Regina Hall is so good it’s scurry.
The Girls Trip star now travels back to a pre-#MeToo era opposite Don Cheadle and Andrew Rannells in Black Monday, Showtime’s new comedy series about a ragtag 1980s investment firm that may’ve caused the worst stock market crash in history. Hall, 48, plays Dawn, the only female head trader on Wall Street, making bank in a white boys’ club.
Before showing off more money moves in her next film, Little, Hall explains how she’s been cashing in on queer fans since Scary Movie.
I’m living for Dawn’s looks in Black Monday. Were you feeling those ’80s fashion statements?
They were something else, I tell you what. Between wardrobe, hair, and makeup, it was like entering a whole other world. I was always shocked by how much detail Dawn put into her look every day, right down to the pantyhose.
Did you turn it out as a teen in the ’80s?
Yeah, in more of a Madonna way, with the bows, the fingerless gloves, and maybe some bad blue eyeshadow that was probably not my shade.
Dawn is one of few female characters in Black Monday. What’s it like to shoot a show that’s set in such an aggressively misogynistic environment?
It’s interesting to be living in a time where we’re so vocally united with the #TimesUp movement and revisiting a time that was so male-dominated. We have a great episode coming up where Mo, Don Cheadle’s character, calls for a sexual harassment seminar at the office, and the other guys literally don’t even know what that means. But all my male co-stars are a delight to work with. They joke that they’re going to start a #HeToo movement because I’ve probably harassed them.
It’s clear from recent red carpet photos that you and Andrew Rannells are pretty tight.
Oh, I love Andrew. He’s a terrific performer and just a beautiful human being. We met on the pilot and immediately decided to get married and have two kids named Don and Dawn.
Are you aware of your big gay following?
Yes, and I love it so much. Honestly, ever since I played Brenda in Scary Movie, the gay community has been more supportive of me than anybody else, and that, to me, is everything. When I realized I had that support, I was like, “Oh, I’ll be fine!” Because there’s no audience more loyal or honest. And they’re very vocal, just like Brenda.
I still text Brenda GIFs when something’s “scurry” or if someone needs to “get out my face.” Why do you think that character resonated with queer audiences?
Maybe because she was just so funny and outspoken. She was unapologetic about who she was, especially in the movie theater scene. When I first read the script, I loved Brenda. I thought she was crazy in the best way possible. I don’t remember all the lines anymore, but it’s amazing that, more than 18 years since the first movie, people come up to me, like, “Do Brenda!”
There was a recurring gag that Brenda’s boyfriend, Ray, was obviously gay. What do you remember about putting on a football uniform to roll around in bed with Shawn Wayans?
[Laughs] That was kind of impromptu. It wasn’t originally scripted. Keenen [Ivory Wayans], our director, was like, “We’re adding a love scene for Brenda and Ray. You’re going to dress like a football player, Ray is going to get more and more turned on, and you’re just confused.” We had so much fun. I always thought Brenda and Ray probably got married and lived happily ever after, but in a Bohemian Rhapsody way.
Did you ever date a man you had suspicions about?
I did, yeah, and I think he later realized he was gay. That happened to a really good friend of mine, too, where he was engaged to a woman but then realized he was finally ready to live his truth. He and his ex-fiancée are still great friends.
I’m not sure the Scary Movie franchise would fly today. Jokes about a predatory closet case? A bunch of white people stabbing a black woman for talking in a movie theater?
Yeah, no, you couldn’t do that now. With the movie theater scene, we didn’t even think about all that—they were just people, it was just funny. There are so many Scary Movie jokes that couldn’t happen today.
Is that progress, or have we become too sensitive?
Probably both. I think when you’re creating new boundaries, you have to create a hard line before you can blur and play a little bit, and that’s where we’re at right now. I understand the need for that rigidity. But I hope we can get back to a time where comedy isn’t so dissected or always perceived as purposely offensive. Remember Pepé Le Pew? They couldn’t have him today, harassing that little cat. “She doesn’t want you, Pepé! Stop hugging her!”
You’ve said that Girls Trip expanded your audience to white women. Did it feel like you also got a new generation of queer fans?
Yes, and it was wonderful. We bought tickets for people at certain theaters on opening weekend, and most of the men there were gay. We had a few straight ones, but their girlfriends probably made them come. It was gay men telling all their friends the movie was funny, and that word of mouth was huge for us. That’s the support we needed.
The inevitable Girls Trip sequel can return the favor with greater LGBTQ representation.
I know. You’re right. We have to figure out where we’re going first, and then we can make that happen. That would be fun, though—and it makes sense, because you know all four of those characters would have close gay friends.
You recently became the first black woman to win Best Actress at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards for playing a Hooters-like breastaurant manager in Support the Girls, which President Barack Obama named one of his favorite films of 2018. It hasn’t gotten enough attention that your character’s favorite customer is a lesbian regular, Bobo, played by Lea DeLaria.
Yeah, Bobo was the customer who had the most integrity and respect for those girls. I didn’t really think about it when I read the script, but I understood how significant that character was when I watched the movie. Lea was so great, so nice, and she came in with a real clear vision of who her character was, bringing a lot of stuff that wasn’t necessarily on the page.
In your next film, Little, you star as Jordan, a bitchy boss with a severe bob and pricey pantsuits. What was it like to play her?
There’s nothing more fun than playing a monster. Marsai Martin, Issa Rae, and I were always cracking up. Putting together Jordan’s look, picking out the hair and wardrobe, was also so much fun.
As seen in the Little trailer, when asked if she was always mean, Jordan explains, “I got big and I got rich.” Have money and fame changed you, or are you still Regina from the block?
I think I still am! I don’t feel like much has changed in my life, honestly. Maybe I need to make more money. [Laughs] I still have the same people in my life, and that helps.
Your work has increasingly tackled important social issues—Support the Girls and #MeToo, The Hate U Give and Black Lives Matter. At this point in your career, is that part of what draws you to a project?
It does make a difference, yeah. Like with Little, I loved the message and thought about making something my nieces could see, something that would really resonate with audiences. With so much going on in the world, I think about what I can do to increase connection, compassion, understanding, or whatever it takes to create some sort of evolution of consciousness.
Have you ever played a queer character?
No, but I might be soon. I can’t give too much away, but there’s something in the negotiation phase, actually, that’s really interesting and beautiful. I just watched Colette, and I loved Colette and the woman she fell in love with. I was really upset at the end when it said they stayed together for years, because I wanted them to stay together forever!
You’ve done man-drag with facial hair, channeling The Weeknd to challenge Lupita Nyong’o on Lip Sync Battle. How did that feel?
Well, I lost, so I was devastated.
But you lip-synced for your life!
Thank you. I want to be a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race. I had a chance to do it once before but couldn’t because I was working. RuPaul is so great—both handsome and beautiful.
What was your reaction a few years back when rumors began circulating that you were dating actress Sanaa Lathan?
We both laughed about it. We’ve joked about it, like, well, if we’re not with anyone else, it’s got to be true, right?
Do you think that’s still a public perception?
Oh, that rumor definitely continues, but it’s not hurtful or offensive. There are bad rumors, but that’s not one of them. It’s kind of cute, actually. If I was with a woman, that wouldn’t be anything I’d be ashamed of or try to hide. It wouldn’t be Sanaa, though, because she’s like my sister.
Who would it be?
Rihanna. Go ahead and say I’m having an affair with Rihanna. Why not?
Black Monday airs Sundays on Showtime. Little is in theaters April 12.