Between school, extracurriculars, homework, jobs, and maintaining a social life, most teenagers are busy. But when you shift the priorities — say, if you’ve been a working actress since you were 4 — that adds a whole new layer to the concept of being busy. But Joey King, who is something of Zach Braff’s mini-muse, manages to juggle all of her roles so well that she even has time to take in a few shows during New York Fashion Week. The charmed life, indeed.
The actress, who got her start on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and moved onto films like The Dark Knight Rises and Stonewall, caught up with Teen Vogue during a quiet moment in her schedule — shuttling from an airport is as quiet as it will ever get for her — and talked to us about what she saw at NYFW, how she’s taking fashion risks in her own life, and why being a famous teenager isn’t that different from being a regular teen. Really.
You have a lot of projects coming up — could you tell us a little about some of them?
I have a movie coming out called Borealis, where I play a girl who is gradually going blind, and then a movie I filmed called Smartass is getting distribution right now. I play a smart-ass, and it’s a really crazy film and it’s so much fun. And right now, I’m filming a movie called Going In Style in New York and that’s directed by Zach Braff, starring Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin. This is the third time I’m working with Zach. He’s the absolute best. I love him so much. He’s such a great person. We did Oz the Great and Powerful together, and we became friends on that, and then Wish I Was Here and now this. That should be coming out early next year, and then Independence Day: Resurgence should be coming out next summer.
Can you tell us anything about Stargirl yet?
I can’t give away too much, but it’s such a great script and I really can’t wait to see what will happen with it. It’s such a beloved book, and Catherine Hardwicke is incredible, and she has such amazing visions and I love talking to her and working with her, she’s amazing.
And you’ve been doing a fair amount of activism, right?
I’ve been hanging up flyers in Los Angeles for anyone in a vulnerable situation to call 1-800-Runaway which is with DoSomething.org. 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ. And it’s such an important thing to shed light on because as much as we’ve made progress in this country, we still have a long way to go with treating LGBTQ community fairly. I’ve been doing a lot of research on organizations that really help with taking in those kids and having a place for them to go. Even little steps like that…if you’re tweeting about it, if you’re trying to do something good, you’re bringing awareness. I have more followers than the average 16 year old, so anything I can do in the small position of power that I have…anything helps.
How do you balance all of this with just being a teenager?
I feel like people ask me that a lot and… I don’t know, what I do is what I love so much and it is my being a teenager for me. I get to do so many cool things. I went to my first fashion week ever this year and it was so much fun. I went to my first fashion show, first everything, and it was incredible. These kinds of experiences to me are these experiences and memories that I’ll cherish forever. This is my reality and I love it so much.
What was New York Fashion Week like?
It was incredible. I am so taken aback and in awe of Fashion Week. I got to go to the Christian Siriano show and the Alice and Olivia presentation. And not only were the clothes beautiful but the atmosphere was so much fun and I got to meet some really cool people. I can’t wait to come back to Fashion Week, it was such an incredible experience. I love the fashion world and I’m starting to really understand and enter it, so hopefully it’ll be a way for me to expand my fashion knowledge.
How have you been applying that to your own fashion choices?
I feel like this Fashion Week, and the stuff I’ve been wearing lately… people are reacting to it and a really positive way and I’m really excited because a lot of the fashion choices I’ve been making lately are really reflecting who I am now. I have a better grip on what I want to dress like now, and I’m so excited for the things to come. Like last night, I wore a red suit and I was super excited because I was the only girl at the premiere and I didn’t want to be the only one wearing a dress, so I had to wear a suit.
What about fashion do you love in particular?
You can be whoever you want when you dress up, whether it’s what you wear on a carpet or in your everyday life. You can change your style and just be a different person. People get too caught up in like, “Oh, I have this specific style, I’m a tomboy” or “I have a ’60s-type style.” Hey, wear whatever you want. If one day you want to wear a ’50s dress, wear a ’50s dress. If the next day you feel like wearing a beanie and jeans, wear a beanie and jeans. There’s no limitations on fashion and that’s what l love about it.