Aja Naomi King, actress, How to Get Away With Murder
“I was afraid of the darkness of my skin. I believed I had to be celebrated for my intelligence and my sense of humor. Those could be the beautiful things about me since my skin couldn’t. I remember in junior high having a beach day with my family and going to school the next day. Someone in my class exclaimed shock at my appearance. She didn’t know black people could tan. The look on her face stuck with me. For years, I wanted to avoid direct sunlight. The comments you hear as a child stick with you. [I was] afraid of photos in dark rooms because you know no one will be able to see you in the picture and [people] will make fun of you. [I feared] walking into a room that has a black wall and hearing someone remark about how you’ve disappeared. You try to avoid these situations so you’re not in a position to act like you don’t care or [you] make fun of the darkness of your skin before someone else does so that maybe it will sting less. It has been a process of self-love to embrace the beauty of every single drop that makes up the richness that is my beautiful brown skin. If you learn anything in life, learn to love yourself. There is no amount of makeup or skin-care products that will make you love yourself.”
Aja was at The International Women’s Media Foundation 2016 Courage in Journalism Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills on Thursday, October 20th. She made headlines when she blasted Donald Trump for his “Nasty Woman” comment he made toward Hillary Clinton during the final presidential debate this week. I’ve got pictures and a few quotes from her speech below!
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