Regina Hall As Dawn In Showtime's Black Monday Interview
Michael Levine/SHOWTIME

Regina Hall Talks Unapologetic Blackness and Absurd Racism Of 'Black Monday'

With the first season of Showtime's Black Monday coming to an end, VIBE talks to the award-winning actress about the show's comedic authenticity and more. 

At some point within the last year of her acting career, Regina Hall called a white man a racist, he thanked her and she loved it. That's what Black Monday does to its viewers. It makes you see the humor in the horrid. The writing is so callous yet calculated. The louder the laughs, the higher the volume is turned up on the ills of the 1980s until they’re unmistakable and undeniably enjoyable. Hall's character Dawn embodies that balance as a woman who would rather make money, and sexually suggestive horse jokes, than have a child. Yet, she can still see the value of love. For the 48-year-old actress with a litany of classic roles, the choice to join in on the debauchery was easy.

“I’m a huge Don Cheadle fan. He called and said, ‘I want you to read something. I read it and I loved it. That was kind of it. It was a pretty quick and a pretty easy decision,” Hall told VIBE.

Hall has maintained the authenticity of the Black woman's voice with acting legend Vanessa Bell Calloway off and on camera, in one episode. She loves that she and Don get to make fun of white people, in another episode. And she spoke with VIBE about it all, including her thoughts on Regina King's Oscar win, and how the show made her rethink the '80s.

VIBE spoke with Don Cheadle earlier this year about the show and told him my favorite line said by Mo: "I went long on condoms because I knew [AIDS] had legs." What did you love the most about the show's writing?
Regina: I love that rapid-fire dialogue. I love that it's so honest and politically incorrect, and we get to do that because it's set in the '80s when things were that politically incorrect. And we get to have commentary on stuff people didn't know. Hindsight is everything. So now we can not make fun of it but have [lines like], "I went long on condoms because I knew that shit had legs." The writers are great about taking things and ideas that are timely but also making them funny without marginalizing the reality of what AIDS meant. But there was this callousness that existed back then.

I agree completely. With all of the absurd humor, there are some really deep commentaries on the show. One that sticks out the most is your dinner table scene with Vanessa Bell Calloway, who plays your mother, from episode “339”, which tackled Dawn prioritizing her career over starting a family. What do you think of that message?
I love Vanessa Bell Calloway, first of all. I’ve been a fan of hers since I first saw her on All My Children [in 1985]. I love that commentary about her saying, "We don't want that money. It's greed money." I loved her having that opinion. So when we shot it, figuring out that mother-daughter dynamic, and understanding what that was, was great. I loved the dialogue. I loved the relationship. I loved her Nefertitty painting and the fact that my momma wants to be an artist.

Our showrunners are so great. Before we had the scene [of my mom showing me her paintings], we talked about it. One of the things we talked about was, she was about to say the F-word and I said, "You know, as a Black woman, we can't say that in front of our mothers. So, can I take the beat where I'm almost about to say it, but then I'm like, 'I better not.'" It's those nuances like that that everyone is so conscious of and open to. It allows it to feel real even though it's a comedy. There are so many authentic moments in it that are great.

There are so many strong woman characters that carry a lot of these episodes as well. The scene where you (Dawn) and Casey Ann Wilson’s character Tiffany discuss love at her bachelorette party is probably one of the top 3 scenes of the entire season, so far.
She's so phenomenal on the show. She's just incredible to watch. She's not necessarily what I would've thought of when I first read it. But, I can't imagine anyone else. She's so rotten and likable. These people are so incredibly flawed but likable. You don't even know why you like them because they're really selfish people...but they're great!'

In the penultimate episode, Tiffany decides to betray her family and get money from it. I love that the writers of the show did things like make her parents kidnap her for profits in the prior episode or have her know all these illegal things in other episodes because she was wealthy.
Yes!

