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Screen Queens: Regina King

In 2010, Regina King wrote a scathing Huffington Post piece about the Emmys' diversity problem. Initially upset when she noticed veteran Sesame Street actress Alaina Reed Hall was not included in that year’s In Memoriam tribute, she also was dismayed when she saw a photo of True Blood star Rutina Wesley with a caption that read, "Regina King enters the 62nd Emmys." "Up to and including this year, there have been only 53 non-white actors nominated for Emmys out of nearly 1,000 possible nominations in the top four acting categories for drama and comedy," she noted . She later admitted that she assumed she'd never land an Emmy nomination, let alone win, after publishing that piece. But that's exactly what happened in 2015, when King took home the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series for American Crime . She won again the following year. It may have surprised King, but it probably didn't surprise her fans, who've literally watched the actress grow up on TV, becoming one of the industry's most accomplished and wide-ranging performers.   The Child Actor Born in Cincinnati and raised in Los Angeles, King was just 14 when she landed her first acting role — and it was a good one. As Brenda, the smart and sassy daughter of Mary Jenkins on NBC's 227 , King got to spend five years learning from Jackée Harry and Marla Gibbs and perfecting her "are you kidding me?" face.     The Move to Movies Not yet 20 when 227 ended in 1990, King spent the first part of the decade shattering casting agents' perceptions of her in supporting roles in several films, including Boyz n the Hood , Poetic Justice , and Friday , before landing her most high-profile movie, Jerry Maguire . She made a few TV appearances in the mid-'90s, including guest spots on Northern Exposure and Living Single .     A Sitcom, a Drama, and a Cartoon The aughts were a mixed bag in terms of TV work. NBC sitcom Leap of Faith only lasted six episodes, despite a great cast that included Sarah Paulson and Ken Marino. (Low-for-2002 ratings of about 15 million would make it today's top comedy, by the way.) But King recurred as Sandra Palmer during Season 6 of 24 . Most importantly, she voiced Huey and Riley Freeman on the Peabody Award-winning animated series The Boondocks )     A TV Triumph Back when basic cable networks weren't quite the Emmy darlings they are now, King found critical success in TNT's Southland . The show began on NBC in 2009, but was canceled after seven episodes (in part so the network could implement the abysmal 10 p.m. Jay Leno experiment). TNT aired the remaining six, then kept it on the air through 2013. Her portrayal of Det. Lydia Adams earned her nominations for the Critics' Choice Awards in 2012 and 2013. The series also offered King her first shot at directing TV.     All Hail the King In 2015, King began starring in the ABC anthology series American Crime , Oscar-winner John Ridley's exploration of crime and punishment in the U.S. Season 1 saw King playing Aliyah Shadeed, a devoutly religious convert to Islam helping her brother, a murder suspect. She won her second consecutive Emmy for her portrayal of Terri LaCroix in the second season, which shifted focus to racism, classism, and homophobia as seen through the prism of an alleged sexual assault. ( Season 3 is now airing.)     King's 2016 also saw her earn raves for her work on The Leftovers , HBO's devastating drama about people struggling to explain the sudden "departure" of 140 million people, about 2 percent of the world's population. (The third and final season premieres in April.)     A Behind-the-Scenes Queen As if appearing in two award-winning dramas wasn't enough, King also spent part of 2016 directing a handful of one-hour dramas: Pitch , Greenleaf , Animal Kingdom , The Catch , and Scandal . When you're the King, it's an obvious career move.     Who's your screen queen? Let us know in the comments below! And check out our other Screen Queens: Taraji P. Henson and Lauren Graham . p { text-align: justify; }