Fun fact: Regina King’s name literally translates to “Queen King,” Regina meaning “queen” in Latin. In case you think you think that’s a coincidence, her sister Reina’s name translates to the same, albeit in Spanish—and the two share a production company called Royal Ties. (Another fun fact: Rihanna is a derivation of Rhiannon, which is “queen” in Celtic.)
But with a name—and bearing—like “Queen King,” I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised at the array of crowns this member of Hollywood royalty has been wearing this awards season; the latest a rowed braided updo on the cover of Vanity Fair’s Awards Extra special issue.
It’s only the latest time in a week fans of the star have seen King rocking a traditional African hairstyle. Eschewing her typical relaxed bobs and chignons, she wore an updo of Senegalese twists to attend the BAFTA awards on Sunday night in London, England. In the back, hairstylist Dionne Smith created an intricate crisscross pattern that perfectly echoed the lines of King’s form-fitting fuchsia Versace gown.
Returning to New York City in time to sit front row at Michael Kors’ Fashion Week presentation, King gave the look a relatable homegirl twist, rocking big gold hoops and a topknot as she cuddled up to homegirl Kerry Washington on the step-and-repeat. Weighing in on King’s incredible and versatile talent as actress, producer and director, Washington tells Vanity Fair:
“If you came to this planet from Jupiter and you watched [Regina] on set, you would not know that her path to directing was through acting ...She speaks so many of the languages of filmmaking as beautifully as the acting part.”
Of course, we should be well-accustomed to King’s reign as a seasoned shape-shifter. Prior to playing the incredibly empathetic matriarchs in If Beale Street Could Talk and Netflix’s Seven Seconds, King imprinted herself on popular culture in a diverse array of roles. Memorably, she’s played Janet Jackson’s sidekick Iesha in Poetic Justice, held her own opposite Cuba Gooding’s Oscar-winning performance in Jerry Maguire (while pregnant with now 23-year-old son Ian, no less), played Ray Charles’ tortured lover and backing vocalist Margie Hendricks in Ray (in which Washington also co-starred), and voiced both Huey and Riley on black cultural touchstone The Boondocks.
And if it seems that King is suddenly everywhere, it’s well-earned, according to friend Gabrielle Union, who relays that King literally saved her from drowning once.
“There are very few people that everybody categorically fucks with,” she says. “[A]nd Regina is just one of those people.”
In Vanity Fair’s pages, King, who was also featured on the cover of their annual Hollywood issue, seems more than poised to shine, as the 48-year-old appears flawlessly fresh-faced in its cover story clearly ready for her closeup in regal ready-for-spring styles by Valentino, Chloé, Dior and more.
“It just feels good being Regina King,” she tells the magazine. It looks pretty good, too.
King also addresses the tremendous responsibility that comes with the power now being afforded her in Hollywood. As she accepted her 2019 Golden Globe, she committed to hiring at least 50 percent women on her sets, moving forward. The pledge sent a ripple effect, as men in the industry, including Tyler Perry, have let her know how she inspired them to do the same. (King, in turn, credits the Time’s Up movements and Frances McDormand’s demand for inclusion riders at the 2018 Oscars.)
“It was important for me to use that opportunity to challenge myself, but also plant a seed in people,” she tells Vanity Fair, admitting that she had her own steep learning curve while advocating for herself as a black actress. “I didn’t think that I was powerless. But I didn’t think that I was powerful.”
Well, there’s little to no doubt of King’s power now. In addition to Vanity Fair’s special issue, she covers The Wrap this month, gorgeously sporting another regal, naturally-textured style created by stylist Angela Perrantes.
Will she continue this culturally representative trend on the Oscars’ red carpet, where she’s the frontrunner for Best Supporting Actress this year? We can only hope—if our beloved King can keep herself safe through awards season!
Crisis averted, indeed. But maybe we should beef up security around the national treasure that is Regina King.
Because we see you, Queen.