Regina King Is TV and Movie Royalty — Here Are Her Career Highlights
With a name like Regina King, it seems like she was always destined to become screen royalty. Over the course of the past three decades, King has become one of Hollywood’s most versatile and reliable actors. She’s starred in everything from fun, witty comedies to dark, thoughtful dramas and even genre projects like Westerns to sci-fi. More recently, King has taken on a bigger role behind the scenes as well, turning her considerable talents to directing.
As you might have guessed, King’s résumé is packed with dozens and dozens of projects, ranging from high-profile award winners to some lesser-known gems. We’re taking a look at some of the most notable TV shows and movies she’s starred in over the years. If you haven’t seen these yet, what are you waiting for?
"The Harder They Fall" (2021)
King tackled the Western genre next, starring as Trudy Smith in this revenge drama. Loosely based on true stories of outlaws in the American West, the movie follows the rivalry between a long-running criminal gang and a newer group led by a man out for revenge. King won another NAACP Image Award for the role, as did the cast as a whole.
"A Cinderella Story" (2004)
Who better to play an updated version of Cinderella’s fairy godmother? King plays Rhonda, the manager of the diner where teenager Sam works. Loyal to Sam and her late father (and despising Sam’s stepmother, the new owner), Rhonda does everything she can to help Sam make it through until she can escape to college. Even without a literal magic wand, she’s the kind of support we’d all love to have in our corner.
"Boyz n the Hood" (1991)
In the iconic 1991 coming of age drama about three young boys growing up in Crenshaw, Los Angeles, King plays the supporting role of Shalika. The movie was King’s feature film debut! She starred alongside other icons like Cuba Gooding Jr., Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, and Ice Cube.
"The Boondocks" (2005-2014)
King takes on voice acting in this adult animated series. She voices Huey Freeman, the 10-year-old son of a Black family that has just moved into a predominantly white suburb. Huey is wise beyond his years, with strong political opinions that often get him in trouble and make him the main mouthpiece for the show’s satire and commentary.
"One Night in Miami..." (2020)
King made her directorial debut with this historical drama. The film tells a fictionalized version of a real meeting between Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke in February 1964, with the four icons celebrating one of Ali’s historic wins. King became the second Black woman to earn a Golden Globe nomination for best director for her work on this movie.
"Poetic Justice" (1993)
King co-stars with Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur in this romantic drama. She plays Iesha, the BFF of Jackson’s character Justice, who convinces her to go on a road trip following her boyfriend’s tragic death. Along the way, they learn more about themselves and about opening up to love again.
"Jerry Maguire" (1996)
Tom Cruise‘s title character might be the most memorable part of this iconic comedy, but King steals all the scenes she’s in. She plays Marcee Tidwell, the wife of Cuba Gooding Jr.’s football star Rod Tidwell. It’s the relationship between Rod and Jerry that forms the backbone of the movie, as sports agent Jerry learns some lessons about business deals versus real partnerships.
"Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde" (2003)
In the “Legally Blonde” sequel, King appears as Grace Rossiter, the jaded chief of staff to a congressman who’s going up against Elle on the matter of animal testing. As Elle lobbies for a bill to ban animal testing, she soon discovers that Washington is full of betrayals and people who will say one thing and do another. In time, though, she comes to find a few kindred minds who admire her hard work and optimism – Grace, surprisingly, included.
"Enemy of the State" (1998)
King plays Carla Dean, the wife of Will Smith‘s character Bobby in this spy thriller. Carla throws Bobby out after a sabotage operation discredits him and makes it look like he’s a double agent and a cheater. As Bobby investigates deeper, he uncovers a web of conspiracies involving sitting members of Congress, a surveillance law, the Mafia, and more, all as he tries to clear his name.
"Daddy Day Care" (2003)
King has a smaller role in this Eddie Murphy comedy vehicle. As Kim, the lawyer wife of Murphy’s character, she takes more of a backseat to the classic mid-2000s, dad-slapstick shenanigans that ensue when a trio of men frustrated by the available childcare options open up their own unique take on a daycare service. When an uptight preschool owner tries to shut them down, they have to prove their value and decide how much they’re willing to do to stand up against her influence.
