In “One Night in Miami” there are so many conversations on the wall that we black people are used to having. The film almost looks like a hair salon in a hotel room. How much weight did you feel trying to translate these candid conversations?
FOR EXAMPLE: I did not feel any weight. Because the weight is like a burden to me. I felt the excitement. That’s what I liked so much about the script: it wasn’t the same old biopic. It didn’t start when he was a kid somewhere in difficult circumstances and then he started to grow up. In “Ali” this night [February 25, 1964] happens in this movie. But it’s here, then it’s gone. That’s what you miss when trying to take the life of someone – like Malcolm X or Cassius Clay – in two hours. The beautiful thing about it is that you can dive deep and decompress a busy moment and see how much life there is in a conversation. For example, you could make a movie about the day Nelson Mandela gets out of prison. You can make a movie about her whole life, or you can make a movie about it someday because that’s enough for a movie. I reveled in the opportunity to be able to tell this story, which I find necessary and beautiful.
Ah: I didn’t really feel any weight. I felt elation. Part of my responsibility as an artist is to exhibit things that people don’t understand. Or to show what people are going through so they know they are recognized. For those kinds of conversations, I was happy because we can show people what we’re talking about. This is what is happening. And you can’t deny us.
You have a super megastar singer, a super megastar soccer player and the heavyweight world champion. You have all these men that you think are immune to all the effects the rest of us go through – but no; they are going through exactly the same thing. Their position in life, their money, and their influence mean nothing when compared to their black in America. People watch me talk about problems and say, “But you’re a successful actor.” First of all, we’re not even talking about that. We are talking about the value of my life compared to yours. It’s not the same thing. So stop denying it, especially when you don’t experience it.
KBA: As an active actor, a lot of this job is just walking on the water and trying to get the next gig. Other actors are probably interviewing all the time and analyzing the work. They are in a very luxurious position at the top; where they can decide what type of character they want to play. They shape their careers. But for the rest of us, we’re right here. So when this opportunity presented itself, it was a very serious situation. This is your chance to show Regina King your game.
Sometimes the casting directors look at your tapes first and then decide if they’re good enough. But I was like, “I think Regina is really going to watch them” because they’re really trying to find a Malcolm. It was a joy in itself. The weight was, yes, playing Malcolm, but also showing Regina the job and doing what you always dreamed of.