TIFF 2018 Exclusive: Regina Hall Talks The Hate U GivePosted by Wilson Morales
October 1, 2018
Opening up this week (Oct. 5) in limited theaters before going nationwide on Oct. 19 from Fox 2000 is the highly anticipated film adaptation of best-selling YA novel The Hate U Give.
Based on the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller by Angela Thomas, The Hate U Give is a timely, powerful and thought-provoking story of race and identity, told from the perspective of Starr Carter, played by Amandla Stenberg. Starr is constantly switching between two worlds: the poor, mostly black, neighborhood where she lives and the rich, mostly white, prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. What Starr does-or does not-say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
Directed by George Tillman Jr. (Soul Food, Men of Honor, Notorious) from a screenplay by Tina Mabry and Audrey Wells, the film also stars Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Lamar Johnson, Algee Smith, Common, Issa Rae, Anthony Mackie, K.J. Apa, and Sabrina Carpenter.
For Regina Hall, who recently starred in Support The Girls, her role as Starr’s mom and Mav’s wife brought out the black love we rarely get to see on the big screen, especially when dealing with crisis.
Blackilm.com had the opportunity during the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival to speak with Hall about her role in the film, working with the cast and what she knows about Girls Trip 2.
This is not so much of a departure, you’ve played dramatic roles before, but this is totally different from what you’ve been doing recently. What was the attraction to doing this?
Regina Hall: I just, you know anytime I respond to a script and material and then I love the director and his vision and the cast. I’m a big fan of George and “The Hate You Give” was such a massive book, so it was kind of a no-brainer to be able to be involved in that kind of project. And then, like, knowing George’s vision and then knowing the time that we’re in and you know how poignant the subject matter was. And then the lens through which it was told, I just thought it was really smart and interesting and impactful.
Did you read the book before or afterwards when you got the script?
Regina Hall: I read the script first and then I read the book. Well, I had started reading, I should say, a little bit of both. I had started reading the book, then I got the script, and then I finished reading the book.
Can you about the character your playing. You’re playing a mom to the central character whose going through a lot, and she’s very protective of her family, but how would you best describe her?
Regina Hall: I would say that Lisa is strong in a way that we usually don’t see mothers. I think sometimes we see when there’s a father present, that the father is strong and the mother is supportive and a little bit cow-towing to his strength. I think they are equal in their household but she’s respectful that he is the head of the household and he is respectful of her. And I think she’s also a mother that’s much like Star in that she was born and raised in the hood, in Garden Heights. She had a young pregnancy and although she did go to private school, her life changed a lot in her decision to be with Mav, who had a baby early, which put a lot of responsibility on her and then she went to nursing school. So I think she’s also a mother that wants her daughter to have a bigger life than she did.
Is there any trait from that character that you can relate with?
Regina Hall: I have a lot of traits of Lisa, like her caring, nurturing, respect for her husband and honoring that relationship. Yeah! And I just think there’s a wisdom. It’s been a painful wisdom that she’s had. But I think I just relate to that, struggle. I don’t want to say struggle, cause struggle implies something negative, but to that portion of a black woman that has been through things, seen things. Whether it’s though her own eyes and then also, her parents eyes and her grandparents eyes. So I think there’s a lot of things that I just see, and there’s just stuff in my DNA. A lot of what that is, is just inherent and just being a black woman.
Was this a film you needed to do research on? Whether it’s relating to the character living in a bad area, talking to a someone who was killed by the cops, and anything else?
Regina Hall: The book gave you everything about the relationships but it’s just being accessible to the relationships between the people you’re working with. Making that family unit feel strong. And then being dropped in emotionally. But, a black girl from D.C. In America, period. When you’re in America, the American system is, and it’s not to say that obviously these things aren’t global. But what it is in America is its specific and there’s a specificity that can’t be denied. Cause I have black brothers, I got a daddy. Any time you’ve loved a black man, you’ve seen him, you’ve seen his struggle. And then that becomes a part of what you take on emotionally.
There’s a lot with your character, that a lot of people, when I saw it, they loved. They loved that strong black family, they loved how you supported the husband. They see the love on-screen. When you’re doing this movie and you’re working with the script, is that something you and George went over? Did you have to talk to him about maybe, tweaking something about your character? Or was it all on the page?
