Regina King: Oscar-winning actress opens up about son, Ian Alexander Jr, who died by suicide at the age of 26

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Actress and director Regina King has finally opened up about his son's death

Actor and director Regina King has finally opened up about her son's death. The 53-year-old Oscar-award winning actress said she at times feels "guilt" after her son Ian Alexander Jr took his own life at the age of 26 in January 2022.

Speaking for the first time since the tragedy on Good Morning America, the 'One Night in Miami' director said she is now "a different person" as she vows to continue to her son's legacy despite her still struggling to come to terms with her loss.

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She told the show: “Grief is a journey. I understand that grief is love that has no place to go.” She added: It’s important to me to honor Ian in the totality of who he is, speak about him in the present because he is always with me, the joy and happiness that he gave all of us."

Ian is King’s only child, shared with her ex-husband, record producer Ian Alexander Sr. She said her son struggled with mental health, which left her wondering if she could have done something as a parent to prevent what happened. However, she said, she respects his choice.

She explained: “When it comes to depression, people expect it to look a certain way and they expect it to look heavy. And people expect that … to have to experience this and not be able to have the time to just sit with Ian’s choice, which I respect and understand, you know, that he didn’t wanna be here anymore. That’s a hard thing for other people to receive because they did not live our experience, did not live Ian’s journey."

Initially after her son’s death, she questioned why her son had to bear such a heavy burden. She said: “Sometimes it’s a lot of guilt comes over me. When a parent loses a child you still wonder, what could I have done so that wouldn’t have happened?

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Ian Alexander Jr. and Regina King attending the 2019 LACMA Art + Film Gala Presented By Gucci at LACMA on November 02, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Ian Alexander Jr. and Regina King attending the 2019 LACMA Art + Film Gala Presented By Gucci at LACMA on November 02, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Ian Alexander Jr. and Regina King attending the 2019 LACMA Art + Film Gala Presented By Gucci at LACMA on November 02, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. | Getty Images for LACMA

“I was so angry with God, why would that weight be given to Ian? Of all of the things that we had gone through with the therapy, psychiatrists, programmes. Ian was just like ‘I’m tired of talking Mum."

She also acknowledges that while they share their grief with others, the unique bond of being Ian's mother sets her experience apart. She said: “And I can’t say that with a smile, with tears, with all of the emotions that come with that, I can’t do that if I did not respect the journey.

“I know that I share this grief with everyone, but no one else is Ian’s mum. Only me. And so, it’s mine and the sadness will never go away. It’ll always be with me."

She also said Ian's absence will always linger, though there are moments when she still feels his presence, sometimes leading to laughter but often triggering a deep sense of loss.

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King paid tribute to Ian by wearing orange, his favourite colour at the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday. She also said she has dedicated her latest film, Shirley to her son.

Directed by John Ridley, Shirley is about a story of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress, and her historic 1972 presidential campaign. The film is set to release in select theaters on Friday and will premiere on Netflix on March 22.

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