Regina King heartbreakingly admits she feels 'guilt' for son's tragic death

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By Asiya Ali

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Regina King has revealed that she feels "a lot of guilt" over her only child's heartbreaking death.

The Academy Award winner's son, Ian Alexander Jr. - whom she shares with her ex-husband Ian Alexander Sr. - died by suicide in January 2022 just after turning 26.

The 53-year-old actress issued a statement to PEOPLE after the devastating news, which read: "Our family is devastated at the deepest level by the loss of Ian. He is such a bright light who cared so deeply about the happiness of others.

"Our family asks for respectful consideration during this private time. Thank you," she added.

Regina King and son Ian Alexander Jr
Regina King's son Ian Alexander Jr. passed away in January 2022. Credit: Jesse Grant / Getty

Two years on from his death, the 56-year-old actress has opened up about the emotional impact of her loss in an interview with Good Morning America.

She revealed that her forthcoming film, Shirley - which is based on the US’s first Black congresswoman, Shirley Chisholm, and her political rise in 1972 - is dedicated to her late son - who had worked as a DJ.

Watch the Shirley trailer below:

Speaking about the movie, King said: "It's been a 15-year journey since we were gonna tell Shirley's story to now it actually happening. And I think 15 years ago, I wasn't ready to play Shirley. I may have thought that I was then but I wasn't ready. I needed to live more life.

"We felt like there were so many people who did not know who Shirley Chisholm is, who she was… and that bugged us," King said of their motivation to bring Shirley's story to life. "When you're a first, when you set out to do something that no one else has done before, there's no example of that for you. That's a lonely road to travel."

Regina King and Ian Alexander Jr.
Regina shared Ian Alexander Jr. with her ex-husband Ian Alexander Sr. Credit: Kevin Mazur/AMA2019 / Getty

The Harder They Fall star admitted in the interview that "sometimes a lot of guilt comes over" her in the wake of her son's death, sharing: "When a parent loses a child, you still wonder, 'What could I have done so that wouldn't have happened?'"

But since her son's passing, the mom-of-one has had "the time to just sit with Ian's choice" and stated that she "respects" and "understands" that he "didn't want to be here anymore".

"And that's a hard thing for other people to receive, because they did not live our experience, did not live Ian's journey," she said. "It's important to me to honor Ian the totality of who he is - I speak about him in the present, because he is always with me. And the joy and happiness that he gave all of us."

The Poetic Justice actress spoke about Ian's mental health battle, specifically depression, and said that "people expect it to look a certain way, and they expect it to look heavy," but noted that isn't always the case.

Regina King Ian Alexander Jr.
The actress said she "respects" and "understands" that her son didn't want to be here anymore. Credit: Greg Doherty / Getty

Tearfully describing her initial period of grief, the If Beale Street Could Talk star remembered being "so angry with God".

"Why would that weight be given to Ian? Of all of the things that we had gone through – therapy, psychiatrists, programs – and Ian was like, 'I’m tired of talking, Mom.'"

King shared that she is "a different person now" than she was before Ian's passing and that she understands now that "grief is a journey" and is "love that has no place to go."

"I know that I share this grief with everyone, but no one else is Ian’s mom, you know? Only me. So it’s mine. And the sadness will never go away. It will always be with me," she added. "And I think I saw somewhere, 'The sadness is a reminder of how much he means to me,' you know? Happy sorrow."

Directed by John Ridley, Shirley will be in select theaters Friday and premiere on Netflix globally on March 22.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.

Featured image credit: John Sciulli / Getty

Regina King heartbreakingly admits she feels 'guilt' for son's tragic death

vt-author-image

By Asiya Ali

Article saved!Article saved!

Regina King has revealed that she feels "a lot of guilt" over her only child's heartbreaking death.

The Academy Award winner's son, Ian Alexander Jr. - whom she shares with her ex-husband Ian Alexander Sr. - died by suicide in January 2022 just after turning 26.

The 53-year-old actress issued a statement to PEOPLE after the devastating news, which read: "Our family is devastated at the deepest level by the loss of Ian. He is such a bright light who cared so deeply about the happiness of others.

"Our family asks for respectful consideration during this private time. Thank you," she added.

Regina King and son Ian Alexander Jr
Regina King's son Ian Alexander Jr. passed away in January 2022. Credit: Jesse Grant / Getty

Two years on from his death, the 56-year-old actress has opened up about the emotional impact of her loss in an interview with Good Morning America.

She revealed that her forthcoming film, Shirley - which is based on the US’s first Black congresswoman, Shirley Chisholm, and her political rise in 1972 - is dedicated to her late son - who had worked as a DJ.

Watch the Shirley trailer below:

Speaking about the movie, King said: "It's been a 15-year journey since we were gonna tell Shirley's story to now it actually happening. And I think 15 years ago, I wasn't ready to play Shirley. I may have thought that I was then but I wasn't ready. I needed to live more life.

"We felt like there were so many people who did not know who Shirley Chisholm is, who she was… and that bugged us," King said of their motivation to bring Shirley's story to life. "When you're a first, when you set out to do something that no one else has done before, there's no example of that for you. That's a lonely road to travel."

Regina King and Ian Alexander Jr.
Regina shared Ian Alexander Jr. with her ex-husband Ian Alexander Sr. Credit: Kevin Mazur/AMA2019 / Getty

The Harder They Fall star admitted in the interview that "sometimes a lot of guilt comes over" her in the wake of her son's death, sharing: "When a parent loses a child, you still wonder, 'What could I have done so that wouldn't have happened?'"

But since her son's passing, the mom-of-one has had "the time to just sit with Ian's choice" and stated that she "respects" and "understands" that he "didn't want to be here anymore".

"And that's a hard thing for other people to receive, because they did not live our experience, did not live Ian's journey," she said. "It's important to me to honor Ian the totality of who he is - I speak about him in the present, because he is always with me. And the joy and happiness that he gave all of us."

The Poetic Justice actress spoke about Ian's mental health battle, specifically depression, and said that "people expect it to look a certain way, and they expect it to look heavy," but noted that isn't always the case.

Regina King Ian Alexander Jr.
The actress said she "respects" and "understands" that her son didn't want to be here anymore. Credit: Greg Doherty / Getty

Tearfully describing her initial period of grief, the If Beale Street Could Talk star remembered being "so angry with God".

"Why would that weight be given to Ian? Of all of the things that we had gone through – therapy, psychiatrists, programs – and Ian was like, 'I’m tired of talking, Mom.'"

King shared that she is "a different person now" than she was before Ian's passing and that she understands now that "grief is a journey" and is "love that has no place to go."

"I know that I share this grief with everyone, but no one else is Ian’s mom, you know? Only me. So it’s mine. And the sadness will never go away. It will always be with me," she added. "And I think I saw somewhere, 'The sadness is a reminder of how much he means to me,' you know? Happy sorrow."

Directed by John Ridley, Shirley will be in select theaters Friday and premiere on Netflix globally on March 22.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.

Featured image credit: John Sciulli / Getty