Regina King Says Winning Awards at Black Shows Doesn’t Equal Power In a Predominantly White Hollywood

Multifaceted talent Regina King is a Hollywood veteran having worked in film and television for just over 30 years.

With her decades-long career, King has witnessed the entertainment industry slowly make moves to become more inclusive, more acknowledging and celebratory of artistry created by African-Americans.

“One Night in Miami” tells the fictional account of a real story of Muhammad Ali (then still known as Cassius Clay), Sam Cooke, Malcolm X and Jim Brown meeting in a Miami hotel room on the night Ali won the heavyweight boxing title from Sonny Liston in February 1964. (Photo: @iamreginaking/Instagram)

During the 2020 awards season King reached new levels of success as Hollywood applauded her directorial efforts with “One Night in Miami,” a film led by an all-Black and male cast. But even while riding the wave of newfound star power, King was not remiss about pointing out Hollywood’s lingering problem of not having diverse guilds that hold the voting power for awards.

It’s a reality the Oscar winner has not shied away from publicly acknowledging, even if it is uncomfortable.

“I can say that I have to call it how I see it. Especially with the HFPA, it’s been a lot of things that have been questionable for a while,” King explained to Entertainment Weekly. In February the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globe Awards was called out for not having a single person of color on its 87-member board of voters. 

“You don’t want to shame anyone who is so excited about being recognized by the HFPA. You don’t want anybody to feel like they shouldn’t take their moment, nor do you want the HFPA to continue the practices that they’ve had of exclusion thus far,” she continued. 

Part of the conflict is recognizing that an Oscar, Actor’s Guild or Emmy win each help stars have a sense of earning power as they navigate their careers. Sadly, King says winning at shows designed to give Black artists their roses does not carry the same weight in an industry known for snubbing Blacks.

“[T]he reality is while we do appreciate the BET Awards and the NAACP Image Awards, unfortunately a nomination or a win in that space does not actually translate to power in the bigger space,” she explained. “That’s just a reality. We can pretend like that’s not true, but it is.”

Even knowing that reality, fellow actress Viola Davis, herself an Oscar winner, says awards shows honoring Black people are still needed.

“What I will say about Hollywood is the same thing I say about Black history, that actors and artists of color, we are artists, we belong in the same conversations as everyone else,” Davis said when explaining the “cloak of invisibility” Black actors are often covered by. “And it’s because a lot of times we are forgotten, or not held in as much esteem as sometimes our white counterparts is why we need NAACP Image Awards, is why we need Essence Luncheon.”

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