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‘Do You Want to be on TV or…’: ‘227’ Star Marla Gibbs Says She Gave Regina King a Reality Check After Friends Started to Clown Her Wardrobe

TV icon Marla Gibbs seemingly had a lot in common with her sharp-tongued character Mary Jenkins on the television show “227.” when it came down to her on-screen and off-screen relationship with Regina King

In an interview with People Magazine, Gibbs discussed the stern but motherly advice she gave King, who played the 91-year-old’s daughter, Brenda Jenkins. 

Regina King (left) and Marla Gibbs (right). (Pictured: @marlagibbs4real)

The Primetime Emmy winner recounted when King, who at the time was enrolled in school she attended in person, had an issue with her character’s outfit choices and brought up how she’d received feedback from friends who compared Brenda’s look to a “doofus.”

“Regina went to regular school while on the show,” Gibbs remembered. “Her friends would tell her the clothes her character wore made her look like a doofus.”

Gibbs described her feedback to King as words the up-and-coming actress would “never forget.”  

“I had to tell her, ‘Now, look, do you want to be on TV? Or do you want to be with your friends, watching TV,’ ” she said. 

The “Checking In” actress issued a reminder to King. ”You’re not dressing the way you want to dress,’ ” she said she told her. ” ‘You’re dressing the way I make you dress. We can have an argument about it if you want to.’ She never forgot that.”

The “doofus” comparison wasn’t the only issue King addressed with her character’s outfit choices. According to Gibbs, the future Oscar winner also wondered if Brenda’s clothes caused her to look “too young.”

“I’d say, ‘I’ll tell you one thing: If you get too old, [the producers] are going to send your behind to college, and you won’t be on the show anymore. So be young as long as you can!”

Though it may not have seemed like it because of her harsh words, Gibbs has always rooted for King’s success. In the interview, she even revealed fighting for King, 51, to receive the role of her daughter. 

“I fought for Regina [to be cast],” Gibbs confessed. “She had light brown hair and light eyes and she really looked like Hal [Williams].”

Williams portrayed Lester Jenkins, husband of Mary Jenkins and father of Brenda Jenkins. The five-season sitcom, which aired from 1985 to 1990, also featured Jackée Harry as a sassy, but well-dressed neighbor: Sandra Clark. 

For her role as Clark, Harry, in 1987, would become the first Black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy.

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