Rebecca King Crews, “Regina Madre”: “I wish I had known that it’s okay to talk about yourself — to promote yourself”

I wish I had known that it’s okay to talk about yourself — to promote yourself. I was raised in an environment where I was taught not to be vainglorious, so I am very uncomfortable tooting my own horn, which is something you MUST do in this industry. I am getting better at it. As a part of […]

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I wish I had known that it’s okay to talk about yourself — to promote yourself. I was raised in an environment where I was taught not to be vainglorious, so I am very uncomfortable tooting my own horn, which is something you MUST do in this industry. I am getting better at it.

As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Regina Madre, also known as Rebecca King Crews.

Regina Madre is an adult contemporary, R&B artist originally from Benton Harbor, MI. “Regina Madre” is the pseudonym for singer/songwriter/actress and wife to actor Terry Crews, Rebecca King Crews. She debuted the pseudonym in 2018 to get an honest opinion on her music and soon had 2 radio singles, “(I Keep) Holding On” and “Destiny”. Although she has never stopped writing songs, she has taken several breaks from her career to supporting her family. Rebecca believes in putting family first and the rest will follow.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in Gary, Indiana, during the 60s and 70s to an interracial married couple. My mother is African-American and my father, who is deceased, is of Scottish/Sherman and Native American descent. It was 1965, and in many places in the country, their marriage was illegal. My father was a musician and a chemist who worked for US Steel and did gigs on the weekend. He played six instruments — piano, guitar, tuba, accordion, drums, and trumpet. My mother was also a singer, trained in legit opera style vocal, and she worked in healthcare for a while. After my father died suddenly, she took a position as one of the first female and African-American salespersons at Equitable Financial Services, in 1972.

I was surrounded by music and theater. Anything musical, theatrical, and particularly highbrow, we were allowed to watch on television. We never missed the Grammys, the Oscars, or the Tonys. I watched every movie musical ever created and danced and sang along. I began piano lessons at nine years old, but at five and six years old I was already singing and creating my own songs.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I went to college to study musical theater and had already performed with numerous singing groups, choirs, and bands. I wanted to be a performer of some sort. During my college years, I performed in various musicals and with a band before I got married and had children. My family really became my first priority and other than musical directing and singing in my local churches (while Terry was in the NFL), I did not do any theatre or performing in clubs. I committed myself to full-time motherhood.

In my 30s, I began performing again with local groups, and writing and producing my own songs. I was thinking I would be a songwriter, when a friend of mine, an accomplished and Grammy-winning Gospel artist told me to sing my own songs. So I went into the studio with a producer friend of mine and started tinkering around with some of my songs. We released a single that didn’t get any major attention except for airplay on a gospel program, but it was a start.

I discovered that I was being judged primarily on my notoriety, rather than on the music, so I decided to go anonymous and create a pseudonym. I came up with the name REGINA MADRE, meaning “queen mother” in Italian. I felt that it was a representation of women everywhere. Though not all of us have biological children, we all nurture others in a very profound way. This anonymity provided me with a great opportunity to be heard. And heard I was! I got my first radio single with a song called “I’ll Keep Holdin’ On” which played about 10 markets in the south and Midwest and nationally on XM Radio — Heart & Soul. It was a great moral victory to know that people liked the music, and did not judge me on anything but that. I’m sure if they’d known I was a 52-year-old mother and grandmother, they wouldn’t have played my music. I released a second single that got even better airplay called “Destiny” and REGINA MADRE was born.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

This story, actually, is about my acting career and happened when we first moved to LA in 1997. I bought a subscription to Backstage West Magazine and figured I could submit myself on auditions. I showed up to an audition that turned out to not be in an office but in a motor home parked in the back of a hardware store. As I approached the mobile home, I thought to myself “this is how actresses die 😱” just showing up to things! The couple claimed they were writing an independent film and needed someone who could sing and act. The two of them began to pick up their instruments and play and asked me to sing along. The wife had on a Viking hat, and the husband had on a big cowboy hat. He played the banjo and she played the accordion. I sang with them for about four bars, and then grabbed my things and ran out of the motor home. I thought to myself “I escaped with my life!”

Needless to say, I never submitted myself again through Backstage West! Oddly, it seemed that this couple was stalking me. I would get a phone call from their number, and just hear them talking in the background. I guess it was a butt dial, but it freaked me out and I was ready to call the police on them! In retrospect, I think they were harmless, but I couldn’t help but think that every actress in the world has had a Twilight Zone audition in their personal experience. It wouldn’t be Hollywood without that!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In one of my first recording sessions, I did not know my place. I began to boss around the musicians and overstep my boundaries with the producer. I had come from a position of being a music and choir director at my church, so I was used to giving orders and telling people exactly what I wanted. I did not understand the protocol of allowing the producer to do his job. I ran all over the guy and he had to pull me to the side to tell me to let him do his job. I was mortified! The musicians were all very patient and kind and basically did whatever I told them because it was my song…but I learned a valuable lesson that day about respecting your team and I haven’t forgotten it.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

In addition to releasing my music project, I am launching luxury apparel and accessory line. It includes suit wear, handbags, shoes, and beauty. I’m very, very excited about this because I’ve always wanted to be in that space and provide a service to women that I wish I had myself as a consumer. It was born out of necessity because I often could not find things that I wanted and needed, and could not find among my favorite designers. One thing that I really love is a good suit, and many of my favorite designers either did not fit me well, or I didn’t care for the colors they offered, so I started making my own. I wore them on the red carpet and soon everyone was asking where I got them. I knew I had a burgeoning business! REBECCA CREWS LLC was born! We are hoping to launch in the fall of 2021 with placements in boutiques and some major department stores as well. I’m thrilled about this line and I think it’s going to do very well!

