Actor Regina Hall burst onto the scene with the one-two punch of Malcolm D. Lee’s “The Best Man” and Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “Love & Basketball,” but it was the laugh-filled theatrics of Keenen Ivory Wayans’ 2000 spoof comedy “Scary Movie” that made her a star. Almost two decades later, Hall is one of the most in-demand talents working in Hollywood, helping make 2017’s “Girls Trip” into a box-office smash and a critical hit, while in 2018, she had award-winning turns in “The Hate U Give” and “Support the Girls.”
This Sunday, June 2, Hall is in Seattle to attend the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) for an afternoon tribute and a screening of “Support the Girls.” She will also partake in a conversation about her career with Rotten Tomatoes editor Jacqueline Coley. We spoke briefly with Hall over the phone before her visit. Edited excerpts of the conversation follow:
Congratulations on receiving a tribute from SIFF. How are you feeling about that?
It’s wonderful. I think anytime you get honored for something you do it’s special, and the Seattle Film Festival is such an amazing festival. I’m very excited.
Starting with “Girls Trip” in 2017, followed in 2018 with “The Hate U Give” and “Support the Girls,” and now with Showtime’s “Black Monday” starring you and Don Cheadle, has this all felt a little surreal?
It has. I’ve always been happy to be able to work consistently, but this past couple of years have been crazy. But it’s also been just the right pace and just the right tempo. It’s been a really emotional and fulfilling time. As exciting as it is, I’ve also learned so much. Working with Don Cheadle. Working with Sam Jackson [in this June’s “Shaft”]. I’ve suddenly had this opportunity to learn from those who I respect so much. I think that’s been one of the greatest parts of it all.
Could you have ever imagined that when you made “The Best Man” and “Love & Basketball” that almost two decades later you’d be the first African American woman getting a Best Actress prize from the New York Film Critics for “Support the Girls”?
That is insane! That part is still hard to believe. That is shocking. It was shocking to find out that there hadn’t been one. But it was even more shocking to be the first. I actually didn’t believe it. I thought it was a joke at first.
How does one go from being an English major at Fordham and then getting a master’s degree in journalism at New York University to suddenly being one of the most in-demand actresses working in Hollywood?
I don’t know. My mama must have been saying some great prayers. Life takes you in so many turns that you can’t expect. My father passed away my first trimester at NYU when I was in grad school. [He] passed away so suddenly that it really affected me. It changed the trajectory of my life. I’ve always loved film and television. But I loved journalism, too. I always feel like they both are so important when they’re done with integrity. They affect how people think.
I haven’t seen anything about another “Girls Trip.” Are we going to get these ladies back together?
All of us really want to. I know that some of it has literally been scheduling and then some of it has just been if we do this it’s got to be what that right next idea is. We loved the first one. We want to make sure [a sequel] would come from a place that would be real and not just made so we can make money. [“Girls Trip”] was a special movie for women and a real special movie for black women. I know for at least the girls, we all still would love to work together again.
I’d be remiss if I let you go without asking at least one question about “Shaft.” I mean, you get to share the screen with Samuel L. Jackson and Richard Roundtree, how cool is that?
Oh man, it’s amazing! It’s shocking. My brothers used to love “Shaft.” Who knew I’d be Shaft’s baby mama? It’s not a dream that you think is going to happen. I’m a huge fan of, as a person but also an artist, of Sam Jackson. I mean, it’s like I’ve watched Sam in so many movies! But to be able to watch him work next to Richard? Awesome.
A tribute to Regina Hall, 2 p.m. Sunday, June 2; SIFF Cinema Egyptian; 805 E. Pine St., Seattle; $23 SIFF members, $25 general admission, $150 VIP experience includes tribute and reception with Hall starting at 11:30 a.m. at Solo Repair Shop, 1001 E. Pike St., Seattle; siff.net