Joey King has nothing but love for her Ramona and Beezus co-star, Selena Gomez.
In the decade since the family film was released in 2010, the 19-year-old King has gone from child actress to rising young star. Establishing herself with eclectic roles in both film and TV, from Fargo to The Kissing Booth, King still credits the G-rated feel-good movie (and Gomez) for helping her find her path.
“From the time we worked together until now, I’ve always really looked up to her,” King told ET at Hulu’s Television Critics Association winter press tour on Monday while promoting her new series, The Act. “I’m really proud of everything she’s done.”
King confessed that she hasn’t seen Gomez “in a really long time.” “But I think that everything she’s been doing lately with speaking out about mental health, I think it’s so beautiful and inspiring,” she said.
“She just shows everyone every day that no matter what your Instagram follower count says, no matter how much you may or may not edit your pictures, no matter how many photo shoots you do, no matter what your life is like, it’s OK to not be OK,” King explained. “I really love that she puts it out there for everyone to see. It’s very vulnerable for her. She’s a big inspiration to people, whether she realizes it or not.”
King has become a source of inspiration for young fans in her own right, gaining millions of new followers after the release of her Netflix film, The Kissing Booth, last year. Still, she can’t believe how far she’s come since Ramona and Beezus.
“I’m so appreciative of that film and everything it did for me,” she said of the movie, marveling at how people still recognize her from a performance she gave when she was just nine years old. “But I’m so excited now, for people to see me go from something like that to all the things I’ve had in between, to Kissing Booth, to now [The Act].”
The actress stars as Gypsy Rose Blanchard in the upcoming true crime series, which is based on the real-life case of a girl who helped kill her own mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, after years of Dee Dee convincing her daughter that she suffered from leukemia, asthma, muscular dystrophy and several other chronic conditions.
“This is truly something,” she said of The Act, in which she stars alongside Patricia Arquette. “I love comedy, I love action, I love all these different genres, but my heart really does lie with drama, and I feel my most confident and comfortable in drama.”
“I feel like I love diving into characters that have a lot of complexities that need exploring and need cracking open,” King added. “I want to crack them open.”
The Act will debut on Hulu on Wednesday, March 20 with two episodes. Subsequent episodes will be released every Wednesday.
Joey King is just excited for a possible Kissing Booth sequel as the rest of us.
Fans fell in love with the Netflix film when it was released last May, but so far, there’s been no word of a follow-up movie.
“I want to know too! I can’t really say anything, because I don’t know yet,” King told ET on Monday while promoting her new series, The Act, at Hulu’s Television Critics Association winter press tour. “I know I would love to be part of something like that, but you know, my fingers are crossed.”
2018 was a big year for Netflix rom-coms, withTo All the Boys I’ve Loved Before(starring Lana Condor and Noah Centineo) earning a sequel order from the streaming service in December. The Kissing Booth, also based on a YA novel, doesn’t have sequel books on which to base additional movies. However, the movie left its story open-ended; Elle (King) could either follow Noah (Jacob Elordi) to Boston, or look for love back home in her final year of high school.
Viewers couldn’t get enough of The Kissing Booth — it was Netflix’s most rewatched movie of 2018– or its stars, King and Elordi. The pair earned millions of followers on social media, with fans begging to know more about the movie and their real-life romance. Rumors sparked around the new year that King and Elordi had split, and as the actress told ET on Monday, it’s “really weird” to all of the sudden feel pressure to address her dating life.
“It’s bizarre that people are intrigued about an aspect of my life that’s something that you usually only talk about with family,” said King, who started acting when she was just four years old. “I’ve kind of learned to not let it bother me so much, because when people ask those questions, it becomes overwhelming and you’re like, ‘I just want to experience what I’m experiencing privately, because whether it’s hard for me or not, I just want that respect and space.’”
“But I also realized, these people invested themselves in a performance of mine, and it really touched them, and now they really want to know what I’m up to, personally,” she expressed. “I’ve learned, and this comes with accepting self-happiness, to just be flattered by it — because what my fans and what my supporters say and do for me on the flip side of that, on not asking me who I’m dating and what I’m doing, I think it’s so special.”
The actress continued to praise her fans for supporting her through it all — including her newest project, The Act, which couldn’t be more tonally different from The Kissing Booth. The Hulu series tells the real-life story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, a woman who helped kill her own mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, after years of Dee Dee convincing her daughter that she suffered from leukemia, asthma, muscular dystrophy and several other chronic conditions.
“The way they make me feel, and I’m so appreciative of them. They make me feel so good. Knowing that when I put the teaser trailer [for The Act] on my Instagram, and seeing what they’re all saying and seeing them repost it, like, my heart really does fill up with a lot of joy, because I think it’s so special that these people really care about my career,” she gushed. “Because I care about my career and I care about them too!”
The Act will debut on Hulu on Wednesday, March 20 with two episodes. Subsequent episodes will be released every Wednesday.
Joey King’s remarkable acting résumé can be intimidating. But sit in the same room with her and she’ll make you feel right at home. The bubbly young performer has been working nonstop since her first television role, a guest spot on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Since then, she has appeared in the music video for Taylor Swift’s song “Mean,” nabbed guest spots on shows such as Fargo and The Flash, and charmed legions of new fans after starring in Netflix’s runaway hit The Kissing Booth.
