After 30 years on-screen, King takes her talent behind the camera. TV producer Mara Brock Akil has seen the magic.

The first time I saw her on 227, I remember thinking, who is this? I loved it. I loved her, But I’ll never forget Regina in Boyz In The Hood—she just gave me life. Even now, I can still picture that party scene in the backyard, and it’s all because of her. The energy just lifted whenever she was on the screen. Watching her performance made me realize that not only was she an artist but she was also destined to be one of our best, one of our finest. 

Regina’s talented, she’s professional, she’s personable. She knows her stuff too, and her résumé, which is massive, reflects that—from Jerry Maguire and Southland to 24 and Ray, for which she so deserved an Oscar nomination. I’ve always wanted to work with her, so after sharing cursory meetings at parties and events over the years, I finally had a “nerd moment” and told her so. I’ll never forget Regina’s response: “What do you mean you want to work with me? I want to work with you!” That was three years ago. 

When the time came, I reached out to her about a role on Being Mary Jane, but she made it very clear that she wanted to direct. She also told me how she would be an asset to the show and what she wanted to achieve as a director. I listened to her and I heard her. Everything in life, everything in this business, is a leap of faith, so I thought, What better leap to take than with someone as committed and passionate as Regina King? 

There’s so much work to do, so many stories that need to be told, and she’s now able to do it from an acting perspective and a directing perspective. Along with being so hungry, still, Regina’s armed with the knowledge and experience to execute all of it successfully. And it feels as if she’s just getting started.

This feature was originally published in the March 2015 issue of ESSENCE, on newsstands now!