Regina Hall is just getting started. The veteran actress burst onto the scene nearly two decades ago in Malcolm D. Lee’ iconic film, The Best Man. Since then, she's been in everything from the Scary Movie franchise to Black-ish. However, the smash success of her the $100 million marvel Girls Trip – another Lee flick, has propelled the extremely busy actress back into the spotlight. “I've been really blessed, and I've always worked a lot,” Hall told me when I asked her if the success of Girls Trip has triggered new roles for her. “I'm not the most social media visible person, even though I do have a page. Maybe people don't know what I'm doing in between stuff. It was great and consistent before, and yeah, I think maybe my options continued to grow, but I think it's been good and it's staying good thanks to (Girls Trip)."
The first time the Insecure actress had even heard of Girls Trip was two years ago. She and producer Will Packer were on an airplane headed to New York for another project. Packer asked her opinion about an idea he had for a film where four friends go to Essence Fest. “Honestly, I was like, ‘What?’," Hall told me reflecting back on that initial conversation. “I didn't know what that was going to be, but I thought about four women going to Essence Fest, and I knew it could be good.” It didn’t take long for Packer to set his plan in motion – bringing on Lee to direct and calling Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver to write the script. “I think a year later there was a script and then we were on set," Hall remembers. “So, it all was a culmination of a perfect storm.”
Now that the critically acclaimed R-rating comedy has grossed a massive $130 million plus at the box office, Hall is still reeling a bit from the insanity that was this past summer. It’s all been an incredible ride for the Naked actress – but it’s also been shocking in some ways. “You never know what a movie is going to be, how it's going to go from paper to an actual film," she said thoughtfully. “I knew that we had a lot of fun. I mean, we laughed a lot. I knew that me and the girls had really created a deep connection and bond, and I knew that part was real. Then the rest you hope for. I don't know if my expectation was where it ended up being, but it was an amazing and wonderful surprise. I think we were just really happy that women who watched it enjoyed it. I think that was what I thought about the most. Even though it was an African American led movie — I wanted all women to receive it and love it, and I wanted Black women to be proud."
As we look back on film and television in the past twenty years—it feels in many ways that a film like Girls Trip could have only happened because of the current state of cinema. Hopefully, this resurgence in Black stories isn’t merely a fad that will cycle back to the wasteland that was the mid-2000s when there were almost no Black cast films or TV shows. Hall has been in the business long enough to see how things ebb and flow—even seeing Girls Trip premiere as a summer flick was huge. “There's always shifts. There are shifts on what they make, on what gets made, and that's really determined a lot by how well a movie does," she stated. “I think there are shifts (with) people behind the scenes. Studios, also, recognizing the power of audiences and what resonates with audiences. That's what was great about Girls Trip. There are more women; I think that helps a lot. We had Donna Langley — Chairman of Universal Pictures who was really supportive of the movie."
The Washington, D.C. native hasn’t slowed down at all since Girls Trip debuted this summer – up next she’s set to star alongside Amandla Stenberg in the highly anticipated film adaptation of Angie Thomas’ #BlackLivesMatter novel, The Hate U Give.
However, it was her role in the Insecure series, Due North that kept us cracking up all summer. “I am friends with Issa (Rae), and we were friends before. We were actually working on developing something even before Insecure came out," Hall recalls laughing. “I was like, 'Oh, an offer for Insecure. Okay, yeah, I'll do it.’ I didn't really know what it was, but I loved the show, and I love Issa. They've just done such an amazing job, and I was like, 'Okay.' Then I was like, 'Well, what's the character?' And they're like, 'Well, you play a slave. Her name is Ninny.' And I was like, 'What? What have they ... How is that in there?!' It's the show they watch. Then I went, and Scott Folley was like, 'Sure.' We just were like, 'Let's have fun with it.' I had so much fun. It ended up being something that we just shot, and they were really great. They came up with the most authentic sets, the actual clothes they rented, and we just had a lot of fun shooting that.”
Whether it’s playing Ninny or Ryan or even her beloved characters Candy or Brenda – it’s all been a bit magical for Hall. “You know, I love bringing characters to life, “ she said reflecting on her career. “I mean, it's always hard when you're doing it, but to be able to do something that resonates with an audience and makes an impact for a moment, it feels like such an honor.”
So will we see Ryan, Dina, Sasha and Lisa in a follow up to Girls Trip? Hall doesn’t have that answer, but she isn’t exactly counting it out. “I've heard whispers, but you know, we haven't talked about it," she told me laughing. “Will told me I'm not in the sequel because I did my D challenge with Issa and in it, I said I was going to take the other thing over Girls Trip, and he said, 'Oh, you don't want to do the sequel?' I was like, 'I don't know who that was!' But, I don't know yet, either. I have no idea. I gotta ask Universal.”
Girls Trip is now available on Digital, Blu-ray™, DVD and On Demand. Aramide A Tinubu is a film critic and entertainment writer. As a journalist, her work has been published in EBONY, JET, ESSENCE, Bustle, The Daily Mail, IndieWire and Blavity. She wrote her Master’s thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a cinephile, bookworm, blogger and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can find her reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, read her blog at: www.chocolategirlinthecity.com or tweet her @midnightrami