Regina King delivered a tearful and moving speech on Sunday when she won the Academy Award for best supporting actress for her role in If Beale Street Could Talk. The 48-year-old actress thanked the film’s director, Barry Jenkins, and paid tribute to James Baldwin, who wrote the 1974 book with the same title.
“To be standing here, representing one of the greatest artists of our time, James Baldwin, it’s a little surreal,” said King. “James Baldwin birthed this baby; Barry, you nurtured her, you surrounded her with so much love and support and so it’s appropriate for me to be standing here because I’m an example of when support and love is poured into someone.”
At one point during her speech, the award-winning actress became emotional as she thanked her mother, who sat in the audience. “Mom, I love you so much. Thank you for teaching me that God is always leaning — always has been leaning in my direction,” she said.
King picked up her first-ever Oscar nomination and win and after more than three decades of working in Hollywood. She launched her career back in 1985 when she landed a role in the television sitcom 227. She then made her film debut in the cult classic Friday in 1995. Since then, she has starred in the blockbuster film Jerry Maguire and has appeared in a number of hit films and television shows, including Enemy of the State, Ray, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, and The Big Bang Theory.
Below is an exclusive interview with the actress from 2011. King, who today boasts a net worth of $12 million, opened up about her career, personal finances, and investments.
BLACK ENTERPRISE: As one of the few black actresses that has transcended race through your roles, what is the secret to your mainstream appeal?
It changes with time. When I was younger my unwillingness to compromise saved me from making choices that I might later regret. Then, I became a mother, which taught me patience and that has been a tremendous help in my career’s perseverance. It reinforced my belief that if you are truly committed to doing something and believe it will happen, it will happen in due time. Patience and obedience [to your craft] is key in this industry.
Indeed, and you credit that with helping you wait for the better roles after having been typecast as the devoted or no-nonsense girlfriend or wife in the past?
At one point I was stalled with only those types of roles and I could have continued the wife roles because the offers were there, but I had to believe that the universe would provide another role if I turned one down. I also had to make sure that my finances were in place.
Self-preservation can be difficult in such a fickle industry. What are some practices that have ensured your financial stability throughout the years?
Often we see the big check, but don’t take time to think that it might have to last you all year. The worst thing is living hand-to-mouth. While I’m definitely a shopper, I make smart choices. I’m a huge Target fan and not ashamed to admit that I keep up with what they have new each month (laughs). I do my best not to buy things for the moment and spend less money on trendy items, but invest in timeless classics such as a pump or a watch.
As an actress, what other personal investments do you make for the long haul?
The Screen Actors Guild has a pension plan that you can put money in, which is equivalent to an employee setting up a 401(k) with their company. Whenever I get a big check I make some type of investment. I’ve done many of them in small ($65,000 to $120,000) in 24-hour fitness gyms and the amount of return was genius. People are always going to work out. If you’re going to try to invest, it’s important to take your time and find someone you really trust who can help advise you. I’ve been with my business manager for 13 years and he’s great. Try to keep abreast of business opportunities that fall between the lines of conservative and liberal. You don’t want to be too progressive. When the stocks dropped, I lost very little because I didn’t have any money in stocks. Find different types of investments like a storage company. When folks went bankrupt and lost homes they had to find storage for their personals. Sometimes the most practical items and services are the ones worth investing in.
After your HuffPost op-ed “The Emmys: As White as Ever” did you receive any backlash or did it generate healthy dialogue between you and colleagues?
I think it generated healthy dialogue between people. Those that are around me (black and white) mirror my sentiments, so I wouldn’t say I received a lot of backlash.
Editor’s note: This article originally published on Jan. 25, 2011. It was updated by Selena Hill.