Interview with Dorian Missick and Regina King

Dorian Missick and Regina King are co-stars in TNT’s hit cop drama “Southland”. The show is currently entering its 4th season, which begins January 17th, 2012. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Dorian and Regina about working on the show and what we can expect from this exciting season.

Mike Gencarelli: What can you tell us about this season and what we have to look forward to from your characters?
Regina King: Well it’s tough for us because there’s only so much we can reveal. So whenever we get this question it’s kind of like “how do we skirt around it this time?”. Well what we can say is that Robinson, the character that Dorian plays and Adam’s definitely come from probably similar beginnings. Their adult life outside of the job is very different and you get an opportunity to see how those different family lives inform the way they do their jobs or just their day to day thought. Russell’s character kind of had a dysfunctional thing happening within his marriage and then Robinson is the exact opposite. I think it kind of just makes an interesting balance…kind of like a yin and yang thing.

MG: Dorian, you’re joining an already established cast. Does it take a little bit of time for you to find I guess your footing amongst the cast? Or was it right away that you found chemistry?
Dorian Missick: There’s always a struggle when you’re kind of like the new kid on the block. This particular situation was really extra daunting for me simply because I was a huge fan of the show long before it was even an option of me being a part of it. But everybody on the cast is great. We get a little training at the academy, so it gives you the opportunity to get to know everyone and figure out everybody’s personalities. Regina and I have a lot friends in common but I had never actually had a chance to meet her until we started training. I think it was the first time I’d ever met her. Everybody has been really open and friendly. So yeah, it was a nice, smooth transition actually.

MG: Regina, can you talk about reuniting with your “227” costar Marla Gibbs?
RK: It was sweet. I mean the cool thing was that she auditioned for that part sand she got that part on her own merit. They called me and asked me would I be okay with it, after they had decided she was the best for it. And I’m like are you kidding me? Of course.
DM: Man that day was surreal for me.
RK: Was it really?
DM: It was kind of – yeah, because it was kind of early on for me. I think it was like the second episode or something like that.
RK: Yeah. I think you’re right.
DM: I just was like this is a little too much man. I mean I’ve been watching both of them for years and then to get to see you guys together and the energy between the two of you. I enjoyed it. It was one of my favorite days at work period, in my career but definitely on the show. It was a highlight.
RK: It was a special moment. It was. And just to see Marla since she’s still really sharp. Do you know what I mean? She’s been doing this for a long time and she doesn’t miss a beat. She kind of forgot one of her lines and you would have never known.

MG: Do you feel it’s easier to be a part of an ensemble so that you don’t have to carry quite such a heavy load because everything is so good, everyone does such a good job? Or is it easier to play a lead?
RK: Well I mean for me my choice was to be in a show that was an ensemble. I’m not really interested in 17 hour days every day. And that’s kind of what you get when the show is all about you. I just think it’s a little more interesting personally when I’m watching TV and I watch a show and there are quite a few different stories going on. It brings me in more.
DM: Yeah. One of the thing that I particularly love about this show, having done other television shows and things like that, is that the writers really do pay a lot of attention to detail and that enables us to kind of feel more taken care of from an acting perspective. You feel safer walking into a room every time you get a new script because I know from being on other shows. Sometimes you get a script and you want to pray over it before you open it because you have no idea how good or bad it’s going to be. whereas on this show it’s not like that. I really appreciate that. You can tell that the writers care about every character and they care about the story lines enough that they put in energy to develop them So whether it’s playing a lead character or being a part of an ensemble it is really just the writing. You can be the main person of the show and if the show is stupid then it’s not that much you’re not having that much fun from an acting perspective. But here I think that good writing attracts good actors, which attracts good directors. So just from an artistic standpoint, it’s everything that you want.
RK: There’s definitely a trickle down effect.

