The Oscar-nominated actress -- who also stars in HBO's The Outsider, based on King's novel of the same name -- opened up about King's remark that he "would never consider diversity in matters of art" at HBO's Television Critics Association winter press tour on Wednesday.
"I can't solve how you balance diversity with quality of work. I'd like to think I'm part of the world of diversity," she began, noting that over the past year, we've seen "a flurry of beautiful work by people who are of a diverse nature and women in general." "I think we have to open the doors and our eyes to people making that work," she added.
Erivo continued, sharing that she hopes to be someone opening doors for others. "But it's up to those people doing things a certain way to shake up their ideas, change the way they think, change the way they're casting, change the way they hire producers and directors and writers, and make sure that reflects the world that we live in," she said.
The Harriet star is one of the only acting nominees of color at this year's Oscars, alongside Antonio Banderas.
While commenting on the controversy over the nearly all-white slate for acting Oscars this year, King -- who is a voting member of the Academy -- tweeted on Tuesday, "For me, the diversity issue did not come up. That said, I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong."
As a writer, I am allowed to nominate in just 3 categories: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay. For me, the diversity issue--as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway--did not come up. That said...
His comments quickly received backlash from fans and celebs.
"When you wake up, meditate, stretch, reach for your phone to check on the world and see a tweet from someone you admire that is so backward and ignorant you want to go back to bed," Ava DuVernay wrote.
When you wake up, meditate, stretch, reach for your phone to check on the world and see a tweet from someone you admire that is so backward and ignorant you want to go back to bed. https://t.co/nPXOeAebkb
Hours later, King backtracked. "The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation," he tweeted. "Right now such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts."
"You can't win awards if you're shut out of the game," King added.
The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation. Right now such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts.
At Wednesday's TCA panel for The Outsider, Erivo shared that she hadn't read King's novel in preparation for her role as Holly Gibney, and that she preferred to fill in the blanks of her character herself.
"I feel like the character is really fully realized. I was given a gift in the character and it was written very beautifully for me," she said.
"I read the script and I couldn’t stop thinking about her because she was completely new and she was foreign to me," Erivo continued. "I like a challenge, I like to see women who are complex and different and which you ordinarily don’t get to see very often, and Holly is that."