Regina King sat down for her first television interview with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts to discuss her upcoming movie Shirley and her family tragedy.

The actress, 53, was on hand to promote her new Netflix film, a biopic about the first Black congresswoman, Shirley Chisholm, and her historic presidential campaign.

She got particularly emotional, however, when the conversation turned to her son Ian Alexander Jr., who tragically died by suicide at the age of 26 in January 2022.

After mentioning that she’d dedicated the film to Ian, she spoke about receding the spotlight the past two years and said she was a “different person now than I was January 19.”

The Oscar-winning star spoke candidly about the struggles he’d faced with his mental health, having suffered from depression and gone through extensive therapy before his passing.

Ian Alexander Jr. and Regina King, wearing Gucci, attend the 2019 LACMA Art + Film Gala Presented By Gucci at LACMA on November 02, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.© Getty Images
Regina opened in her first televised interview since her son Ian Alexander Jr.’s passing

“When it comes to depression, people expect it to look a certain way,” she stated haltingly. “And they expect it to look heavy…to have to experience this and not have the time to sit with Ian’s choice, which I respect and understand, that he didn’t wanna be here anymore.

“And that’s a hard thing for other people to receive because they did not live our experience, they did not live Ian’s journey.”

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Regina shared Ian with her ex-husband Ian Alexander Sr., to whom she was married from 1997 to 2007. The younger Ian was a DJ and recording artist, and often joyfully accompanied his mom to red carpet events as well.

Actress Regina King (R) and son Ian Alexander Jr attend the 45th NAACP Image Awards presented by TV One at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 22, 2014 in Pasadena, California.© Getty Images
“…he’s always with me and the joy and happiness that he gave all of us.”

She cited going to several “therapy and psychiatrists and programs” and eventually, Ian grew frustrated and she recalled him saying: “I’m tired of talking, mom.”

Regina called her favorite thing about herself being “Ian’s mom” and spoke about being “triggered” by his memory, but preferring to recall him with laughter and a smile.

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The star made her grand comeback at the 96th Academy Awards on Sunday, March 10, as one of the five presenters in the Best Supporting Actress category.

Mary Steenburgen, Lupita Nyong'o, Jamie Lee Curtis, Rita Moreno and Regina King speak onstage during the 96th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 10, 2024 © Getty Images
Regina returned to the Oscars stage this weekend to present Best Supporting Actress

Regina and Robin gushed over her appearance, particularly the fact that she wore a beautiful orange gown, a tribute to her late son and his favorite color.

Robin spoke with her co-hosts in the GMA studio and mentioned that the Boyz n The Hood star said that every time she felt his present in some way, she would call them her “Ianspirations.”

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Regina first broke her silence on her son’s passing a year after, penning on Instagram: “January 19th is Ian’s Worthday. As we still process his physical absence, we celebrate his presence. 

Regina King speaks onstage during the 96th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 10, 2024 in Hollywood, California.© Getty Images
The actress wore an orange gown as a tribute to her son, whose favorite color was orange

“We are all in different places on the planet…so is Ian. His spirit is the thread that connects us. Of course orange is your favorite color…It’s the fire and the calm. I see you in everything I breath. My absolute favorite thing about myself is being ….Regina the mother of Ian the GodKing. Continue to shine bright, my guiding light.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, check out these resources for guidance

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