Are there any other nuances like that that you think people should look out for when watching the show?
I ultimately want people to enjoy it. I've found that different people relate to different things. There are very subtle things in the show, like what it's like growing up like Tiffany, with money. Tiffany said one of my favorite lines, "Nothing ruins a brand faster than seeing it on a bum." I'm like that is clever. I love that it's the truth for her in her world. It's why I love why Mo is so unapologetically Black. I love that they feel really Black on Wall Street. Mo does. Dawn does. They're trying to make it big in the world. But, they are being their true selves.

When I talked to Don he said a lot of what happens on the show is improv. He let us in on the fact that you mounting Paul Scheer and thrusting in his face in the series premiere was all your idea on the spot. What went through your mind in that scene?
I thought, she's one of the guys. It's just something that guys do. I think for Dawn's character, so often in shows, the woman is the smart one but she's also the joykill. I wanted to make sure that although you can feel like she is the smart one and business-minded, she's also not uptight. I wanted to make sure that Dawn did not feel in any way like, "Oh gosh, here comes Dawn."

Even when she [interrupts] their circle jerk in [episode “339” ]. That's more about her having to find Mo in an emergency rather than saying, 'You guys are dumb.' In the sexual harassment training scene, Dawn says, 'Her a** meant nothing to me." For her, it's like she's one of the guys and she doesn’t make a thing about it at all.

You're definitely full of surprises. In episode “7042”, you started singing when Mo was mourning a death while out on the dock.
Oh my... I know (laughs). Something's wrong with Dawn.

You sounded alright.
Really? I thought I sounded crazy. I don't know. It was just a moment where we could take that moment and find some humor in it. There's all these moments where we get to see these people as people. That's what makes this show unique. It does have dramatic moments like the moment Dawn says she thinks she likes Blair. Then, of course, the finale's coming out and I can't wait for you to see it.

Black Monday's most interesting aspect, comedically, is how it uses that hindsight you were talking about to really question '80s pop culture. It shows the really bad side of movies likes Soul Man, Hogan’s Heroes, and Sixteen Candles. Were there any from the show that made you look at that time differently?
Or, I never thought about it that way. Yeah, all of them. Truth is, Hogan's Heroes was a comedy set in a concentration camp. I did see Sixteen Candles and one of the things is Jake does say while she's asleep, "You can have sex with my girlfriend," which is, like, date rape. There's a line Dawn says where she goes, "Listen, you can't go by sitcoms. There's two Black midgets playing rich, white people's kids." We're talking about Gary Coleman on Diff'rent Strokes and Emmanuel Lewis on Webster. There were strange things happening on shows back then that were surprisingly ok.

Our showrunners are amazing. I love when Dawn askS, "Is he getting weirder?" and Mo says, "He's definitely getting whiter." I love that you have two Black people talk about white people. Not in a bad or racist way. Just saying they're different. I also like the way they handled racism. A lot of the show is improv where we just make up a lot of stuff. But one of the scenes I love was the one with the Lehman Brothers [in episode “243”] that I did. They're like, "She knows what’s racist, she’s Black.” And I say back, "Guys, don’t worry. I know you're racist." And they don't say they're not racist, they say, "Thank you." I love when they go, "Listen, Dawn. You're very smart, which, normally, we find repulsive in a woman."

But then there's a genuine affection and love. I love how they handled the gay storyline with Keith. It's actually real love. It's not hot and heavy sex. He [Keith] really loves him [Mike].

I'd be remiss if I didn't get your reaction to Regina King's Oscar win earlier this year.
I was really excited. Regina's done work prior to [If Beale Street Could Talk] that's been incredibly worthy. She's been in the business [for] a long time. She's talented, kind and smart, so I was really excited. Also, Spike Lee's been a part of my whole life with his films. I was excited for him and his success. I loved seeing it. I was really happy and thrilled for them. All of it last year was exciting for Jordan Peele. I was home cheering like a fan, happy for the people I know and love.

