BET Awards Host Regina Hall Talks ‘Shaft’ Remake, Cardi B and Abortion

Actress and comedian Regina Hall is set to host the 2019 BET Awards. The show, which is in its 19th year, airs live from downtown Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater on June 23 and recognizes winners across 20 categories. Cardi B leads with 7 nominations, followed by Drake with five, and Beyonce, Travis Scott and J. Cole, each with four.

Best known for roles in the “Scary Movie” franchise, “Girls Trip,” and “The Hate U Give,” Hall currently stars in Showtime’s “Black Monday” and will next be seen in the movie “Shaft,” opening June 14 — “a classic,” she says of the 1971 original. At the BET Awards, she’s up for best actress, alongside Issa Rae, Regina King, Taraji P. Henson, Tiffany Haddish and Viola Davis.

Variety caught up with Hall to talk about her preparations for the big night, love for Cardi B, and thoughts on the recent spate of state-legislated abortion bans.

What did it mean to get the call to host this year’s BET awards?
It was really exciting. I’ve watched the BET Awards since its inception so I’m honored to be able to host it. It’s scary though! [Laughs] It’s a big audience. You wanna have a show that’s entertaining for the live audience and the people watching it.

How do you overcome your nerves?
Gosh, you just do it. There’s something about just doing something that makes you move past it. That’s what keeps you thinking, practicing and figuring it out — the nerves are what make you prepared with everything.

What are you most looking forward to?
Other than for them to be over? I’m excited to see the performances and all the people being honored. There will be some great achievements celebrated.

Cardi B is poised to be the queen of the night, coming in with seven nominations. 
I love Cardi! She’s honest and really true to who she is. I could say a bunch of things I love about her but most importantly, I love her music. Her sound, her songs, her style, I like the way she rhymes with the accent. She’s really talented.

Are you a Drake fan, too?
Yeah, Drake’s great.

How challenging is it to do what he did — transition from teenage actor to global music star?
It’s pretty phenomenal, [but] I don’t look at what people graduate from, I look at what they do and how well they do it. He’s unique and talented, it’s wonderful to watch him have success like that. … More than anything, he just continues to evolve as an artist. More than growing into a global superstar, he’s grown into a young man and still kept his Canadian roots and honesty. He’s Drake, shit. What can you say?

Do you have a favorite Drake record?
It’s so hard because Drake has a million songs. I like “Sicko Mode” with Travis Scott.

You play Mrs. Shaft opposite Samuel L. Jackson in the “Shaft” remake. What can you tell us about the role and how you approached the character?
Just that she’s the perfect counterpart for Shaft. When people see it, they’ll feel like they’re made for each other. The writers have done a great job in writing it and creating who she was. At that point, you’re just trying to live up to what’s on the pave and see what you can bring to it individually.

Scenes from “Shaft” were filmed in Georgia, where a bill aiming to outlaw abortion is on the table. What are your thoughts on the abortion ban?
I’m a believer in pro-choice.

What do you think needs to happen?
What happened has already happened, that’s why we have Roe V. Wade. I think we just need to leave what happened alone.

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