Adoring Joey King

Feb 3rd, 2022
karina

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Joey King may have some growing yet to do, but at 22, the multihyphenate has a surer head on her shoulders than many of her decades-older colleagues. Whether she’s talking about maturing through the industry or developing projects under her production banner, she speaks with both a Hollywood veteran’s perspective and the OMG enthusiasm characteristic of Gen Z.

“Don’t surround yourself with the ‘yes, yes, yes’ men. The most important thing for producing, acting—anything—is to surround yourself with people who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth,” she says. “Have crazy ideas, and don’t be afraid to say them. But don’t be a dick about it.”

“Don’t be a dick about it” is as good a mantra as any for finding success in showbiz, and King is living proof. She has been acting professionally for 18 years (your math does not deceive you; she began at the ripe age of 4) after getting her start in commercials. From there, the Los Angeles native began to book steady television and film work in kids’ and adult programming alike—a title role in children’s literature staple “Ramona and Beezus” and a substantial arc on “Fargo” among them.

In 2019, she received an Emmy nomination for her work on “The Act,” Hulu’s limited series based on the true story of a mother with Munchausen syndrome by proxy who won’t stop making her daughter sick.

While “The Act” marked a turning point in how the industry perceived her, King cites Netflix’s “The Kissing Booth” franchise as the most substantial shift in her career to date—not because it was one of the streaming platform’s biggest-ever hits, but because it allowed her to explore producing for the first time.

King now has her own production company—All the King’s Horses, which is co-led by Jamie King and Dan Spilo—and a pair of unprecedented first-look deals with Netflix (as of last spring) and Hulu (as of 2020).

The slate of projects she has helped bring into reality includes an adaptation of the sci-fi novel “Uglies” for Netflix, the limited series “A Spark of Light” for Hulu, and this month’s metaphysical romance “The In Between” for Paramount+. It’s all because she decided, unequivocally, that what she has to say is valuable.

“I just had these opinions and felt a little uncomfortable giving them when no one was asking,” she says of what initially led her to producing. “Now it feels so good to be able to be like, ‘This may be a crazy thing to say, but I have the merit to say it, so let’s all just talk about it.’ ”

Though her résumé argues otherwise, King doesn’t wear her confidence on her sleeve. She’s hyper-aware of the fact that she is part of an industry that, historically, has had very little interest in listening to young women, much less granting them power. While she acknowledges that becoming a young female producer likely would not have been possible even 10 years ago, that progress doesn’t change the fact that she often finds herself confronting condescension.

Young women, she insists, shouldn’t have to prove themselves to be taken seriously, but an “I’ll show ’em all” mindset still creeps in when she is on the job. “When I’m on new projects or when I’m pitching and in all these different meetings, I’ve come across so many people who still treat me like a child, and it is so upsetting,” she admits. “The thing is, I just try to remind myself that it says more about them than it does about me.”

Ever levelheaded, King also recognizes that her past as a child actor may inspire these preconceived biases. The friction she describes is one that nearly every actor will experience at some point in their career: getting the business at large to see you outside of the box it has placed you in.

“People within the industry, when they’re addressing me and realizing that I have this role of producer now—I still feel like sometimes they think they’re addressing 15-year-old me,” she says. “My biggest struggle is trying to get people to see me.

“That’s a really tough thing to do,” she adds, “to change the industry’s mind about you.” Yet by all accounts, King has done just that. She now creates sophisticated work both in front of and behind the camera, and that is not an accident. “I’ve worked my butt off and I’ve had so much fun doing it, but I have been able to make that transition,” she says.

Full interview: backstage.com

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