Regina King Pays Tribute to Late ‘Shirley’ Co-Star Lance Reddick

Shirley Movie Split (Credit: Netflix)

The Los Angeles premiere of the Netflix film Shirley brought heartfelt words and a look back at the impact of late New York politician Shirley Chisholm.

The film stars Oscar winner Regina King as Chisholm, who in 1968 became the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress.

The actress and her sister Reina King co-produced the biopic, which they said took over a decade to bring to the screen.

Reina told the audience inside the Egyptian Theater on March 19, that the film was a “15-year-old passion project” about a “very important woman.”

Related StoryRegina King Opens Up About Her Son Ian’s Death: ‘Grief Is a Journey’

Reina King, John Ridley and Regina King attend the premiere of the Netflix film Shirley in Los Angeles on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. (Credit: Netflix)
Reina King, John Ridley, Regina King (Credit: Netflix)

Regina King held her sister’s arm as they stood together on stage. At one point, Regina fought back tears.

“Thank you, Reina,” she said before taking a long pause. “I love you.”

An exclusive agreement with the Chisholm Estate gave Regina and Reina access to the politician and author’s life story.

Regina dedicated the film to her son Ian Alexander Jr., who died by suicide in January 2022; and to late actor Lance Reddick, who portrays political organizer Wesley McDonald “Mac” Holder in the film. Reddick passed away in April 2023 from heart disease.

Regina told the audience Reddick’s widow, Stephanie Reddick, was inside the theater to watch one of her husband’s final performances. Regina directed Lance in One Night in Miami and described him as a “badass.”

“Lance was one of the most funny and serious [people] at the same time… I’m so grateful that I got the chance to work with him, twice,” she told the audience.

The premiere brought out familiar faces from the worlds of entertainment and politics.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and Rep. Barbara Lee attend the premiere of the Netflix film Shirley in Los Angeles on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. (Credit: Netflix)
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and Rep. Barbara Lee (Credit: Netflix)

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass drew more attention than most of the Hollywood stars in the audience. Several people lined up in the aisle to take selfies with Bass.

Also attending were California Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and attorney Robert Gottlieb, who served as Chisholm’s national student coordinator for her 1972 presidential bid.

Chisholm was the first woman to vie for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. While she lost in the primary elections, Chisholm paved the way for other women in politics.

Rep. Lee, who recently ended her bid for the U.S. Senate seat held for three decades by Dianne Feinstein, is featured in the film discussing the impact that Chisholm had on her life and career.

Lee has previously described Chisholm as “a champion of the poor and marginalized, and a role model to me and so many other women in politics, especially Black women.”

Other notable attendees at the premiere included actors Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Vivica A. Fox, Michelle Hurd, Diane Lane, Niecy Nash Betts, Keshia Knight Pulliam, and Ming-Na Wen; filmmaker Jeymes Samuel; and producers DeVon Franklin and Lena Waithe.

Vivica A. Fox, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Ming-Na Wen, Niecy Nash Betts attend the Shirley premier in Los Angeles on March 19, 2024. (Credit: Netflix)
Vivica A. Fox, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Ming-Na Wen, Niecy Nash Betts (Credit: Netflix)

Oscar winner John Ridley wrote and directed Shirley.

The filmmaker praised Regina and Reina for their years-long fight to bring Chisholm’s story to the screen.

“Their take on Shirley has always been about representing her as a person, as a human, as an individual, who happened to do amazing things,” Ridley told the audience. “It’s about Shirley, it’s about Shirley, it’s about Shirley, that is the truth. But the reality is we would not be here this evening if it were not for [Regina and Reina].”

Shirley centers on Chisholm’s political career, her fight to be seen and heard by male political leaders, and how her ambition led to tensions in her marriage.

Regina King delivers a powerhouse performance, at times showing vulnerability and a range of emotions.

The ensemble cast also includes Terrence Howard, Lucas Hedges, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Christina Jackson, Michael Cherrie, Dorian Missick, Amirah Vann, W. Earl Brown, Brad James, Reina King, and André Holland.

Shirley currently has an 83 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. The film will be released Friday, March 22 on Netflix.

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