Regina Hall shines in Malcolm Lee’s new film Girls Trip

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Regina Hall Takes The Lead!
Posted by Dominga Martin

July 15, 2017

Regina Hall shines in Malcolm Lee’s new film Girls Trip

The New Orleans heat was sweltering.  The ESSENCE festival is in full effect.  Black women have converged on this magical, musical city to feel the empowerment of celebrity women and entrepreneurs who have reach the pinnacles of success, and have come to share their journeys with women seeking to be uplifted, searching for sisterhood and looking forward to good ol’ NOLA fun!

I found myself anticipating the interviews for the film “Girls Trip” as I walked familiar streets shown in the film or stepped into the ESSENCE exhibit hall to feel the VIBE of what it must’ve been like to film this movie, in real time, with a real audience, in the hot ass heat—and never let anyone see you sweat.  Literally.  The ladies in the film “Girls Trip” are in tact.  Their make-up.  Hair.  Fashion and realness.  This film embodies the empowerment that every little girl aspires to be when she thinks of herself as an ESSENCE woman who is Black Girl Magic.  Jada Pinkett-Smith, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish and Regina Hall have a summer hit that sizzles.

I sat quietly wrapping up interviews with cast members of the film, in addition to Director Malcolm Lee and Producer Will Packer. The air conditioner was cool in this restaurant held for journalists and TV crews.  I was offered a drink from the bar at high noon.  I chose water.  It was very hot, and who walks in uncool as a cucumber in a dope white dress and heels, is Ms. Regina Hall.  Petite.  Naturally Beautiful.  Just like in her movies.

Every few years there’s an “It Girl” that has all the buzz and over the last few years, although long overdue, Regina Hall has been steadily climbing to leading lady status.  For those of you just catching on, Regina captured our hearts as “Candy” in Director Malcolm Lee’s first film: “The Best Man” where she played a stripper with a heart.  You wanted to see more of her.  She had a softness with depth and range, and although her role was short, she left a lasting impression.

She would move on to appear in the Scary Movie franchise, and later hook up with Producer Will Packer to star in his movies: Think Like a Man, Think Like a Man Too and About Last Night.  She would also return to her roots, to reignite her role as Candace in “The Best Man Holiday,” Malcolm Lee’s follow up to The Best Man.

Now, both Will Packer and Malcolm Lee join forces to produce this summer’s hit: Girls Trip, where Regina plays leading lady Ryan—a successful author, in a relationship with a “has been” football star portrayed by Mike Colter (Luke Cage).  Together they are a dynamic duo that everyone admires, but the truth is, they’re living a lie.

Regina tackles the role of Ryan with sophistication and sensitivity, creating a character with such emotional depth that one visibly sees her holding herself together as all falls apart.  She has grown as an actor since her Best Man days and comedies, and rises to the occasion as a woman who is at the pinnacle of her career, selling herself short to keep up appearances.  When asked about the dynamics of this role, she responds:

“There’s a truth that only you walk with.  So when you live a lie, it really eats you.  You have to know that you’re worth more than what people think.  Your worth is in your honesty ‘cause that sets the example BIGGER THAN any book you’ll ever write.“

Her character “Ryan” is an author and self help expert, yet she is quietly living in the shadows of her failing personal life. Truth is:  She can’t even help herself.  It is a face that most successful women who have walked in Ryan’s shoes have endured.  “I think that’s the reason why people liked “Lemonade” so much because of the honesty of saying: ‘I’m a woman, and this has happened to me.’ That’s where we find our commonality.  That’s where the humanity comes in.”

Regina joins a cast of heavy hitter women including Jada Pinkett-Smith and Queen Latifah who have not shared the screen since their 90’s film hit “Set It Off”

Jada, adds “grown woman” flair as “Lisa” a nurse and single mother who used to be wild and fun, and now simply: uptight.

Queen Latifah steps in as “Sasha” a celebrity blogger selling her soul for advertisement because she’s broke.

And new comer Tiffany Haddish who turns the film all the way up as “Dina”.

“If I could identify with one of the characters it probably would be Ryan—because I’m also reserved… (thinks) well, my friends would say no…BUT I would say, yes…”

Laughter…

“And I have my degree and masters in journalism, so the part of her that’s a writer…and you know I’ve had relationships that it’s been time to get out of–that I’ve been in, so I would say Ryan.”

She continues:  “The thing I like about it though is that there are bits of speckles in all of them which I can relate to.”

