Aja is featured in an interview with her friend and fellow actress Kelly McCreary on the new Shondaland.com! In the interview, they discuss their friendship and the entertainment industry.
Actors Kelly McCreary and Aja Naomi King met in an airport in 2012. They were both boarding a plane to Vancouver to shoot the pilot for “Emily Owens M.D.,” a drama about doctors in which they would eventually co-star. The show was short-lived, but their friendship was not — the two have remained close, navigating Hollywood’s strange landscape, celebrating each other’s successes, and always having each other’s backs. On the eve of the season premieres of their Shondaland shows (King plays Michaela Pratt on “How to Get Away With Murder” and McCreary plays Maggie Pierce on “Grey’s Anatomy”), they talked business, inclusion, competition, TV — and how they maintain their inspiring friendship through it all.
KM: So, we’ve known each other since before we both arrived in Shondaland.
ANK: Yes, we got on a plane together to fly to Vancouver to shoot that pilot [for “Emily Owens M.D.”], and we got to sit beside each other [and] we talked the whole way there. I even think I told you then — because you were cast before I was and I still had to test for [the show] — when I saw you were cast, I immediately thought, “Oh, well they picked their black girl. They’re not going to cast me now.” So, when I also got the job, I was just like, “Whoa.” It felt so groundbreaking and amazing.
Aja also posted another photo from the same shoot to her Twitter. The Women In Hollywood issue hasn’t been released to stores yet, but when it comes out I’ll have scans to share. UPDATE: I’ve added the scans below! Congrats, Aja!
Here is the photo and write-up from the feature. Congrats Aja!
The L.A. native has had quite a year. First, she starred opposite first-time feature director Nate Parker and Armie Hammer in Fox Searchlight’s new release, “The Birth of a Nation,” which won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. Playing Cherry, a desperate slave and Nat Turner’s wife, “was quite a stretch,” King admits of her harrowing role. “At first I really tried to embody all her strength and power, but then I realized that what was so beautiful about her are those moments of vulnerability, and her lightness and love, and the sweetness and simplicity of that, because it’s such a dark story. Typically [in slave dramas] you only see the pain and turmoil and tragedy — you never get to see the full scope of their humanity.”
And now she’s back on the set as law student Michaela Pratt in the award-winning hit ABC drama “How to Get Away With Murder,” which returned last month for its third season. “It couldn’t be more different from ‘Nation,’” says King, who received a supporting actress in a drama series nomination at the 2015 NAACP Image Awards for her performance in the series. “It’s Shondaland, completely insane and it’s going to be quite a twisty ride, full of huge surprises,” she promises of the new season. “And I love playing Michaela. She’s so much fun and there’s this arrogance to her that I really appreciate. She’s just so fully in love with herself, never apologizes for it, and it’s something we should all embrace a little.” Ironically King, whose credits include the sc-fi thriller “Reversion,” Whit Stillman’s “Damsels in Distress,” and such TV shows as ABC’s “Black Box” and CW’s “Emily Owens M.D.”, always wanted to be a doctor. “But then I played one on TV, so it kind of all worked out.” — Iain Blair
Angela Bassett, Viola Davis, Kate Winslet
Aja took this lovely photo for a NY Times feature in 2014. In it, she discussed landing the role of Michaela Pratt on How To Get Away With Murder.
Growing up, you wanted to become a doctor. Why the change of heart?
When I was younger, my mother tried to get me an agent because I was always singing and dancing, but whenever she took me to an audition, I would just shut down. By high school, I was telling everyone, “Oh, I’m going to be a doctor when I grow up,” because my dad was always saying to me, “Pick a career path where you’re always going to be necessary.” But by junior year, I was president of choir, I was the lead in the school play, and I just loved being onstage performing. I literally had a breakdown because I’m not big on denying myself the things that I want, and I knew I was going to do it anyway. So it was coming to terms with the fact that my life was never going to be stable. I’d never know where the next job was coming.