Regina King Talks About Playing A Muslim On The Racially Charged Show ‘American Crime’

The racially charged ABC show American Crime features a large ensemble that portray people from all walks of life. Some are racist who don’t exactly fit into the “white privilege” stereotype, and others are just trying to get by in a system that has already failed them. Of those people is actress Regina King, who plays an African-American woman who converted to the Muslim religion.

King’s character’s name is Aliyah Shadeed but was born Doreen Nix before she discovered the Islamic religion. The majority of her storyline has to do with her brother, Carter Nix, who she’s desperately trying to save from a continued life of drugs and pimping. Although King gets minimal screen time among the large cast, she has some memorable yet polarizing lines. The most memorable one yet?

“You take their drugs, you sleep with their women, and then they put you in their cage.”

On American Crime, no character is spared. Everyone has their truth to tell, and most of it is not politically correct, but it’s a harsh reality of the world we live in today.

During the press rounds, Regina King has been speaking about what she learned by portraying a Muslim woman.

Of her character, King said, “She’s a woman that’s really strong in her faith. She’s a devout Muslim. She comes to Modesto to fight for her brother. Sometimes her religion might get in the way, and sometimes it maybe the only thing they have to stand on.”

As for what she learned about her character, that all came throughout her research.

“I learned first and foremost how many misconceptions there are about the Muslim religion. Especially when it comes to American Muslims, so that was really interesting to learn, and I got to learn that because I got to work very closely to a Muslim woman who was born in America, born a Muslim child, and hearing her life stories definitely helped me to formulate who Aaliyah was.”

It’s important to have stories like Aliyah Shadeed’s on network television, especially in a day and age where there’s racially charged conversations going on throughout our culture. It’s not only a discussion that’s happening in households, but in Hollywood as well.

Recently, Deadline Hollywood wrote a piece suggesting there were too many African Americans on television with the rise of popular shows like Empire and How to Get Away with Murder. Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes shot back, saying that if anything, television was “normalizing” society on television sets. While reflecting on Rhimes’ comments, King related it back to American Crime’s director, John Ridley.

“[American Crime director] John Ridley uses the word ‘reflective,’ often, and Shonda, with ‘normalizing,’ I think those two words are so much better than using the word ‘diverse.’ I think when you look at America and what America is made up of, it’s not what we see on TV.”

She continued, “So as the stories start to get more broad, as they start to be told from different perspectives, then TV starts to become more normal. You start to have art imitating life more.”

What do you think of Regina King’s comments?

[Image via ABC]

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