Magnolia Pictures
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August 25, 2018 at 02:40 PM EDT

Her voice goes up an octave, an “Oh!” springs out, and she starts fast-talking. Regina Hall is excited. Asked for tangible ways to support woman, the actress immediately muses. It’s clear she’s pleased with the unexpected question, a reprieve from rote press interrogations on how she felt about the script and her time on set for her new film Support the Girls, out in theaters now (She loved both).

First up, Hall wants better parking spots. Pregnant woman shouldn’t have to walk as far, plus men could use the exercise. “Somebody there got her pregnant, whether he’s in that building or another one,” Hall says in her unintentionally comedic yet wholly sincere cadence.

The actress has proven memorable as the caretaker best friend, from Girls Trip’s Flossy Posse to The Best Man crew. With Support the Girls, she’s no longer on the sidelines setting jokes for her costars and punting demands for the spotlight. Hall takes the lead as Lisa, a manager of the fictional Hooters-esque restaurant Double Whammies where both curves and curly fries are on the menu.

Magnolia Pictures

In charge both on-screen and off, Hall became a den mother to the string of young actresses playing the Double Whammies waitresses, led by Haley Lu Richardson (Columbus) and Shayna McHayle (a.k.a rapper Junglepussy). She’d ask about their boyfriends, their careers and if they wanted fried pickles with their order (her fast-food favorite) while running off to grab lunches from real-life restaurant Twin Peaks across the parking lot, where she shadowed for a day.

“The girls were so easy to care about,” Hall says of her costars in jean booty short and low-cut crop-top costumes. “You don’t of think of it because a family you think of a G-rating, but it is family—with cleavage and little butt cheek.”

And as the matriarch, Hall wants higher wages for her female team. She and her publicists are wearing bras during our interview. I, a now tongue-tied male, am not, to which she knowingly replies, “There is no man in this hotel that has on a bra, so we need more money to buy bras.”

Even over the phone, Hall radiates positivity. You visualize her unshakeable smile cutting through the lower half of her face illuminated by her bright brown eyes. It’s this unwavering hope that attracted director and writer Andrew Bujalski.

Magnolia Pictures

When casting Lisa, Bujalski wasn’t looking for just black actresses. The script didn’t mention her race. “I love having characters I bring my experience as a woman and as a black woman to that isn’t written with that in mind,” she says. After meeting Hall at the Girls Trip wrap up party in New Orleans—he was her guest—Bujalski saw an opportunity for Hall to bring her experience as a black woman, a societal outsider, to his story of a woman disparate to her job. Though Bujalski quickly notes, “If it wasn’t Regina, if it was somebody who couldn’t be brilliant in the part, then we wouldn’t have done it.”

With upcoming features in the highly anticipated fall film The Hate U Give, undated Showtime comedy Black Monday and rumored Girls Trip sequel, Hall’s career is soaring. Though she’ll, unfortunately, slip back into supporting roles—she notes, “Most times in life we make very lateral moves”—right now Hall is enjoying her time center stage, taking the moment to issue a final demand: cute friend workday. “Wouldn’t it be nice to just stare at a cute boy all day?” Hall ponders. “I’ve already got the building working harder just by bring your cute friend to work day.”

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