Shirley Tribute: Who is Ian?

Netflix’s biographical drama film ‘Shirley’ begins with a frame that reads, “For Ian.” He is the late son of Regina King, the lead performer and one of the producers of the movie. Ian was born on January 19, 1996, to King and Ian Alexander Sr. He performed as a musician and DJ under the name Desduné. He released two singles, “Work It Out” and “Green Eyes,” in 2021 and 2022 respectively. Ian passed away on January 21, 2022, a month after the movie’s filming began.

Ian Died by Suicide

Ian Alexander Jr. died by suicide at the age of 26. He was battling depression at the time. “[…] he [Ian] was struggling so much. We knew. We knew what we were going through, but he never presented that way,” Ian’s mother Regina King told Harper’s Bazaar. “He would never not let whoever he was with feel like they were the most special person in the world. So for me, I’m like, ‘Man, he was putting a lot into things, a lot into people, a lot into this world, and yet it wasn’t translating back,’” the actress added.

A few months after Ian’s death, King rejoined the production of ‘Shirley’ to complete the movie with the help of the director John Ridley and the other crew members, her fellow co-stars, and her sister Reina King, one of the producers of the film who also plays Shirley’s sister Muriel. “I know Ian would have felt like if I didn’t finish something because of a choice that he needed to make, then I wasn’t honoring him. We all landed at the finish line on Ian’s wings. He guided us there,” the actress added about completing the film.

King continues to deal with the grief of losing Ian. “Grief is a journey, you know. I understand that grief is love that has no place to go. I know that 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 and the joy and happiness that he gave all of us,” the actress said while appearing on ‘Good Morning America.’ “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… 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 added.

King remembered Ian on his birthday on January 19. “As we still process his physical absence, we celebrate his presence. We are all in different places on the planet… so is Ian. His spirit is the thread that connects us. […] I see you in everything I breathe. My absolute favorite thing about myself is being… Regina the mother of Ian the GodKing. Continue to shine bright, my guiding light,” she shared.

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