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Sadly, we have not solved this problem, as evidenced by the recent and overwhelmingly powerful demonstrations that took place during the pandemic around the issue of racial justice. As a biracial woman, I am very familiar with the scourge of racism and its effects on those victimized by it, especially the subtle forms. I have been present when my brown-skinned children have been mistreated in restaurants and department stores — places that I frequent and am always treated well because of my fair skin. And while America has made great strides, we have a ways to go. It is imperative that in a culture like ours, we see people of every hue and every background represented fairly and accurately in our media. Sometimes we get it wrong, sometimes we try too hard, but we must keep trying. It is respect for all that matters. And those of us that are privileged, either by our color or our class, must stand for those who are victimized until it is a thing of the past. Sometimes we have to swing hard the other way to balance it out and that is okay. I’m happy to see that corporations and brands have heard the voice of the people and have responded. For now. Let’s keep the conversation going.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

1. I wish someone had told me how important it is to network. Though I am not a shy person, I have a fear of rejection (NOT great for an actor) and have not been faithful about introducing myself to people that can help me, and often waited until those people were introduced to me by others. I think I would’ve gotten places sooner had I networked more.

2. I wish someone had told me how hard this is. And that everybody in the game, to some degree, is going to try to take advantage because everyone’s afraid that you’re going to take advantage of them. I have learned to expect the unexpected. And not get so upset when this happens and trust that it is just part of the process.

3. I wish I had known that it’s okay to talk about yourself — to promote yourself. I was raised in an environment where I was taught not to be vainglorious, so I am very uncomfortable tooting my own horn, which is something you MUST do in this industry. I am getting better at it.

4. I wish I’d known that typecasting is good. When you know your look and your type, you can book much more work instead of trying to be every woman. Very, very, key principle to the entertainment industry, and in acting particularly. Though I am a mom and a housewife, I don’t exactly look like one and would often get cast as the seductress and the vixen, and resented it highly because I think I’m smart (LOL). I even dyed my hair dark brown to stop getting offered parts as the bimbo. Eventually, age and time provided me with the best excuse ever to not play the sleazy woman, and now I get cast as the decent-looking grandmother, and I like that very much.

5. I wish I’d known that everything counts. That often work you do in one segment in the industry can transition you into the others. I was very much against doing my reality show, The Family Crews, because I did not want that invasion of my privacy. But that was what gave me all of my other opportunities and I’m thankful for that. One thing that I learned from my husband is that you stay open to everything because you never know which thing might be your breakthrough. He has had a long, and fruitful career because of his openness to doing things other actors closed their minds to. And he has transitioned from athlete to actor, to host and spokesperson, as well as a speaker, and author, because of this open mindset. I’m grateful to have learned from my husband as I watched him grow into the person he is today.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not burn out”?

Have peace of mind that in due season, all things will come together. I have an abiding faith, and that has caused me to not lose it when things don’t go the way I plan. If you can remember that it is only your job to plant the seed and that you can’t make it grow, then you rest in the fact that when you’ve done all you can, you trust and believe that your efforts will be rewarded. Then go have a latte, and call your mother! And remember that generation of people before you made it, and so will you.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would have to say that I would do something involving the care of orphans and disadvantaged children around the world. There are many organizations doing great work, and one of them that I support is World Vision. If I could be a part of advocating for adoption and sponsorship, I believe we could definitely change the world. Terry and I have adopted some children in other countries that we have been supporting for many years. It is our hope that they can transcend the circumstances that they were born into with a little support from those of us who have more. Just think what could happen if every able-bodied, employed person gave just a little to help one of these, I think we could eliminate poverty in these children’s lives. The child sex trade and many other atrocities that are committed against poor children around the world would not be able to thrive if we could scoop these kids up, as well as their families, and lift them out of the desperate situation that leaves them vulnerable to this crime. Let’s end the supply and end the demand.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

This is very hard because there are so many people that are a part of my journey. From producers, I worked with within the early years, whose music never saw the light of day, to the team who helped me with this current project, whose professionalism exceeded anything that I have done up to now. My greatest thank you goes to my husband, Terry. He has supported every dream, underwritten every project, and in the meantime, has never made me feel like I was not a worthwhile investment. He is my hero, bar none. Plus he gets half of everything I earn (LOL) and he reminds me every day! I jokingly tell him that I’m going to buy him his Lamborghini with my records and my clothing line. He laughingly says “I’ll take it!”

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It’s from the Bible… Proverbs 3:6 reads, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” This scripture has been my guiding path since I was a teenager when I first decided to put my faith in Christ. It has kept me ever since. I seek God in prayer every day about the directions I take in just about every area of my life, and I ask for guidance and protection. It has made me a wiser woman and has taught me the importance of listening and learning from others in my journey. From my experience, the wisdom and guidance that I have prayed for have often come through people and circumstances that I did not expect. But, because I was open, I was able to hear, and in many cases, avoid disaster. Amen.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Oh my, it would have to be my goddess, my queen, my ultimate idol, the one and only, SADE.🙏🏼 Since she is such a private person, I don’t know if she does lunches with her fans, but I would be tremendously honored to sit and pick her brain about all the things in her life, especially her career. That would just make my day. She is someone whose beauty and class has been a benchmark for me as a woman and as an artist, and she is someone whose timeless and classic style makes me want to create a legacy very much like hers.

How can our readers follow you online?




This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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