When it comes to romantic comedies or dramatic tearjerkers, the general consensus is that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Hollywood starlet and comedienne Regina Hall, however, is deviating from expectations in her new dramedy People, Places, Things.
Hall portrays an accomplished single mom who is juggling parenthood, relationships and her occupation as a college professor. When her young daughter sets her up with her odd-ball colleague Will Henry (played by Jemaine Clement), she isn’t as interested as her determined daughter would like her to be. As their unsuspecting relationship continues to develop, Hall’s presence becomes an influential mark on Will’s life as he navigates through dating, fatherhood and self-actualization.
The Think Like A Man actress sat down with VIBE for a one-on-one about her role in the upcoming film, relationship lessons and women of color in film.
VIBE: Did you feel out of your element at all with this film?
Regina Hall: Actually, I didn’t. I felt great! Tonally, the movie is different but how you found a character is the same for this film. The tone was a little more grounded for me, but it was fun. It’s a dramedy, so it’s a perfect mix and I loved it.
You’ve had a number of dating roles in your filmography, like The Best Man and Think Like A Man series. Did that make playing this character easier for you?
No, because those roles are so different. Think Like A Man is a real romantic comedy. This one was more like a slice of life. [My character] was so different. She’s a mom and a college professor. I was a mother in Think Like A Man as well, but I had a young son. In this movie, I have a teen daughter, so I think this movie had a maturity level that I wanted my character to achieve so that the audience will believe that this is her daughter.
What about the interracial couple dynamic? Were you comfortable with that or did it feel a little out-of-place at first?
Not at all. I thought it was wonderful actually because it’s not written in the script that [my character] is black. I was sort of just casted anyways. It never really felt any different when we were shooting, and Jemaine was so great. He’s such a lovable human being that you can see how a woman could fall for him. It was great to be a part of a good cast.
You mentioned before that you believe in the presence of strong black marriages and families, but it’s especially important for black women to open their hearts and minds to love regardless of what culture it comes from. What are your thoughts on black men who have preferences for non-black women?
I think any “non” preference when it comes to people is never helpful. We never know who the person we fall in love with could look like. With that mindset, I think it’s limiting to what they can enjoy out of a relationship. You have to just embrace people as people. It’s especially odd to me that anyone wouldn’t embrace their own but, good riddance. It saves us the trouble. [Laughs.]
Which dating movie have you starred in that has taught you the most about dating and relationships?
In Best Man, I really learned the importance of honesty. In that movie, there was always issues of trust, whether it was between friends or keeping secrets. From Think Like A Man, I learned how to interact my significant other with my child if I were a mom. That was interesting because I always thought that would come later in a relationship, but according to Steve Harvey’s book, it should happen soon. It made sense because of the idea that if your partner doesn’t like your kids, you can’t be with them. How could you be with someone that is incapable of interacting with and loving your child? Especially not with a young child. You have to have someone that not only your kid loves, but who sees your child as another part of your relationship and family. If that person is rude or even jealous of your relationship with your child, you just can’t forge a life with them.
What advice would you give young actresses who want to land roles such as yours?
Don’t give up and study. I always say study because when that opportunity comes—and it will—you’re prepared. You have to be open because it could start off as one unsuspecting thing and turn into another. I think as long as you’re moving toward your passion, you’re good. I also believe a lot more things will continue to open up for young girls of color such as writing. I mean there are so many dimensions of film that you can involve yourself in now, especially with the evolvement of the Internet. You can create your own stuff such as web series where you can showcase your talent. It’s important to take advantage of that.
People, Places, Things hits theaters on Friday, Aug. 14.