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Barry Jenkins breaks down Regina King's Oscar-nominated 'Beale Street' performance: 'It can escape you if you're not paying attention'

·Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment
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When the Oscars roll around Sunday, we have a good idea the scene that will be showcased for Regina King when the nominees for Best Supporting Actress are announced.

King, 48, is favored to win, and there’s a singular moment in If Beale Street Could Talk where she pops off the screen in a heart-wrenching display of raw and desperate emotion. Her character, Sharon Rivers, has traveled down to Puerto Rico to confront the woman who has falsely accused her daughter’s boyfriend of rape.

“This character played by Emily Rios, Victoria Rogers, is not the antagonist in the film. So as you said, Regina has all this desperation but she can’t direct it directly at this woman,” writer-director Barry Jenkins told Yahoo Entertainment (watch above). “Because the problem is not hers. The problem we all share, because we all function within this faulty system of American justice.”

As Jenkins (Moonlight) explained, though, there’s so much more to King’s performance in his adaptation of the seminal James Baldwin novel than one screen-bursting sequence.

“It’s a really wonderful and layered performance that Regina does. … It’s so subtle and so nuanced that the actual power of what she’s doing, it can escape you if you’re not paying attention.”

King, a three-time Emmy winner who has previously dazzled in films like Boyz n the Hood, Jerry Maguire and Ray but scored her first Oscar nomination for Beale Street, was an invaluable resource for Jenkins on the set of the film.

“For me being a man directing this film, there were quite a few days where I had to check my ego. Because I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman. And for me it was awesome to have Regina be a guide through those sequences.”

Watch: Barry Jenkins talks about why the 1970s-set story is still relevant today:

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