Joey King knows she’s young, and The Kissing Booth star is in no rush to hurry her career along. At just 21 years old, King has had quite the fruitful career — from starring alongside her longtime role model Julianne Moore in Crazy, Stupid, Love at age 10 to receiving an Emmy nomination for her phenomenal portrayal of Gipsy Rose Blanchard in The Act to now working alongside the “Mr. Bradley Pitt,” as she puts it, and Lady Gaga in the upcoming film Bullet Train.
Success of a much older person aside, King is happy to continue playing young onscreen. “One thing that I don’t want to do is age myself up too quickly,” she tells InStyle editor in chief Laura Brown on this week’s episode of Ladies First with Laura Brown. “I know I look young. I know I am young. And one thing that I’ve seen a lot of young actresses do, who I love and admire, is they try to, after they hit notoriety and a little bit of zeitgeist, full-throttle themselves into the most mature role that they can find. And that’s just not my desire, because my ambition is to be in this industry for a very, very long time.”
Aside from sticking around for years to come, King has some very lofty goals in the entertainment industry, but she’s not holding herself to them too tightly. “The ultimate obvious goal that everyone is going to say — and obviously I’m not going to sit here and pretend like it’s not something I’ve dreamed of — is to win an Academy award,” she explains to Brown. “But I don’t want to say that that’s my goal, because unless I reach that, I’ll never be happy, right?”
Instead, she’s focusing on her own personal growth in her career, not what other people think of her. She opened up about a particular red carpet photo that received negative comments shaming her appearance. While many would allow these mean comments to bring down their confidence and change their perception of themselves — and like many young people in front of the camera, King does say she has struggled with body image issues — the actress simply brushed them off this time.
“I was like, you know what, I could easily look at that photo now and be like, I hate that picture, but I am not going to sit here and admit that because I would be lying to myself. I still like that photo. There’s plenty that I don’t like. Plenty. But it is interesting how five seconds of your life can completely change the narrative around you, the way you feel about yourself, the way others feel about you. It’s really interesting.”
Bullet Train is currently filming, and King gets to work alongside some incredible names including Brad Pitt, Brian Tyree Henry, Logan Lerman, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Lady Gaga. But while she says she’s grateful to be working right now, it does feels a bit different to be on-set during COVID.
“The feeling of being on a set, the feeling of meeting all those new people, hugging on them, loving them, and just creating this family — it’s not there,” she says. “And we have to stay in our pods and I can’t interact with people that I want. I want to meet everybody. I want to know everyone’s name, but I can’t leave my pod.” Brown reads between the lines and interjects “you want to hug Brad Pitt,” and with a laugh, King agrees: “I want to hug Brad Pitt.”
And honestly, Joey? Same.