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Oscar, Emmy-Winner Regina King Goes Director For 'One Night In Miami'

PhenomenalMAG Staff  |  Entertainment

Actress Regina King has been in the game since she was a young girl, and she’s seen her star rise high, especially in recent years.

Now she’s leveraging that success with a new power move, stepping behind the camera to direct her first film and craft a historic story through her eyes.

King directed the screen adaptation of Kemp Powers’ play One Night in Miami, which is now playing on Amazon Video. According to King, however, it took quite a process to get there.

First, King refused to deal with actors who wouldn’t audition for the roles. It speaks volumes about actors when they refuse to showcase their skills and assume that their name is enough to punch their ticket.

One Night In Miami is a fictitious story, and it is loosely based on a real event. The four leads aren’t just characters, they are legendary men of the Black community. In Powers’ screenplay, we follow the Civil Rights icons Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), and Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) in a Miami hotel room following the fight that put Clay on the path to becoming Muhammad Ali in the 1960s.

“...I was not interested in seeing anyone that didn't want to audition,” King told The Insider. “I have a whole lot riding on this and one of the things that Kemp kept saying was just how people received the play, so I knew that it took actors who truly understood that they were not doing an impersonation. All four of these actors knew that.”

King stresses that this film is not a biopic, and that fact made Miami even more difficult to cast in some cases. With both Cassius Clay and Malcolm X having been played before by other top-tier, A-list stars (Will Smith and Denzel Washington, respectively), finding the right leads for this piece was key to the whole project for her.

“I don't know if my energy was thinking to match up what the experience would be like seeing it live, but what I did believe was the dialogue was the star and that the right actors would make this dialogue just sing,” King said.

Even with her talented ensemble in place, though, she still wasn’t really sure if she had a product worth releasing until she began the editing process.

One thing King did know for sure was that she was committed to keeping her promise to hire “50% women on the movie,” a vow she made in her Golden Globes acceptance speech for If Beale Street Could Talk. While she wasn’t able to achieve it, she did drastically increase the percentage and check herself and her goal in the process.

“...we weren't able to accomplish it, but we definitely tried,” she said. “But what we were able to accomplish was that well over 50% of our crew were people that did not identify as cis white male[s].

“From the moment of me making that proclamation, if you will, to us actually shooting [One Night in Miami] so much had happened just in gender bias and how people identify; it is not respectful to regard everything as male or female.

“So moving forward, as I do still feel like having more women in positions behind the camera is important, I have to go beyond that.”

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