Together, the 4 friends in the film plan to reunite on a long overdue GIRLS TRIP to New Orleans.  Where they will catch up and reignite their “back in da day” girl crew known as: “The Flossy Posse.”  trouble ensues…secrets are uncovered and the truth must be revealed.  Girl’s Trip is a wild ride that is howling funny and a film perfect for re-bonding or just a girls night out.

“I know what it is to have a group of women who are all so different…and there’s so much history between you, and that’s the thing. There’s a lot of vulnerability between girlfriends because they know so much, and I don’t mean about having dirt on you, I’m talking about things that have emotionally impacted you.   Knowing what your insecurities are [and] you’re able to share all of that with them and still never feel threatened or feel judged [and so you know], I have friends who do that for me.”

What I, as a viewer enjoyed about “Girls Trip” is it’s portrayal of black women in all of our dynamic colors.  It is multidimensional and on target.  When asked what she is most proud of in making this film, Regina answers:

“That black women love it…we were very conscious of having a movie where black women would feel represented, and not just my generation…younger, older, my grandmother…to see themselves as fully grounded, sexual, smart, intelligent, crazy, vulnerable, insecure, completely sophisticated, powerful…every dynamic that we are; we wanted [collectively] those women to be [and] we wanted those relationships to have the feeling of how supportive we are—-you know, culturally we are so supportive as a people, but black women–we hold each other up and I think now, in this day and age, especially with reality television, all we see is fighting and our relationships are so much deeper than that.  Reality TV doesn’t show the warmth and even though we may disagree, obviously there’s a forgiveness and a compassion that is in our DNA and we rock with that.”

She adds:

“I like that they don’t all have money, because that’s not all success is.  Those are not the bonds that keep you…I like that they can be at different places and still meet at the same place.  I just think for us, we want black women to feel proud.”

Rounding out this cast are #blackboyjoy actors Larenz Tate (Love Jones), who plays an old college friend of Ryan…there is some heat rising, yet untouched.  New comer, Kofi Siriboe (Queen Sugar) plays the sexy boy toy to Jada’s character—-where the audience is taught a thing or two about how useful a grapefruit can be!

These 4 women on screen were reminiscent of your best nights and sleepovers with your best girlfriends.  Yet, it was the actual support system of her cast mates that amplified the realness we felt as audience members.

“It was great to have Jada and La, and to ask them ‘Is this authentic?’ because they’ve both had rumors, they’ve been in the public eye…and knowing what you have to balance between perception and reality and having those women say, ‘you are really selling yourself short’, and Ryan really was…in a big way…especially in the age of social media where everything about our life is on blast…you can’t get caught up in that…and so many people [now] can create whatever life they want on Instagram or on Facebook…and I think people have gotten caught up in that, but the truth is…that’s not the truth.”

“My advice is you will never have more joy from what people think than from what you actually feel and who you actually are.”

One of the most exciting real time moments which make Girls Trip so topical is that it was filmed in real time at the ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans.  There is a moment when Ryan’s character has to film her speech in front of a real, live audience.

“That room is big,” says Regina: “So, when we shot in the room it’s like. ‘how are you honest and vulnerable and still open?’  There is no safer audience than a group of black women because the truth is you’re able to reveal the truth there, and get a real response because we’ve all been there to some degree, even if it’s not us, you’ve had a friend or a relative…it was actually great because you can feed off of that Essence energy and Essence is black women empowerment so, you feel that.  I felt that, I felt that at the festival and that particular speech was shot on the first day.  It was a little hard to do because I was like, ‘I’m not ready!’

Ready or not, Regina hit her mark and sealed her place in the hearts of black girls, once again.

“I just want to always do great work that makes me proud and makes other African American women proud.  I love being a black woman more than I could probably be able to put into words.” she states, and continues:

“I try to be divinely led and to see what God’s plan is for me.  I want to make sure that when I close my eyes, God will say well done (pause) what my soul’s purpose is more important…; acting is great [in that] it leads me to what my purpose in service is supposed to be…and I look forward to continuing to see what that is and to give back.”

Regina is doing just that by launching a doggie website: Puff Puff Paws, with the tagline “animals rescuing people.”  Her dog line has a charitable component with each sale, worldwide.

“I think we’re at a place in the world where we have to hold each other up and light really needs to come fourth.  I want to be able to give back because God has blessed me with so much.”

GIRLS TRIP hits theaters on July 21st

Trailer 2

Clip – Lisa meets Malik in the hotel lobby


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