Interview: Regina King talks Jaheim's "Finding My Way Back"
Mon, 10 May 2010 07:46:33
Regina King has become quite the pop culture presence.
Southland, the TNT crime drama that she stars in, was recently picked up for a third season, while King is also lending her voice to Adult Swim's Boondocks, which has also begun its third season. Given all the third seasons that's she's a part of, "three" may very well be the actress's lucky number. However, she's so talented that she really doesn't need it.
Her talents have extended behind the camera as well for the first time with her directorial debut a vibrant and cinematic music video for Jaheim's "Finding My Way Back." The video hearkens back to classic old school videos that actually told a story instead of just featuring a few sexy girls dancing in a warehouse. Regina put a lot of heart into making "Finding My Way Back" stand out, and it shows upon every single view.
Regina King sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about how she directed a more "cinematic" video for Jaheim's "Finding My Way Back," what she would remove to work with Clint Eastwood and making the next big step…
The video really tells a great story!
My intention was to do a video that had a narrative because unfortunately we don't really see that anymore in music videos. I'm assuming that part of it has to do with the money allotted to videos now because we really did make a dollar out of 15 cents on "Finding My Way Back." I really appreciate that you received it that way.
You were able to create a mini-movie in many ways.
If I had it my way, I wouldn't have been in the video but that's how the opportunity came. Jaheim and I met each other on the Mo'Nique show. He asked me if I would be in this video, and I told him I'd be in the video if I could direct it. That's how all of this came to be. The itch to direct had been going on inside of me for the last few years now. I'd always told myself that when people direct and act in something they do the project a disservice [Laughs]. So I'm glad I survived it. I think a video would've been the only way that I would've done both. Sometimes, you have to take the opportunity when it comes, and it's not necessarily going to come in a pretty package the way you'd like for it to come.
How did the concept come about? Did you spend a lot of time with the song or was this a story you wanted to tell in another concept that fit this project?
Actually, it just came from song! When I told Jaheim I'd be in the video if I could direct it, he was like, "Could you write a treatment for it?" I was like, "Of course!" That's what you say immediately all of the time in this business. If you can't do it, then you deal with that later [Laughs]. I am a big fan of Jaheim's music. For one, I knew what I wanted to see Jaheim look like in the video because I've never seen him just be naturally sexy in one of his videos before. That was one thing I knew that I wanted. Secondly, the song tells a great story—the hook alone does. So many people can relate to someone trying to find the way back to their love. Jaheim told me he had a long distance relationship before, so I listened to the song over a couple of days and this is what I came up with.
The video feels very natural. Did Jaheim get right into it?
He got right into it from the moment that we started. With this video, I was lucky to bring in people that I've worked with before. That made it more comfortable for me. All of the people that I work with want each project to succeed so they made Jaheim feel really comfortable. When we met for his wardrobe fitting with my stylist, I told him that the most important thing was for him to feel comfortable and that's what my job was. He totally opened up then and he was like, "I'll do whatever you want me to, Regina! Just tell me what to do, and I'll do it!" He was genuinely the best subject to have. Everything I asked of him, he did. He never said, "I can't" or "It feels weird." It was really cool.
Was it different interacting with him as an actor on screen as opposed to as a director behind the camera?
On one setup, it did not feel like I was directing him because we were moving so fast. I didn't get a chance to talk him through the scene as much as I would've liked to. We needed to get in and out and only be in that location for an hour. That one scene, I just felt like I was in it as an actor. Other than that, I was directing him. I felt like he was allowing me to be his guide.
Did you get to watch the video together? What was his initial reaction?
I'm so glad you asked that! He was having computer problems or something and I happened to be going to New York right after I'd finished the second to the last edit. So I said, "Just come by the hotel and I'll show you the video." He came by and the first thing he said was, "That's me!?" Jaheim had never seen himself in a light where he thought he looked good. I was like, "Yeah, that's you!" We watched the whole video and he was speechless. Then he was like, "Play it again! Everything was in it! We got everything in the video!" I said, "I told you!" [Laughs] He was very surprised to see what was on paper come to life. I don't think he's ever experienced reading a treatment and seeing the video and having it be what he read.
It doesn't happen very often. That's very cool you accomplished it.
It was very cool! That was one of those moments where I forced myself out of my comfort zone. I've always only talked about directing, but this was the opportunity to put up or shut up. For me personally, it just confirmed that this is something I want to do. It's not simply something I'm talking about doing anymore. It was great.
Which directors have you looked up to?
I've gotten the opportunity to work with some really amazing directors. As far as the wish list, the first person that comes to my mind that I have not worked with that I would love to work with is Clint Eastwood. I would possibly remove my pinky toenail to work with him—just because I'm that vain I can't say my, "Pinky toe." [Laughs] I wouldn't know what to do myself! Whatever he asks of me, I would do. As far as directors I've worked with, Taylor Hackford and Cameron Crowe both left a really lasting impression because I was really familiar with their work before I worked with them.
Cameron Crowe and Clint Eastwood both can really capture an actor's humanity. They've got a no-frills approach to filmmaking to.
Totally! It seems that way with Clint. Cameron definitely has a no-frills approach and he really is into storytelling and telling it through the humanity. There are so many different ways to tell a story well. The fact that he tells this story through the characters and people that are part of it makes it great. He puts his signature on things. There are other directors who tell a story just from the visual symphony they put together. It's not so much about the humanity, but the visuals.
How connected are music and film?
I believe you can't have one without the other. It's so interesting to me. Everybody has one song that can come on in 2010—maybe they haven't heard that song since a certain incident happened—and it immediately transports them to a vivid moment in 1998 or some other time. It happens instantly when they hear that song. That's what movies can do for you as well. The combination of the two is priceless.
What's next for you?
I would like to direct a film. I brought that video with me to Houston seeking financing for a project I'd like to direct this summer. That video was very helpful in me getting half the financing. The fact that I was able to execute this much with that amount of money was helpful. They want to see you're able to produce. I'd definitely like to try my hand in directing on a bigger scale.
You most definitely well! The video is the perfect stepping stone…
That is the plan! You have to strike when the iron's hot. The object is to get as many people as I can to listen about why this movie I want to direct should be done and then let them see I'm capable of putting together a piece. If I can do this in three minute and 36 seconds, wow what I can do in an hour and 45 minutes. If you haven't done something, you don't know you can do it until you try. It was that one thing I needed to have to assure myself of.
Are you excited to see what Regina directs next?