Regina King joins Southland

The talented Ms. King talks about her career and her new show.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Regina King joins Southland

Remember when you could just put a cop show on TV? They didn't have to be blind cops or cops with million dollar settlements and a paroled life sentence? Just cops. NBC's new cop show Southland is an ensemble cop drama. Regina King joins the ensemble as Detective Lydia Adams and we caught her just as she was getting into production.

Crave Online: Tell us about your character.

Regina King: I'm learning about her myself. She is a single woman. I'm not a mother or a wife for a change. She's been with the LAPD for some time because she's a detective, so she's already gone through what Ben's character is going through. But she has something going on because she lives with her mother, so it kind of makes one wonder why someone her age and a detective who doesn’t necessarily need to live with someone, why she's living with her mother, so we'll discover that shortly.

Crave Online: How has TV changed since you were a child actor?

Regina King: Oh God, well, there are very few four camera shows first of all. Just the whole reality world has changed how people regard TV. I don't think that as many producers put as much quality into projects as John Wells has done with his projects and that's probably one of the biggest reasons I was attracted to this. It was someone who's not only just tried and true, but everything that he's done I've thoroughly enjoyed. You can tell his creative mind was flowing and he took time to bring to us what we see.

Crave Online: Did doing 24 prepare you for the intensity and rigors of Southland?

Regina King: Not really, because not saying that 24 wasn't a good experience, but 24 was just a well oiled machine. It had been going on for five years before I had gotten there so everything pretty much worked like clockwork. I never had any really long days because I didn’t have a really huge story on 24. So this is a much different experience because this is from the beginning, the creating point of a project.

Crave Online: How many cops or detectives have you played in your career?

Regina King: Hmm, I have played, including my character Lydia in Southland, probably - - I'm thinking this is only the second. Miss Congeniality I believe was my first.

Crave Online: So it's new territory?

Regina King: Oh yeah, without a doubt. Like I said, I'm getting to know her as well. Ann [Biderman] and the staff of hires that they're writing are still [working]. This is what is like 24. They're still deciding the way things are going as we speak. Like 24 how you don't know what your next move is going to be from episode to episode, that's kind of like where we are right now.

Crave Online: Is there a lot of action on the show?

Regina King: Yeah, there is. There is enough. I wouldn't say it's about catching the perp or taking the perp down. I would say the majority of the show is not surrounded around there. I would say it's more surrounded around why these people are cops and how it affects them and their life outside of their job.

Crave Online: What's Lydia's motivation for being a cop?

Regina King: We're still exploring that but we feel like it has something to do with her choices with being a single woman. The exciting thing, I think for all of us, because we're learning ourselves every time we watch a teaser or watch the pilot episode, we're like, "Wow. Where are we going to go from here?" That's what we learned working with Chick Daniels and the other officers that it takes a really specific person to want to be a police officer. Although we are all officers, some of us are detectives. Michael and Ben are the only patrol officers. We all started off where they are, but we all decided that we wanted to continue to be police officers, and to make that decision is a very specific train of thought. Each one of us had different reasons on why we made the decision to become a cop. So it's going to be great. You guys are learning why we decided to be cops along with us. A lot of them make choices to see what they see. They choose to be in certain divisions and work on certain tables. You have some cops that come in, and they do not want to get their hands dirty. They do not want to be on really hard-core table like murder. They would rather be on something lighter, like theft. So it's really interesting to get into the psyche of a police officer.

Crave Online: How do you find being a woman in a mostly male cast?

Regina King: Well, I think I'm a lucky girl, first of all. As far as character-wise, it really mirrors what the life of a female officer is. There are much fewer female officers than there are men. It is more a male-driven job. There is a character in here who, when you do see the opening episode, you see where women police officers deal with male officers that don't take well to women being cops. So I've got a really cool group of men around me. They've been good to me. We've been out together doing a lot of research. I've had a couple of emotional moments and they were great. So it's been good. I feel like I'm in good hands.

Crave Online: Did you see Pineapple Express?

Regina King: No, I didn't.

Crave Online: Did you hear they're watching 227 high?

Regina King: I saw it in the trailer. I thought that was hilarious.

Crave Online: Were you determined to be an actress your whole life when you were young?

Regina King: I think I was thinking I want to be an actress right there in that moment. I've always taken what I do as seriously and as an art form. I wouldn't say that I was thinking so far in advance that oh, one day I'm going to be on TV. I was always taking it [as it came].

Crave Online: What's the secret to career success?

Regina King: I think the blessing is that my mom never took me out of regular school and put me in the entertainment school. I've always looked at it as an art form and something that I was lucky enough to turn into a career. It wasn't like a lot of people who had to figure out what is it that I want to do. It kind of found me if that makes sense.