Actor Regina Hall learns new perspectives through each of her roles
Sundance Film Festival discussion dips into roles and goals
Actor Regina Hall stepped into the shoes of two different characters in the 2022 Sundance Film Festival offerings.
In Mariama Diallo’s debut feature “Master,” Hall plays a Black woman who is the newly appointed dean of students in a predominantly white college built upon a witches gallows hill in Salem, Masachusettes. And in the Ebo twins’ satirical mockumentary “Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul,” Hall is Trinitie Childs, the first lady of a southern megachurch who, along with her husband, has to rebuild the reputation of their church and themselves after a scandal.
Hall, who has more than 20 years in the TV and film industry, talked about these roles and more during a Jan. 24 virtual “Women In Film” panel, moderated by Hannah Giorgis, staff writer for The Atlantic.
Although the roles in “Master,” which she also served as executive director, and “Honk for Jesus” both have relationships with power, Hall said the first thing that attracted her to the projects were the filmmakers.
“When I met Mariama, I felt like she was very clear in her vision, and I felt the ways she approached the subject matter in a thriller was interesting, and quite thought provoking,” Hall said. “I also liked that it took place in academia.”
Hall was drawn to “Honk for Jesus” because of Adama and Adame Ebo.
“Adama and Adame, as a directing, producing and writing team, were really incredible,” she said. “It was exciting to work with two up-and-coming female Black directors, especially right now.”
Hall also liked the characters of both projects.
“I love playing interesting people, and I think you’re always trying to figure out what the humanity is of the characters,” she said. “(With any character) there is some kind of intrinsic truth, some inherent quality that usually jumps out and is interesting to play with. (These) are great opportunities to delve into another’s perspective. “
Many people know Hall through her role of Brenda Meeks in the Wayan Brothers’ “Scary Movie” franchise, a role Hall adores.
“Approaching Brenda is no different (than the ones in ‘Master’ and ‘Honk for Jesus’), except she is more heightened,” Hall said. “I’ve played Brenda more than I’ve played anyone else in the world, four times. It’s interesting to play her, because the great thing with Brenda is you get to do the absurd, but still, she’s relatable. We all know a Brenda.”
Hall said there’s a bit of herself in Brenda, and also bits of herself in her two Sundance roles.
“I think with every character there are versions of degrees of who you are,” she said. “Every time you look at a performance, you feel you could have done better, but there is still something special with every single one of them.”
With each project, she discovered something new within herself or gained a new perspective of the world.
Brenda was her first big comedic role.
“I had never thought about comedy before, so to do a comedy and work with the Wayans was a big, fun time,” she said.
In “Master,” Hall took the time to reflect on some of her experiences that happened during college.
“Race, racism and sexism in the academic world is very familiar, and (they) show themselves in many different ways at many different times,” she said. “So you’re always navigating a truth versus a reality, and they usually coexist at the same time. As women we are constantly navigating the idea of isolating an experience from the entirety.”
Working with the Ebo twins gave Hall a different perspective about creativity.
“I found two incredible Black female directors who write and direct,” she said. “They give you a different viewpoint, and it’s that creative muscle that is seen from another lens.”
While her involvement in different projects gives Hall new perspectives, she also draws inspiration from other aspects of her life, including her family, friends and experiences.
“I love watching movies, and I think (through) watching people become characters, you learn so much about yourself and about other points of view,” she said. “I love watching other artists, and when I work with other people and directors, I watch them. (Because) all of those experiences lend themselves to your craft.”
Showing a new perspective of the world is something important to Hall.
“The more connectedness we can be part of the more compassion we can see,” she said. “And when we see others, we can, in a sense, see ourselves.”
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For information about the Sundance Film Festival, visit festival.sundance.org.
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