IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Regina Hall reveals the heartbreaking moment that helped her become a movie star

In a recent Sunday Sitdown with TODAY's Willie Geist, Hall revealed that before she got her start as an actor, she had pursued a master's degree in journalism from NYU.

Regina Hall had her big break on the silver screen when she appeared in the 1999 comedy “The Best Man,” quickly followed by her hilarious role in 2000’s “Scary Movie,” which led to several appearances in the franchise’s subsequent additions.

Hall’s most recent role had the actor starring alongside “This Is Us” star Sterling K. Brown in the mockumentary-style comedy “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul” which opened on Sept. 2.

During a recent Sunday Sitdown with TODAY’s Willie Geist, Hall reflected on the beginning of her now decades-long career and how she got to where she is today.

After growing up in Washington D.C., Hall went to both college and grad school in New York City, where she received a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, before moving to Harlem after wrapping up her education.

When asked by Willie why she chose to study journalism during grad school, the 51-year-old called the subject “interesting,” explaining, “I was in school and I read a book, it’s called ‘Democracy in America.' Now, that book really resonated with me that if you do not have the press, if you do not have journalism—a free press—then you cannot maintain democracy.”

Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist - Season 36
Regina Hall and Willie Geist on September 4, 2022Nathan Congleton / NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

However, when Hall’s father passed away suddenly during her first trimester at NYU, she had to find the means to make more money. 

“I had a friend who was like, ‘If you need to earn some extra money, you could do commercials.’ And that’s how I was introduced to it,” she recalled. “But my father’s death, I was young. I was 23, so it was sobering and painful, but it sort of redirected my journey.”

Though Hall’s big break came from the comedy “The Best Man,” the actor said that she initially thought that she hadn’t gotten the role as Candy, a dancer, in the movie because she only had one dance move to her name. 

“I had a move because one of the girls in my acting class used to be an exotic dancer and I said I need to learn a dance and she said, ‘You don’t have to know anything. You have to do this one move and that’s it,’” she said. “And I did that and they stopped the music. The producers said, ‘Can you do anything else?’ and I said, 'yes' and then I just got my clothes and said, 'thank you' and I left…because I was like, well, I’m not gonna get it. Then they called and said we really liked her, but she can’t really dance.”

However, once she was teamed up with a choreographer, she got the green light for the role that kick-started a career that’s lasted over two decades.

Outside of her work as an actor, Hall made headlines this year after she hosted the 94th Academy Awards in March alongside Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes. The trio were the first hosts since 2019 and delivered plenty of zingers throughout the evening. 

The night was unfortunately overshadowed by the moment Will Smith slapped Chris Rock during the broadcast after the comedian made a joke at the expense of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Hall recently touched on the moment during an interview with Variety, telling the outlet at the premiere of her new movie, “I think it’s a tough thing, and I know it’s a difficult road. The first step is he apologized. How people see it, it’s up to them…I know that wasn’t easy.”

When Willie asked Hall what the moment was like, the “Little” star admitted that she had “missed the commotion,” explaining that “ironically, in Regina Hall fashion, I had literally gone to my trailer.”

“To be honest, I think we were all surprised and my prayers go to everyone involved in the situation because I’m sure it can’t be easy,” she said.

Hall made sure to sneak in one last quip before the interview ended, adding, “Just glad he laughed at my joke.”