Catch the 'Black Monday' season finale on Sunday, March 21 at 10p/9c on Showtime.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Prince Williams/Wireimage via Getty Images

Cardi B Lands Leading Role In Comedy ‘Assisted Living’

Cardi B is making her way back to the big screen. The Bronx native officially landed her first leading role in the upcoming Paramount comedy, Assisted Living.

According to Variety, Cardi will play a small time crook struggling to find a hiding place after her latest heist fails. Her character, “Amber,” disguises herself as an elderly woman and hides out at her grandmother's nursing home. The film is described as a “raucous comedy” similar to Mrs. Doubtfire and Sister Act.

Paramount acquired the rights to Assisted Living in 2019. The film’s script was penned by This Is Us writer, Kay Oyegun.

Cardi, 28, made her film debut in the 2019 celeb-heavy stripper flick, Hustlers. The “WAP” rapper appears to have hinted at her Assisted Living role in a recent interview with Billboard where she dished on filming scenes for Fast & Furious 9.

“After ‘Hustlers’ I filmed a little bit for 'Fast & Furious' so I felt like ‘I’m ready for this,’ I knew what to expect,” she explained. “But the characters were a little different so I was like ‘Oh wow, I’m going to need more acting classes.’ I’m planning on doing a movie this year and I’m going to be the lead role so I’m like ‘I need to execute this flawlessly.’”

Besides film, Cardi was a judge on the Netflix completion show, Rhythm & Flow, and landed her own Facebook Watch series, Cardi Tries.

Continue Reading
Getty Images

Netflix Gives Sneak Peek Of Jay-Z Produced Western ‘The Harder They Fall’

Netflix gave a preview of the streaming giant's upcoming films on Tuesday (Jan. 12). Among them, the highly anticipated western, The Harder They Fall.

Produced by Jay Z and written and directed by musician Jeymes Samuel, the film stars Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, Zazie Beetz and Woody McClain.

The Harder They Fall follows the fictional character, Nat Love (Majors), as he seeks revenge on the man who murdered his parents. Besides signing on as a producer, Hov also created original music for the film.

The Covid-19 pandemic delayed filming, which began in March of last year in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Filming resumed in September but was paused again after one of the actors tested positive for coronavirus.

“What I love about movies is that they can make you feel every emotion,” King says in the Netflix teaser.

“And show you something you’ve never seen before,” adds Majors while clips from their film plays on the screen.

The Harder They Fall is one of 27 films headed to Netflix. See more in the video below.

2021 = a new movie EVERY WEEK on Netflix. Here's a sneak peek at 27 of the biggest, brightest, fastest, funniest, feel-good, feel-everything films and stars coming to Netflix this year pic.twitter.com/iCr1ZPrc7W

— NetflixFilm (@NetflixFilm) January 12, 2021

Continue Reading
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Webby Awards

Issa Rae Announces ‘Insecure’ Will End After Season 5

Insecure will return this year for a fifth and final season, Issa Rae revealed on Wednesday (Jan. 13). In a statement to Deadline, Rae and executive producer Prentice Penny showed gratitude to HBO and fans of the show.

“Prentice and I are so grateful that HBO believed in our show from the beginning and kept the faith in us to see our vision through the end,” said Rae.“We always planned to tell this story through five seasons, but we couldn’t have made it this far without the tremendous support of our audience. I feel blessed beyond measure to bring our characters’ stories to an end, on-screen at least.”

HBO’s Programming EVP Amy Gravitt, noted that Rae has “turned insecurity into an iconic form of comedy.”

Based off the 36-year-old’s popular Awkward Black Girl YouTube series, lnsecure was created by Rae and Larry Wilmore. The series premiered on HBO in 2016.

Season five will reportedly begin filming later this month with Rae, Yvonne Orji, Jay Ellis, Natasha Rothwell and Amanda Seales all expected to return. The previous season ended with Rae’s character at yet another crossroads with her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Lawrence (played by Ellis).

Season five of Insecure debuts later this year.

Continue Reading

Top Stories