an incredible husband and little boy that are my world. So I canít hold on my back that, man we donít get any breaks because we do, and weíre going to get more and I think all of us are trying to work to create more.


LC: Talk about Legally Blonde 2 for just a little bit, we didnít see anyone of color in Legally Blonde.

RK: Thatís why I said about Larry Elder that I donít think that many people take him that seriously because the director of Legally Blonde 2 and Reese Witherspoon, the character I was actually playing was actually written for a white woman and they wanted me. They saw Regina King play this part.


LC: But you can say that proves his point.

RK: No it doesnít prove his point. That proves that they recognize a talented person and that they think I was the best person for the job. But that doesnít mean that I can go get a movie green lit. That means that Reese Witherspoon and Charlie [director of Legally Blonde 2] recognize great talent. But neither Charlie nor Reese are financing films.


LC: Can you talk about it [Legally Blonde 2]?

RK: In Legally Blonde 2, I play the chief of staff for Congresswoman Rudd whoís played by Sally Field, an actress who I adore and seeing her work at a young age was one of the reasons that I knew that being an actress was something I wanted to do. I had been doing it all my life but not necessarily getting paid for it, just entertaining the family. My character is similar to the Selma Blair character in the vein that she is the nemesis to Elle, Reese Witherspoonís character. Elle comes to Washington with her blonde ambition and my character is like ďyou gotta be kidding me.Ē And a lot of great stories just kinda come out. Theyíve pretty much followed the same pattern of Legally Blonde and itís funny. Itís got some hilarious stuff in there; her dog ends up being gay. Itís really funny. Itís a funny, entertaining film. I think this one, unlike the other one, is not about the big moral at the end of the day, but it is a movie that encourages people to follow their voice and make sure they have their voices heard.


LC: Motherís Day is coming up next weekend and actually just in time for this film to open. Being a mommy, what is your big wish for Motherís Day? What do you want? What will you be giving and how do you really think this movie will be received opening up on Motherís Day weekend?

RK: Well, I wish for Motherís Day, that the schedule of this movie will change so I donít have to work on Motherís Day. Iím flying my mom into New Orleans to be with me on Motherís Day. And I think that this movie is going to be huge because itís in between two really big action films and two totally different audiences. And just the climate at my sonís school, thatís all the kids are talking about, Daddy Day Care. They are not talking about X-men. They are, but they are seriously ready to see this movie.


LC: How old is your son now?

RK: Heís 7. And the school goes from Kindergarten to 8th grade. And these kids have never ever noticed me before and now the 8th graders are like, ďcanít wait to see Daddy Day Care. It looks funny man!Ē So theyíre excited about it so I think itíll be good. Momís, most of the time, donít want to see the movies their kids want to see and I think this is one of those films that at the end of the film, everyoneís like, ďremember that part when he burped and the bubbles came out?Ē Everyone will have a nice little memory, a nice little chuckle inside of them.


LC: To go back to what we were talking about earlier about you being every mom. What are the attributes that you feel that you embody that makes people, over and over again select you to play the wife, to play the mother, to play that person?

RK: I think part of it is being a mom and a wife in real life and just knowing what my husband is needing and how much Iíve had to change from being a single independent woman to a wife. Itís a major change. And I think that a lot of actresses are single and are not aware of the sacrifices and changes that you do make in becoming a wife and a mom. Especially a wife, man! Iím not even talking about that you donít even have any other partner; Iím talking about the day to day sacrifices that you make. So probably, not saying that any other actresses arenít great at what they do, but it might be just that one little thing is more believable because I actually do experience it day to day.


LC: What does spirituality mean to you and how do you practice that? I mean weighing all these sacrifices, motherhood, wifedom, and a verging career. I would think thereíd have to be something that keeps you a little more grounded with yourself.

RK: Well I think your spiritual foundations starts from a child, from your family, your mom usually is the one that, not necessarily creates it but brings it to your attention. To let you know about it, to let you know that you have it, lets you know what it is when youíre feeling it because a lot of times, you feel it. As children we feel some moments when weíre spiritually charged but we donít know what it is until someone defines it for you. I just think when your heart and your mind and spirit are aligned, youíre always spiritually grounded.


LC: Regina, what moment stands out in your illustrious career Ďcause youíve got so many things and worked with so many great people? But is there that one moment that stands out when you say ďwow that was really awesome?Ē

RK: Oh wow, probably right now, working on this Ray Charles story. Jamie and I just shot a scene and afterwards we just like held each other, like wow. I canít tell you because itís going to give up the movie, but itís just this moment in the movie where my character and his character have just gone as far as we can go and we have to leave each other and itís sad, itís strong. We knew it was going to be a big scene but until youíre in it and everything is bursting out of you and afterwards itís just like ďwhew, damn we did that man, boy, whew, did they say lunch?Ē


LC: Eddie Murphy has become really good at playing these characters where heís a father, or just a goofy kind of a guy, based on where he came from, is this where he belongs?

RK: Oh, without a doubt! Heís given me the opportunity to know how powerful it is. Although I know how much my child loves these children movies, but the fact that his mom is in one right now, you should see just how his eyes just light up. Before the commercial of a movie that Iím in would come on and it wasnít really that much of a big deal. But this movie, and itís Daddy Day Care and itís about the daddy. He just loves it. And he loves all of Eddie Murphyís movies, Dr. Dolittle, we have to buy the DVDs when they come out. So Iím grateful for him to be a black man giving our children that person, their favorite dad, their favorite funny guy. You know? He knows it. He knows what heís doing. That man got five kids. He knows what heís doing.


LC: Thanks

RK: Thank You