This article about Regina Hall first appeared in the TheWrap magazine’s Oscar Nominations Preview issue.
Regina Hall’s mother always told her, “Nothing beats a failure but a try.” Although Hall didn’t know what that meant as a kid, her character in Andrew Bujalski’s “Support the Girls“ helped her to understand.
Hall plays Lisa, the manager of a Hooters-style family restaurant called Double Whammies. Her character cares so deeply for her employees, all twentysomething girls with bare midriffs, push-up bras and cutoff Daisy Dukes, that they’re willing to put in the effort at this otherwise crummy job.
“I can take f—ing up all day, but I can’t take not trying,” Hall’s Lisa says in the film. It’s a line that resonated deeply with Hall when she read Bujalski’s script.
“She’s stuck a little bit,” Hall said. “Life can be tough. You make the most of it, and there’s so many people in the world who do that.”
At first glance, Lisa is far different from Ryan Pierce, the highly successful branding expert Hall portrayed in the massive, raunchy studio comedy “Girls Trip.” But in each film, Hall plays a leader among a group of working women, feeding off their energy to fuel her performance and vice versa. And though her characters are drowning under the weight of so many responsibilities, they always put a good face and positive spin on every situation.
“Life is different for them,” Hall says of the working class women in “Support the Girls.” “Trajectories are different. Imagination is different. And yet the heart isn’t. Big hearts. Big zest for life. A joy, because when they’re running that restaurant, they’re joyful.”
Hall, too, worked bad waitress jobs early in her career. It allowed her to give a delicate, multidimensional performance that has already won her the best-actress prize from the Gotham Awards and the New York Film Critics Circle, along with a Spirit Awards nomination.
But overcoming built-in prejudices about the film hasn’t always been easy — including the prejudices Hall herself brought to the script, which she expected to go in a more typical and less interesting comedic direction.
“I kept waiting for this studio-engine plot to reveal, and it didn’t,” she said. “And I just was like, ‘Wow, in life we make so many moves that are lateral.’ It felt like people doing the best they can in life. And I thought it was interesting that [Bujalski] had this world of sisterhood juxtaposed with a restaurant, that he showed that kind of solidarity and empowerment.”
Hall said that “Support the Girls“ was turned down by the Sundance Film Festival — because, she suggested, a comedy directed and written by a man about women at a place called Double Whammies sounded inappropriate in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
But nine months after its premiere at South by Southwest, audiences are continuing to discover “Support the Girls“ and respond to its themes.
“Life is difficult. Things are expensive. The economy is uncertain, and [we] have a story with working-class people that’s about discovering that,” Hall said. “There is something about the people you work with when you love them that does make any environment kind of amazing.”
To read more of the Oscars Nomination Preview issue, click here.