MG: Do you feel that the writing is better in television or do feature films take priority over that?
RK: I think right now as far as actors are concerned I think we just want – we just are looking for things with good writing just like great characters. just with all the different cable networks there just happens to be in television right now, especially on the cable networks, they’re just writing more that’s interesting for actors. That’s why you’re seeing so many movie actors on TV. I’m not saying that I’m giving up on movies or anything like that. I just am going wherever the art is inspiring. And my journey right now has been it’s inspired me the most, on “Southland”. But there’s just like a lot of great shows on TV now and there’s not that line that used to be there like film actors were just film actors and television actors were just television actors and there was a definitive line. Now that’s all gray. If it’s good work you’re going to respond.
DM: Period. Yeah. I totally agree with that. It’s about the writing. I mean there’s good writing and bad writing in all mediums. You know, coming from the theater I’ve done some really bad plays and that’s the worst because you’re stuck saying these terrible lines for like six to eight weeks, maybe a month. So I think any actor worth his salt they chase after good stories and good characters. Just right now it’s happening a lot in cable television particularly but it’s happening a lot on screen.
I think the film industry is going to have to shrink to a certain extent because these big event movies aren’t making the money that they wanted to make in the past and the writing isn’t that good oftentimes. So now it’s like there’s a resurgence of independent films and television happening. I think we’re in a great time creatively.

MG: Speaking of independent films, there are a lot of actors who are sort of taking the leap to develop and produce themselves. Are either of you sort of moving in that direction, establishing your own production companies and developing more?
RK: Yeah, definitely. I started a production company a few years ago with my sister and have been developing a project that has been very close to us for a couple of years. I’m hoping that everything will be in place, that once we wrap “Southland” in February that it’ll be my theatrical directorial debut.

MG: Can you give us some more information on that film?
RK: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
DM: You’ve got to build on that one.
RK: It’s based a book called “Let the Church Say Amen”. It’s by an author named ReShonda Tate Billingsley. She’s written several books and this is the first book that opens you up to a particular character named Rachel who is kind of the lead character in a lot of her other stories. It was an Essence bestseller and a bestseller on a few other lists. But it’s about a father, who’s a pastor, who’s kind of neglected his family to put time into building his church. As a result, he now has this dysfunctional family so we kind of meet this family right in the height of their dysfunction. We see how they deal with that. I feel like although the characters – the family is a black family that theme is a universal theme where the matriarch or the patriarch neglects their family and the family suffers.
You don’t have to just be black or white or Asian to understand or relate to that experience. So I felt like this would be a great thing for my first piece to tackle because it does have such a universal theme.
DM: That sounds dope.
RK: And yeah…I’m excited about.

MG: How about you Dorian?
DM: I also have a production company. We’ve been developing for the last couple of years a project about the ’70s writer (Donald Duane). I’ve been developing that. Obviously this is the first time I ever talked about it. So yeah, it’s myself and Pete Chatmon, the guy who directed me and Zoe Saldana in “Premium”. So we’ve been developing that for a couple of years and we’re looking to shoot more than likely in the next seven/eight months.
RK: Yeah, it’s definitely a grind but it’s a natural move for actors to have more of a role behind the camera, especially in a time where media is going is with reality TV and with the internet. A lot of people don’t even have cable anymore or TV and they watch everything on the internet. So it’s just I think smart for entertainers to make themselves more familiar and educate themselves on the world of production so that when the shift happens hard core we still remain a part of it.
DM: Right.
RK: The shift to new media.
DM: It’s just responsible. It’s a responsible move in any industry, particularly this industry but in any industry. It’s responsible for you to learn the ins and outs even above and beyond what your job calls for because as the economy changes and as the structure of any kind of job changes you want to be well versed in all aspects of it so that you can continue to keep yourself around that you can still continue to be valuable. Because if you’re a one trick pony, once people are done with that trick you’ve got to find something else to do.

MG: Regina, Is there any truth to the rumor that you and Jackee might be getting your own talk show after your stint on “Watch What Happens Live”?
RK: I didn’t know that there was a rumor.
DM: I would watch it. I started it.
RK: You started it?
DM: I started that rumor. Yeah.
RK: : Funny. As of now that is only a rumor. But hey, you never know. Jackee can handle a show on her own. Definitely.
DM: : I love that.

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