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Regina Hall talks sisterhood, STEM and staying power

STAR POWER: Regina Hall

WHEN YOU think of Black Hollywood, Regina Hall definitely comes to mind.

The industry vet, best known for her roles in Scary Movie and Think Like A Man to Girls Trip and The Best Man, has continued to lay the groundwork for up and coming black actresses for almost two decades - something which inspired her to take on the role of Jordan Sanders in Little.

“I really loved that at such a young age, Marsai Martin picked this project and I wanted to support her in anyway I could to get this film made so she could bring her dream and vision to life,” says Hall. “Also it was really fun to play someone so rotten.”

The body swap comedy, which was conceptualised and executively produced by 14-year-old Black-ish star Marsai Martin, follows the life of Jordan Sanders - a take-no-prisoners boss who is mean to her employers and transforms into her younger self [Marsai] at a point in her life when the pressures of adulthood become too much to bear.

Martin and Hall along with co-star Issa Rae and director Tina Gordon developed a sisterhood throughout filming and Hall previously worked with Martin on an episode of Black-ish and Rae on the Angie Thomas adaptation The Hate U Give.

“It was great to work with Marsai and Issa again and that’s one of the great things about collaboration - working with people who you respect and like,” says the Washington native.

“So for me, loving both of them comedically and then as people, I loved that opportunity to work with them again. There was a lot of girl power on set and it was wonderful to play that character and experience it.”

Girl power was certainly in abundance with this project. From a female director and female screenwriters, to the entire concept developed by Martin - Little provides an insight into black female talent in front of the camera and behind the scenes.

“Obviously all women do things differently, but I thought it was really fun to have this kind of movie with women behind it. Tina is so collaborative and I think the way we’re able to voice things and approach things as a woman is completely different and wonderful.”

This openness among the cast and crew allowed the 48-year-old actress to go full throttle with the role of Jordan, moulding her into what Hall describes as a “likeable woman that you can’t stand.”

“There was challenge with taking on this role and making sure she stayed comedic but also felt like a real person,” notes the NYU graduate. “Also people don't get to see me act like this, so you want to make sure that an audience who maybe sees you one way can view you differently and just enjoy seeing this character that is rotten.

The role is quite a departure for Hall, who is known for playing more lighthearted comedic characters, like the hilarious Brenda in the Scary Movie Franchise or the naughty but nice Ryan Pierce in Girls Trip.

“When I first read the script, I just thought I could have so much fun with her and that really intrigued me. I also loved that they made her this mogul in the tech world and I thought that was incredibly interesting that as a child she loved science.”

Taking on the role of a black female boss in the STEM sector was a message in itself to an industry which also lacks in black female representation.

New research from Hired, a marketplace that matches tech talent with companies, found that black women and men are paid considerably less than their peers in their third yearly report looking at race and salary in the tech industry in the US.

Jordan’s character as a tech mogul is a subtle nod to the need for more representation as Little brings to light stories and images of black women in other sectors and spaces with bounds of humour and black girl magic.

“Film and TV is for, its for storytelling and if we can find a way that can express and tells those stories that can increase how we as an audience see things and perceive people then that's great,” says Hall.

“A lot of time, people may think they’re alone in a situation, but movies expands experiences. Stories allow us to have people see beyond what stereotypes they may have and that’s the beauty of cinema.”

Little is in cinemas April 12.

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