Regina King

Regina King rocking a short 'do

I recently had the honor and the pleasure of sitting down with Southland star, Regina King. I was truly geeked, because I grew up watching her - from the small screen to the big screen. She began her acting career in the early '80s as the studious Brenda on "227." She went on to appear in the John Singleton films "Poetic Justice," "Boyz N the Hood," and "Higher Learning." You may also remember her as Craig’s sister in "Friday" (still one of my faves!). From there it was blockbuster after blockbuster - "Jerry Maguire," "Enemy of the State," "How Stella Got her Groove Back" and "Ray." But my favorite of all…her starring role in the Adult Swim show "The Boondocks," for which she voices the characters Huey and Riley Freeman.

My nerves were getting to me prior to the interview. But I immediately felt relieved--her down to earth and approachable manner instantly put me at ease. Even with all of her fame and success, she was amazingly personable. It was like talking to an old friend. Regina has rocked every style imaginable- long, flowing styles, waves, bobs, braids, and cornrows. No matter the look, she is always classy and sophisticated - definitely a style icon. Due to her proclivity for straight styles, however, I always assumed she was relaxed. So why the interview you ask? After hearing through the grapevine that she’s a true curly at heart, I had to find out for myself. I was surprised to learn that she had been natural much of her life.

Regina explains, "I was natural all of my life up until two years ago…until I cut my hair. I have always been a press and curl girl. My hair is super thick and coarse, but I’ve never felt like ‘Oh gosh, I wish I had softer hair,’ other than when I was wearing my hair short before. I was like 19 or 20, still natural, and I had cut my hair - long enough that you could still press it, but short enough that it was an ordeal. That was the only time that I can remember wishing that it wasn’t so kinky, especially when I’d go swimming.

"But other than that, with it being so thick, I never had any problems around hair health or growth. Water, oil, and a brush could do wonders with healthy, kinky hair that grows normally and doesn’t break off. I never did my own hair, especially after I started working regularly. Plus, I never really got the feel for styling the back of my head…I felt like a contortionist." She went on to explain her reasons for cutting and relaxing in the first place, "I was so tired of my ponytail and feeling just…blah. But when you have hair of a certain length, it’s so easy to pull it back and keep it moving. My workout schedule and busy lifestyle made it difficult to keep a hair ‘do. I feel that most women look good with a sleek bun. I’ve actually never encountered a woman who doesn’t…even the ones who complain of having a big forehead. All you need is a great pair of earrings and you’re good to go. It’s an elegant, timeless style, but can, at times, become a crutch. And that’s what happened to me - I was perpetually in a bun or pony."

Regina King

Regina King at the Heart Truth show at Fashion Week 2010

She was looking for a change, a drastic one. Cut or color. Those are the usual suspects, but she’s not a color girl, and felt drawn to a cute cropped ‘do… a pixie cut with longer bangs. It was the cut that inspired the relaxer. She commented, "I have the type of cut that, with this type of hair, and the look I was going for, requires a perm. I definitely will not be perming my hair for the rest of my life, though. I can guarantee you that. I will be chopping soon. Trust."

The cut is fierce. But I couldn’t help but wonder what her issue with color was. She explained, "For some reason, I’m a punk when it comes to color. I only use semi permanent, ‘cause I’m just scary that way. But there is no apparent reason why I’m okay with getting a perm, but not okay with color. None whatsoever. I don’t know, maybe it's the smell of color…but I guess the smell of perm is horrible, too. I don’t know, Nikki!" [Laughter] I can tell you that I definitely will not be continuing this perming thing. But I’m going to enjoy my current look - I’m loving it. And at the end of the day, it's just hair, and it will grow back.

When asked about her adjustment to and maintenance of the style, she stated, "It did take some getting used to. During the first 6 months after cutting my hair, I felt like I always needed to have earrings on. But in the past year or so, I find myself going without earrings a lot. I’m much more comfortable now. The upkeep is pretty easy but I do have to get it cut like every 2 weeks. It grows so fast! Other than that, I wrap it at night and it has got enough length that I can finger through and pull it over to the side, or push it off my face. And even when it’s oily, it still looks good."

Her hair product faves reach back to her days as a natural. She’s a self-described "oil girl," in love with Jane Carter Solution Hair Nourishing Tonic. She commented, "When you have a short haircut and your hair is black, you really can’t go wrong. When your hair is oily, it just looks shiny and healthy. It kind of gives it a sheen, and keeps it moisturized which is really important when you’re wearing a perm. You need to drink a lot of water to moisturize from the inside out - because that perm will look like hay if you don’t." Her other faves are Carol’s Daughter Lisa’s Hair Elixir and Ojon.

As far as styling, Tash Jennings handles her cuts, color, and perming. And Yvette Shelton, her longtime stylist, does her hair on the set of "Southland." Shelton was also her stylist in her natural days and highly recommends her to L.A. curlies. For her gorgeous skin, she uses a Los Angeles-based product line called Arcona. It’s all natural, and even after years of use, she has never experienced any build-up or residue.

Regina King

Regina King began her acting career in the early '80s and hasn't stopped

I of course asked her about her fitness routine, and her ability to juggle motherhood and her career. Regina says, "I’ve always been an athlete. I ran track when I was in high school and that regime just continued on into my adult life. I try to remain as active as possible. Now that I’m older, just making 40 this year, I ‘m starting to recognize that even if I do workout, I have to watch what I eat. Like it just doesn’t burn off as quickly anymore, and tends to want to stick around in my mid section. It’s something I’ve heard my older friends say. I never believed it, and thought I could just hike an extra mile. But not so much. The older you get, you don’t need as much food, you don’t have to consume as much. You have to train your mind to tell your body that you don’t need the whole plate or a second helping.

"Whenever I’m asked about my ability to handle my mothering responsibilities, I want to make sure everyone knows that I respect all career women…no matter your field or type of work. It’s hard for all of us. Me personally, I have a wonderful support group. I’m one of the people that believe it takes a village. I have only one child, so I’ve been blessed that I’ve never had to have a nanny. I have a great group of friends - my son went to the same school from first to eighth grade, so there were four families that we got very close with, helping each other out whenever possible. My sisters are very close to me and they are present and my ex-husband is very much present in our son’s life."

Regina encourages us to tune into "Southland," the TNT series in which she currently stars. "All of the energy is going towards that, and making sure that there are enough viewers so that we’re picked up for a fourth season." For my own selfish reasons, I asked if the rumors of The Boondocks wrapping their last season was true. She responded, "I don’t know. One moment I hear that we aren’t, then I hear that we are. Last confirmation was that we weren’t. So I don’t know. I have no idea!"

Regina's final message to the CurlyNikki community? "Curly or straight, we’re all fierce! Y’all will get the exclusive when I cut the relaxer out…I may even send a home video!"