By Ruth Kinane
January 22, 2019 at 09:52 AM EST

On Feb. 24, winners will be crowned at the 91st Academy Awards. But before the red carpet is rolled out and envelopes are opened, Entertainment Weekly has inside intel on the 2019 nominees. Keep checking back at this week for spotlights on contenders in all the major categories.

Starring in: If Beale Street Could Talk
Age: 48
Oscar Past: 0 nominations, 0 wins
Role Call: Sharon Rivers, the devoted matriarch ready to do anything to save her daughter’s lover from his unjust fate.

For Regina King, it was always all about the love. “What resonated most for me about the character and the story itself is the love this woman has for her family and the love the family has for each other,” she explains of her role in Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel If Beale Street Could Talk.

King’s portrayal of Sharon Rivers, a mother intent on freeing her daughter’s soul mate from wrongful imprisonment, is both vulnerable and powerful at once. The Golden Globe winner credits her director for anticipating the chemistry between the actors, thereby creating a family on set and on screen. “He knew we would all come to the table with an understanding of the responsibility that we had,” says King. “As black Americans, we know this family, but art doesn’t reflect that as often as we’d like. I’m grateful for the opportunity to play a woman that embodies the things I love about my mother and my grandmother.”

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If Beale Street Could Talk

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  • Barry Jenkins