Regina King Ends Her Oscar Speech With a Bit of Church ‘Call and Response’
Sunday night Regina King took home the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of Sharon Rivers in If Beale Street Could Talk.
As she stood on stage to accept her award, she gave a speech that was beautiful and heartfelt. Perhaps the most memorable part was the end when she did something special. After completing her litany of thank you’s, King paused and simply stated, “God is good. All the time.” Her words were met with a voice from the audience responding, “All the time.”
For anyone familiar with the African American church, you instantly recognized this interplay between King and the audience member as a “call and response.’” The “call and response” is when a preacher or worship leader says certain words or phrases (i.e. the “call”), which is then given a “response” by the congregation.
Therefore, King’s declaration that “God is good. All the time,” wasn’t just an expression of her gratitude, but her way of inserting a little black church into the Oscars.
King didn’t relegate her faith to the end of her speech, however. She was not shy about acknowledging the role God played in her success. In reflecting on her career, she thanked her mother not only for her mother’s support, but also for her faith formation.
“I’m an example of what it looks like when support and love is poured into someone,” King said through tears. “Mom, I love you, so much. Thank you for teaching me that God is always leaning—always has been leaning in my direction.”
Indeed God has been leaning in King’s direction. While most actors only experience fleeting success, her career has spanned over three decades and includes both film and television. She got her start in 1985 as Brenda Jenkins in the sitcom 227, playing alongside other Hollywood veterans like Marla Gibs and Jackée Harry. She later experienced breakout roles as the wife of Cuba Gooding Jr.’s character in Jerry Maguire and the wife of Will Smith’s character Enemy of the State.
Despite King’s long list of outstanding film credits, Beale Street was her first Oscar nomination and win. The film is an adaption of James Baldwin’s novel of the same name and follows a young African American couple, Tish and Fonny, in 1970’s Harlem. King plays Tish’s mother. The film is a layered story dealing with issues of race, family, and the criminal justice system in America that are as relevant today as they were in the 1970’s.
Given the film’s connection to the black experience in America, it only seemed fitting that King would end her Oscar acceptance speech also tapping into another important part of the black experience: the church.
(Photo: VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)