Recently, Joey has been busy with her transformative role on Hulu’s The Act, a crime anthology based on the real-life story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Joey plays Gypsy, a young woman who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder after her mother was found stabbed to death in 2015; Gypsy is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence. Her mother, Dee Dee (played by Patricia Arquette), suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy and had allegedly been abusing her daughter by making her sick for years to win sympathy and attention. (Gypsy’s boyfriend at the time was later convicted of first-degree murder.) Joey is almost unrecognizable as Gypsy, having shaved her head and donned large, wide-framed glasses for the part.
Along with her work on the much-anticipated series, Joey has also been working on The InBetween, a supernatural romance recently picked up by Paramount Players that she’ll be starring in and producing. There’s hardly anything Joey isn’t already a queen at. As part of Teen Vogue’s Young Hollywood Class of 2019, she opened up about doing Gypsy’s story justice, becoming increasingly passionate about politics, and more.
Teen Vogue: As a representative of young Hollywood, what parts of you as performer do you hope to see more of in Hollywood in general?
Joey King: I’m a big people person. I love getting to know people before making any judgments, getting to know their story. I find that when I work a lot on sets, I meet the most interesting people. Not just people who are producers, directors, or cast. The crew is such a vital part of making anything happen, and so really getting to know those people and respecting those people is a huge thing that I want to see more. I want to see people respecting others around them, because we all have a job to do, and each job is just as important as the next one.
TV: So far, what has been the biggest challenge to proving yourself in Hollywood? JK: I just really want to show people that what I do is so important to me, no matter what kind of role it is. I want to show people that I can do any kind of role. That I can take on anything and really just go at it 110%. The biggest challenge in proving myself is being able to obtain those roles and certain characters that really get to show the range that I have and want to show.
TV: Your social media following majorly increased after The Kissing Booth. What have you learned about having a huge platform of more than 8 million Instagram followers?
JK: I really feel very lucky to be able to have a voice that people care about hearing, but it is a lot of responsibility, you know? I want to set a good example for people, but at the same time I just want to show them a good time, so I try to do a little bit of both. Mostly I just try to be myself, and as cliché and stupid as it sounds, I feel like that’s the most important thing, because I want people to be themselves in real life or on their Instagram platforms or wherever.
Something that I just love to do is just never take anything too seriously. Sometimes I post just the stupidest pictures of myself with a face mask, this close up, or I call myself an egghead since I have no hair. I also think just not being afraid. Because so much of the time, you get mean comments from people. And that sh*t just rolls off my back. I don’t even notice them anymore. And so I post whatever the hell I wanna post.
TV: What’s an example of something that you have spoken out about that was maybe dealing with a heavier topic?
JK: Because I’m now 19, I’ve gotten a lot more into politics than I had been before. That’s because I was not yet of age and I found it really hard to educate myself on politics. I even had a hard time figuring out how to register to vote. And that’s OK to be able to say that it’s confusing to figure out. And it’s confusing and hard to figure out what issues you need to know about. So this year, I really dove into that and tried to educate myself as best as possible. Lately, I’ve been speaking out about human trafficking, the importance of voting, and I went on a march recently [while] shooting in Savannah, Georgia. My costar AnnaSophia Robb [and I] went on a march to end human trafficking. It was just so inspirational to see all the people that came out to do that. When you have a platform like mine, and I’m lucky enough to have a vast amount of followers, I think I’m really proud to be able to say something that means something to me.
TV: The public is always scrutinizing, especially young women’s images. So how does it feel having shaved your head three times now? What have you learned about beauty and identity through the process of letting all your hair go?
JK: When I first shaved my head, when I was 11, I was so excited to do it. And then I got so sad because people were so mean about it online, and it just got so disheartening. Then the second time I did it, when I was 14, I was like, “Screw it. I learned from last time. I’m not gonna let anyone bother me.” And then it kind of happened again. I got a little sad because people were so mean about it. They were saying just awful things on Instagram. And then I had this awakening. I was like, “Why am I caring? I’m 14 years old. I have no hair. I look really freaking cool. And guess what? It’s gonna grow back.” So when this time came around for a role, I was ready to jump all in. And I can say that I haven’t felt more feminine in such a long time. I feel so feminine with my head shaved. I feel great, and I feel pretty, and I feel confident, and it takes me not even five minutes to shower anymore [laughing]. It’s so freaking nice.
TV: With The Act, you’re telling the story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, which is really dark. What have you done to make sure you’re doing her story justice, as opposed to kind of sensationalizing it?
JK: It’s something that I’m actually quite aware of. I just want to make sure that if she ever sees the show one day, I want her to know that we wanted to do right by her. The story is so messed up and there are so many layers, and it’s so, so heavy. I never want it to feel like we’re making fun of the story or we’re doing anything to romanticize it. It’s nitty-gritty; it’s really disturbing. And it’s uncomfortable because the story is really uncomfortable. What happened is so uncomfortable. And I’m really hyperaware of just trying to dive into Gypsy’s role as much as I can. I feel really proud of the work I’m doing.
With that being said, of course, I’m an actor, I’m very nervous about it, and I just want people to love it. And be immersed in the story, as immersed in the story as I am. So I’m hoping that the reaction to it is really cool because we put so much work into it, especially me and Patricia [Arquette]. Our relationship off-camera now has become so intense. We care about each other so much because we go through so much together onscreen. And Calum Worthy, who plays Nicholas Godejohn, is so phenomenal. I think all of us are trying our hardest to make sure we do right by these people.