Regina Hall: I think that he definitely wanted that. He talked to us about it and actually before we spoke to him, Russell and I talked about it. We talked about our relationship, our history. How old he was when he made that decision. What happened that day, the weeks before. You know what I mean? So that we could really establish what we went through to be able to be strong enough for Lisa to handle the situation. And not just handle the situation that he’d had a baby, but handle the situation where Lisa was going to love that baby. It’s one thing to be like, he had a baby, I’m not dealing with it. It’s another thing to say, you’ve had a child, we have a child. This is my child as well. I will love him. I will love him, as I love you. And we made a decision. We also made a decision that when he’s teaching and doing stuff, Lisa was not going to say, that’s too harsh. The scene getting out of the car, where he’s giving the ten point program, that felt harsh. It was a decision for me to stay on the side, I didn’t want to go into the scene. I felt like, we just saw him get slammed on the pavement.
As painful as it is for her, it is necessary in his mind and therefore, it’s necessary in hers. It was a weird thing, cause I didn’t want to make her submissive, I really wanted to honor our relationship and love. And that black man being respected by his woman as well.
Earlier this year, you had Support The Girls, in which you play the mother figure to all these female characters in the film and here you’re playing the mother, the actual mother in this movie. For those who know your background, it’s been a long range. From comedic to different ranges. When you’re looking at the projects you do, is this the more appealing aspect as you’re growing older?
Regina Hall: Well, I mean, I think as you grow older, you have to look at that. You have to transition. You have to think of longevity, what roles have impact. What roles show your range. And when I started, I was much younger obviously, so I could play the stripper and I could go and do craziness in “Scary Movie.” But that’s not even personally, where my own mindset is. Now it’s different muscles to stretch. Even in “Support the Girls”, where she looked so crazy. But it was so interesting because there’s an emotional exploration there.
Now, obviously I still do comedies. “Girls Trip” was a comedy. And “About Last Night” was a comedy, but it’s a different type of outrageousness, that as you evolve, so that your audiences who have grown up and the new audiences can experience you as a woman and not as a girl. So, I feel really blessed to still have a career, a thriving one. Every time I work, I feel like I’m working with so many people I learn from. Now I’m working next with Don Cheadle and that’s exciting to me cause I’ve been a huge, huge fan of his.
Yeah, continuing to evolve and age like a wine.
It was good to see you and Issa Rae working together again in this film after you appeared in Season 2 of Insecure.
Regina Hall: And then we have “Little” coming out, where we’re not in a serious level at all. Back to comedy, but now I’m Issa’s boss, so that’s been really fun. I’m a huge fan of hers.
Where are we with Girls Trip 2? Where would you want to see your character next?
Regina Hall: Gosh! I don’t know. That’s a big thing. We talked about it and we’ve run ideas and I’m kind of excited to see what they’re going, I have no idea. I don’t know where we’re going, I don’t know. I’m like, what’ll they get into? What’s next? I got to call Kenya, and be like, “Kenya, what are you writing over there?” I’ve been wondering. I have no idea, but I’m really excited, I try to squeeze stuff out of Kenya.
That’s going to be the new talk, when’s the next “Girl’s Trip”? Because for a long time, they were like, when’s the next “Best Man”? And next year is the twentieth anniversary. You have a range of films and sequels. Even as your still doing comedy, no more Brenda?
Regina Hall: I love Brenda. You know what I mean? If there were the right situation, obviously the last Scary Movie, “Scary Movie 5“.
Which Malcolm directed.
Regina Hall: I know. It wasn’t the right thing for Brenda, because I don’t think there’s Brenda without Cindy. And so, when there’s no Anna (Faris), you know what I mean. There’s something about that relationship and, so we’d have to see like what scenario those two. Listen, Brenda’s one of my favorite characters, still that I’ve every played. It’s probably my most quoted. I have people come up to me and still do lines from “Scary Movie” and so, that’s kind of wonderful. They love Brenda. No, I love Brenda too.
If you haven’t read the book, “The Hate You Give”, what a good reason to see it?
Regina Hall: There’s so many different perspectives in that movie, I feel like, there’s a [inaudible 00:11:21] to. You know what I mean. It’s emotional. I think Amandla gives such a good performance, I think people will not have seen. For black people it’ll be incredibly wonderful to see representations of a working class, solid family. A lot of times we show middle class and that’s good. Mav and Lisa work hard, they love their kids and to see the perspective of how these tragic brutalities and shootings affect families. A lot of times we see on television, like a name, a ticker tape, like this is all [inaudible 00:12:05] and we go back to life. I feel like “The Hate You Give” is an experience of that, more than just like, a newsfeed.