Give Queen Regina King all of her flowers. Long known as an underrated treasure in Hollywood, King is underrated no more. She has graced the big and small screens for decades and proven there’s no role she can’t tackle. Known for her humility, grace and of course, her style, what has made King most irresistible is her versatility — propelling from child star to now one of Hollywood’s most in-demand actresses and directors. Not to mention, a mantle of awards to match (including an Oscar and four Emmys to be exact).
We got to watch her play the superhero that we’ve always dreamed of in her role as the avenger Sister Night on HBO’sWatchmen, projecting an image of #BlackGirlMagic that is as fearless as she is forceful. And now we’re witnessing her greatness behind the camera with her feature directorial debut One Night in Miami.
Though her road has been met with obstacles — especially as a woman of color — King has shown that when Black women aren’t invited to the table, they build their own. And on this day, and everyday, we celebrate Queen King. In honor of her 51st birthday, here are King’s most recognizable, but underrated roles that made you fall in love with her over and over again.
You don’t really get to know someone until you take a road trip together, which we learned from watching Justice, Lucky, Chicago and Iesha’s in John Singleton’s Poetic Justice. As the best friend of Justice, this role elevated her from the child star we all knew and loved in 227, to a woman — often stealing the show from the films main characters (and mega stars at the time): Tupac and Janet Jackson.
Boyz n the Hood
Boyz n the Hood is certifiably a hood classic. Featuring talent that has gone to be some of Hollywood’s most in-demand Black actors (Morris Chestnut, Ice Cube and Laurence Fishburne), King played the quick-witted Shalika, best friend to Brandi. Who could forget, “How do you know God’s a he? He can be a she. You don’t know that.”
A Thin Line Between Love and Hate
Don’t let social media fool you, good girls are always in style. King showed us this when she starred as Mia in A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, the childhood best friend of Martin Lawrence’s character Darnell.
“Show me the money” may have been the most memorable line from Jerry McGuire, but King’s performance as Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.)’s wife Marcee was hardly forgettable.
How Stella Got Her Groove Back
Who could ever forget Regina King’s role as the protective younger sister in 1998’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back? Although she wasn’t the lead, this is one of the roles that solidified her as Black Hollywood elite, starring alongside the incomparable Angela Bassett.
A Cinderella Story
What would life be like if we all had Regina King as our fairy godmother? A lot of reads, but also a lot of love, and a lot of motivation. “Yes you can, and you will,” she quipped in the reimagining of the classic story of Cinderella, alongside Hilary Duff.
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde
The sequel to Legally Blonde was well received for one reason and one reason only: Regina King. In Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, King played Grace Rossiter, a congresswoman’s Chief of Staff, in a role that is quite possibly what all Black women face each day: having to deal with mediocre white women in the workplace.
Who could forget the infamous baby oil scene in This Christmas? Considered to be a scene for the ages, King stole the movie in what is considered to be one of the most epic ways to deal with a cheating husband in history (before you leave him). Take notes sis: convince him to take a shower, cover the floor in baby oil, and then beat him like King did!