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Q&A: ‘Southland’s’ Regina King on motherhood & police partnerships

Regina King in 'Southland'
Regina King in 'Southland'
(c) TNT, 2012

Things have certain gotten complicated for Detective Lydia Adams (Regina King) on Southland! It almost seems somewhat unfair: she finally has a professional partnership that’s really gelling, and yet her personal life is threatening to change that. Lydia has worked so hard and come so far on this job, but now that she has learned she is pregnant, she is going to have some serious decisions to make about how to still best do the job and take care of the life growing inside of her-- even when she’s in some pretty dangerous or otherwise physically exhausting situations.

LA TV Insider Examiner: First of all, congratulations are in order for Lydia! It seems like, in the last few episodes that aired, issues of parenthood have followed her to her cases. As the episodes go on, is the show continuing to prove that when you find out you’re having a baby, suddenly you notice these issues more than ever before?

Regina King: [Laughs] I think so! What the writers on the show are striving for is exactly what you said…Definitely the next few episodes will deal with her being exposed to cases and/or situations that either have children involved or the importance of being a mother involved or concerns with the pregnancy. I know for myself, when I was pregnant up until the time I had finished nursing, when I would even hear a baby cry, my boobs would fill up with milk. You know, you’re just that sensitive as a new mother.

It’s funny that you should just use the word “exposed” because it seems like Ruben won’t be letting go of his correct theory about Lydia.

R.K.: Yeah, he’s sure he knows! I think a lot of that is the beauty about the relationship with Lydia and Ruben. They paired her with someone who is really the polar opposite of her experience. Here you have a man that is a [father] of three-- three girls!-- so he’s very sensitive to what women are doing and what could be going through a woman’s head. That’s what fifty percent of his life is made up of, so it makes sense that he’d be really in tune to ‘Mmm hmm, I know what’s going on here. I’ve been through this three times; I know what I’m looking for!’ I think it adds some levity; I feel like it makes Lydia even more human having him constantly bring it up and make it a reality for her. I think when you’re that age and not in the perfect circumstance, you tend to kind of be in denial for a little bit, so he’s forcing her to not be in denial.

Will we learn who the father is?

R.K. Yes, we will! We will learn who the father is...I think it’s episode seven or eight.

We imagine as the pregnancy evolves there are going to be times where, if we were in the situation, we’d have to stop and think about an action before just doing it. Yet, the job often calls for you to just draw your weapon or chase someone down. What is Lydia’s inner conflict, going forward, about doing the job she has loved for so long versus telling her superiors about he pregnancy so she can be put in a safer position?

R.K.: I think episode six [“Integrity Check”] will be the first wave of ‘Wow, I’ve got to make a choice. And a hardcore choice of no longer going out in the field will definitely come about by the end of episode six. But the thing is, Lydia is someone who-- her life is in her job, so it’s easier said than done to say ‘Okay, I’m just going to be behind the desk and do whatever I can to make sure this pregnancy is safe’…Lydia’s not in a head-frame that that’s an easy decision to make.

But it is her decision, rather than someone learning her secret and forcing her behind the desk?

R.K.: It’s her decision. It’s her decision, and we don’t know what she’s going to decide. There are going to be a series of things that take place between episodes six and ten that are just like a whirlwind of things.

Lydia has a different partner every season. Are you hoping the dynamic with Ruben may last through next season?

R.K.: Honestly, I’m not a person that’s a big fan of the switching up of the partners. Each partner that I’ve had is someone that I thought was a great actor…I still have relationships with all of them, so it is difficult for me personally because I felt that all of them as actors and characters, too, brought something really interesting to the partner relationship. Even with Dorian, I feel the same. I want to see him come back! I think there’s always something that I can see that I want to be explored with the two characters.

Cooper and Tang are about to hit a rough patch; Shawn Hatosy said the honeymoon between Ben and Sammy is over soon; how do things look for Lydia and Ruben as the rest of the season plays out?

R.K. I think it’s a nice rhythm that the characters share. I think it’s also enough of a contrast for there to be tension where there needs to be. They definitely come from two different worlds, and I think they kind of have this yin-yang thing going on. I feel like Ruben [is] the first character that Lydia has allowed to get under her skin but not bother her.

So no case may drive a rift between them in the next batch of episodes?

R.K.: This upcoming episode, what takes place has nothing to do with Ruben. She goes into the field because she’s the only person who’s cross-trained to do it, and they’re short on personnel. But he returns in episode seven.

And now that you’ve been in this role for a while, and you’re out on the streets of Los Angeles as an authority, do your fans approach you differently?

R.K.: There are a lot of new fans who have come along with Southland, and those fans, I think, are really just excited to see me in this role and it not have to do anything with race but it has to do with me being a woman. I think that’s something that-- especially women—want to see and are excited when the opportunity comes. The women, when they watch the show-- obviously the show is gritty and dark-- but they feel like Lydia is kind of like an anchor in a lot of ways and brings a lot of the emotions we crave when we’re watching dramas.

Would you hope that next season we get to see what life on the job is like for other female officers, in order to get more of that emotion and more of that dramatic impact?

R.K.: I do! I do. I feel like as far as being a police officer goes, every single officer, whether they’re a Sergeant, a Detective, whatever level Detective they are, they start off where Ben Sherman’s character started. So there’s so much in between the characters. It would be great to give more explanation as to why these officers make the choice to be the type of cop or the rank of cop they are. I think that’s one of the things that’s really cool about [Lucy Liu’s] Tang this season because you get to see another choice.

Southland airs on TNT on Tuesday nights at 10pm.

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