King reunites with her “Boyz n the Hood” co-star Ice Cube in this comedy classic, which sees two broke friends, Craig and Smokey, fight tooth and nail to come up with $200 to satisfy a local drug dealer. King plays Craig’s sister, Dana, with whom he has a sibling rivalry. So, no, she hilariously doesn’t lend him the money he desperately needs.
"This Christmas" (2007)
In this family Christmas comedy, King plays Lisa, the eldest daughter of the sprawling and messy Whitfield family. When she returns home to spend Christmas with her family, she’s hiding a secret: she knows that her husband is cheating on her. As she spends more time with the people who love her, she gets closer to making a decision on what to do next and whether she should try to “fix” things or dump him and start over.
King made her TV acting debut in this sitcom, which follows the lives of a middle-class Black family in Washington, DC. She plays Brenda, the family’s smart and studious teenage daughter. The show aired for five seasons, and King was a series regular through the entire run.
"If Beale Street Could Talk" (2018)
Three decades into her Hollywood career, King finally took home an Oscar for her role in this film drama. As Sharon Rivers, she plays a mother determined to look out for her daughter and her entire family. When her daughter’s boyfriend is falsely accused of a terrible crime, Sharon does everything she can to uncover the truth and protect her family.
"Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous" (2005)
Another Regina King role in a follow-up to a beloved early-2000s comedy. She plays Sam Fuller, an agent reassigned to be a bodyguard for Gracie (Sandra Bullock) after Gracie is recruited to be the new “face” of the FBI. Where the first movie was more of a rom-com, the sequel is more of an opposites-attract buddy flick, as Sam and Gracie are forced to work together to solve an abduction plot that may have Gracie as its next target.
"Seven Seconds" (2018)
In this Netflix crime drama, King plays Latrice Butler, a wife and mother whose life is changed in an instant. Latrice works as a school secretary, is active in her church, and loves her husband and their teenage son. When her son is in an accident caused by a police officer and the police try to cover it up, she’s thrust into the center of a case with implications reaching far beyond just one family or one town. King won her third Emmy for her performance in this project.
"How Stella Got Her Groove Back" (1998)
King takes on a supporting role in this beloved romantic comedy about Stella, who tries to bounce back from a slump in life and love. King plays Vanessa, Stella’s younger sister. While their other sister, Angela, is less than thrilled about Stella’s fling with a much younger man, Vanessa is much more supportive and happy that her sister is happy.
"A Thin Line Between Love and Hate" (1996)
King plays one third of a twisted love triangle in this 1996 dark comedy. As Mia, she’s the childhood sweetheart and presumed “true love” of Darnell, a playboy nightclub manager. Even as he seduces and cons the women that he meets, he always thinks about how Mia must think of him, but when one seduction goes wrong, the real drama starts.
King tackled a character based on a real person in this award-winning Ray Charles biopic. Her portrayal of Margie Hendrix, a blues singer who works as a backup singer for Charles, covers the years of her personal and professional relationship with the music icon. King earned her first NAACP Image Award and Satellite Award for her powerful performance.
"Higher Learning" (1995)
In this 1995 ensemble drama, King plays Monet, one of several college students dealing with social and racial issues on campus. As their group faces the fallout from a devastating sexual assault, the students find themselves increasingly polarized. Attempts by some, like Monet, to achieve “peace” are often unsuccessful, and the threat of more tragedy looms.
King joined the cast of the thriller “24” as a series regular for its sixth season. As Sandra Palmer, a brilliant attorney and the sister of the president, her arc tied together personal conflicts and global conspiracies. Although credited as a series regular for the season, King actually appeared in less than half the episodes: only nine out of 24 in the season.
As Detective Lydia Adams, King was one of the lead characters for all five seasons on this gritty crime drama. Over the course of the show, she deals with the challenges of balancing her family life with her dedication to her work. King won two NAACP Image Awards for her work on the series.
"American Crime" (2015-2017)
King starred in all three seasons of this anthology series. In the first season, she plays Aliyah Shadeed, the sister of a man connected – possibly wrongly – to a violent crime. In the second season, she portrays Terri LaCroix, the strict mother of a teenage basketball star whose team is rocked by sexual assault allegations. Finally, in the third season, she plays Kimara Walters, a social worker hoping to have a baby in a low-income agricultural community. She won two Emmys for her work in the series.