“Southland” actress Regina King dishes on Glocks, Grit and a Move South to TNT


“Southland” actress Regina King hadn’t even unzipped her
puffy Polo jacket at Turner Studios in Midtown last week when she was already
spilling scoop to ATL Intel.

King’s agent was on the phone informing her that she had
just been nominated for a 41st annual NAACP Image Award as
Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series.

King scored the nom for her “Southland” role of the feisty,
wisecracking Los Angeles police detective Lydia Adams.

Beginning tonight (Jan.12) at 10 p.m., the hyper-realistic
police drama moves to the Atlanta-based TNT network after NBC abandoned the
ensemble show to give Jay Leno its plum 10 p.m. timeslot.

Given how that gamble paid off for NBC, King has every
reason to gloat. But the Los Angeles native is more focused on the show’s
future than it’s shaky, hand-held camera-focused past.

“This is the journey this show needed to be on,” King
explains. “We’re now at a network that truly understands the show. At 10 p.m.
on TNT, we’re able to flex those creative muscles.”

Indeed, tonight TNT will air the extended pilot of
“Southland,” restoring scenes NBC cut. In coming weeks, TNT will air all 13
first season episodes of the drama (six of which were ordered by NBC but never

If the show meets TNT’s more modest ratings expectations, a
second season will be ordered.

For King, the role of Lydia Adams is a blessing: a
three-dimensional African-American by-the-book female cop who dispenses both
wisdom and one-liners to her co-workers.

“I love that she’s fun to watch,” King says. “After filming
the second episode I called John [Wells, the show’s producer of “ER” fame] and
said, ‘I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be calling you or not. But I just want
to tell you how much I love breathing life into Lydia.’ ”

King says the real-life LAPD has a similar 18-to-1 male to
female ratio in its ranks. She realizes she’s helping to tell those seldom seen
female cop stories as well.

“As a native and being black, I brought certain preconceived
ideas about the LAPD when I accepted the role,” King explains. “I now have a
new-found respect for the work being done. Meeting and working with the cops
who serve as our technical advisers really has informed me about the sacrifices
they make.”

Making “Southland” look real has meant enduring police boot camp
for the cast and learning how to use the very real firearms used in the job.

“Unfortunately, Lydia carries a 45 on the job,” sighs King.
“Everybody else gets to use a glock. The 45 has a much bigger kick you’ve got
to control.”

And then, there was the first season episode that calls for
Det. Adams to wield a shotgun.

“That took some doing!” cracks King. “I had never fired a
shotgun or even held one. I had to go out to the props truck and practice. The
key is to take it slow and make it look smooth!”