With more than three decades on film and television starring in critically acclaimed works and box-office hits that include Seven Seconds, Enemy of the State, Ray, American Crimeand more, King has already cemented herself as one of Hollywood’s most versatile and talented actresses.
The Los Angeles, California, native has swept through the 2019 awards season racking up accolades for her brilliant role as Sharon Rivers in If Beale Street Could Talk, a gorgeous adaption of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel, as told through the lens of Oscar-nominated director Barry Jenkins. The breakthrough role has earned King a Golden Globe award, an Independent Spirit award and a Critics Choice award to name a few, but an Oscar could be next on her mantle.
Whether in comedy or drama, the Emmy Award-winning actress showcases her aptitude for bringing unforgettable moments to life on screen through an array of uniquely complex characters. The industry will one day regard King as a Hollywood icon and while she may be too shy to take on the title just yet, she’s certainly earning the crown.
In honor of King’s Oscar nomination (and her overall greatness), ET gathered up some examples of why she's a star in her own stratosphere.
1.) She's A Seasoned Pro
At 14 years old, King snagged her first role as Brenda Jenkins on the '80s sitcom227. The weekly series, about a couple raising their daughter in a Washington D.C. apartment complex filled with entertaining neighbors, aired for five seasons featuring an all-star cast of Marla Gibbs, Helen Martin, Jackée Harry, Curtis Baldwin and Alaina Reed-Hall.
Before her big break, King studied for five years under acting coach and former actress Betty A. Bridges, mother of Different Strokes star Todd Bridges.
2.) Her First Movie Role Became A '90s Film Classic
King launched a film career after227 came to an end in 1990. She made her big screen debut in the John Singleton-directed film, Boyz n the Hood. King made a lasting impression as Shalika, in the filmstarring Morris Chestnut, Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Nia Long, Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne.
She re-teamed with Singleton for 1993’s Poetic Justice, with Janet Jackson, Guy Torry and Tupac Shakur, and again in Higher Learning in 1995. King went on to appear in more hits including How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Friday, Legally Blondeand Ms. Congeniality. King and Gooding Jr. also reunited on screen six years after Boyz n the Hood in1996'sJerry Maguire.
3.) She Manifested Her Own Destiny
King earned two Emmy Awards for her phenomenal performance on America Crime Story, the first of which she won in 2015. Ahead of the big win in 2016, King's mother (who served as her date on the red carpet) revealed to ET that King used to practice winning an Emmy when she was a little girl. In 2018, she added a third Emmy to her trophy case, this time for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series for the Netflix crime drama, Seven Seconds.
4.) She Chooses Her Roles Wisely And She's Not Afraid To Take Risks
Whether she’s playing a central or supporting character, King has a way of bringing the right amount of synergy into each scene, and she puts a lot of thought into which roles she takes on. Her Oscar-nominated role in If Beale Street Could Talk, gave King an opportunity to showcase the nuances of “black love" and the "complexities" of "being a black woman in America," as she told NPR in 2018.
“The roles that I've played over the past, I'll say, 12 years or so, from Southland to now, are — they are such different women, but they are all a product of their environment," she explained. "And that product is not simple. It is complex. I feel as I grow as a human being, my capacity to be open to receive roles that are more complex has grown as well.”
She's not just captivating in front of the camera! King is also an accomplished director helming episodes of Insecure,Southland, Being Mary Jane, Shameless, Greenleaf, Scandal The Good Doctor, This Is Usand more.
6.) She Voiced Two Characters On 'The Boondocks'
In case, you needed more proof that King is in a league of her own, look no further than The Boondocks. King voiced brothers Riley and Huey Freeman, the central character of the animated series, which debuted in 2005 and aired until 2014.
Originally, King was only supposed to voice Riley, the outspoken and impressionable younger brother of Huey, the multi-dimensional, soft-spoken older sibling. In season two, show creator Aaron McGruder gave fans a behind-the-scenes peak at King's unbelievable ability to go back and forth between characters in one scene. "She's the only one who can possibly pull that off," McGruder said.
7.) Hollywood Is Following Her Lead
During her acceptance speech at the 2019 Golden Globes, King became the first Hollywood star to commit to the Time's Up organization's "4% Challenge," which urges industry leaders to hire more women directors. Since King made her commitment, celebs such as Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Constance Wu, Tessa Thompson, Kerry Washington, Reese Witherspoon and Jordan Peele have joined the call to action.