Aja Naomi King

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Aja Naomi King
Aja Naomi King - DSC 0089.jpg
King in December 2014
Born (1985-01-11) January 11, 1985 (age 36)
EducationUniversity of California, Santa Barbara (BFA)
Yale University (MFA)
Years active2010–present

Aja Naomi King (born January 11, 1985)[1] is an American actress best known for her role as Michaela Pratt in How to Get Away with Murder. She began her career in guest-starring roles on television, and starred as Cassandra Kopelson in The CW medical comedy-drama Emily Owens, M.D.

In 2014, King began starring as Michaela Pratt in the ABC legal drama series How to Get Away with Murder, for which she received an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series nomination in 2015. She also has starred in the films Four (2012) and Reversion (2015). In 2016, she portrayed Cherry Turner in the historical film The Birth of a Nation (2016) and the following year appeared in the comedy-drama The Upside (2017).

Early life[edit]

King was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Walnut, California.[2] She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Master of Fine Arts from Yale University's School of Drama in 2010.[3][4] At Yale University, King performed in a number of productions, including A Midsummer Night's Dream, Little Shop of Horrors, and Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes.[4]



King appeared in several short films in the early period of her career. She made her television debut in 2010, as a guest star in the CBS police procedural Blue Bloods, and later appeared on Person of Interest, The Blacklist, and Deadbeat. She made her feature film debut in the 2011 independent film Damsels in Distress, as a minor character. Her big break came in 2012, when she was cast as new surgical intern Cassandra Kopelson and the series' primary antagonist, on the CW medical comedy-drama series Emily Owens, M.D.[5] The series was canceled after a single season in 2013. She later starred in the Amazon Studios comedy pilot The Onion Presents: The News.[6]

In 2013, King co-starred in two independent films. She played Abigayle, the daughter of Wendell Pierce's character, in the independent drama Four, released on September 13, 2013.[7] Along with her castmates, she won a Los Angeles Film Festival Award for Best Performance by Cast for her role in this movie.[8] She also appeared alongside Laverne Cox and Britne Oldford in the film 36 Saints.[9] In 2014, she had supporting role in the romantic comedy The Rewrite, starring Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei. The film was shot in 2013 but was released theatrically in the United States in 2015.[10]

2014–present: Breakthrough[edit]

King in August 2014

In early 2014, King had a recurring role as Ali Henslee in the ABC medical drama series Black Box, starring Kelly Reilly. The series was canceled after a single season. In February 2014, she was cast as one of the main characters in the ABC legal thriller How to Get Away with Murder, produced by Shonda Rhimes.[11] The series stars Viola Davis as a law professor Annalise Keating. King plays the role of Michaela Pratt, one of the five lead students, alongside Alfred Enoch, Jack Falahee, Matt McGorry, and Karla Souza. The series premiered on September 25, 2014 with generally positive reviews from critics, and 14 million viewers.[12] King received her first NAACP Image Award nomination for her performance in series.[13]

In 2015, King had her first the leading role in the science-fiction thriller Reversion. The film had limited theatrical release on October 9, 2015.[14][15] Also in 2015, she was cast as the female lead in the historical drama film The Birth of a Nation, based on the story of the 1831 slave rebellion led by Nat Turner. The film also stars Nate Parker, Aunjanue Ellis, Gabrielle Union, and Armie Hammer.[16] She played Nat Turner's wife, Cherry. The film premiered in competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2016, and received positive reviews from critics.[17] King's performance was also well received. Variety placed her in their list of one of the "Biggest Breakthrough Performances" at Sundance, writing that "King transforms herself from contemporary glamour girl to 19th-century slave in Nate Parker's festival smash. A harrowing scene late in the film opposite Parker as Nat Turner reveals a depth and range King has never been asked to deliver in her small screen work, and a potential new star is born."[18] King has also been shortlisted as a possible contender for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress[19] but did not receive a nomination. She received a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture nomination for her role.[20] She received the "Rising Star Award" at the 10th annual Essence Black Women In Hollywood event in February 2017.[21]

In 2017, King appeared opposite Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston, and Nicole Kidman in The Upside, a remake of the 2011 French film The Intouchables.[22] Later that year, she was cast in the leading role of Somali activist Ifrah Ahmed in the biopic A Girl from Mogadishu.[23][24] In 2020, she appeared in the drama film Sylvie's Love, opposite Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha.[25] King later played a female leading role in the historical drama film The 24th about Houston riot of 1917 directed by Kevin Willmott.[26][27] King will next star opposite Michael Shannon in Shriver.[28]

Personal life[edit]

In March 2021, she announced that she was pregnant after previously experiencing two miscarriages. On June 6, 2021, she announced that she had given birth to a son, Kian. Dan King is the father.

Public image[edit]

King was the face of skincare line Olay's fall 2015 advertising campaign.[29] She became a spokesperson for L'Oreal Paris in 2017.[30][31] King has graced the covers of numerous magazines, including Vanity Fair,[32] Elle, Marie Claire, Nylon,[33] Glamour, Essence,[34] Entertainment Weekly[35] and Shape.[36]



Year Title Role Notes
2008 Gloria Mundi Dancer Short film
2010 A Basketball Jones Sara Walker Short film
Eve Celebrity Short film
2011 Damsels in Distress Positive Polly
2012 Love Synchs Selene Short film
2013 36 Saints Joan
Four Abigayle Los Angeles Film Festival Award for Best Performance by an Ensemble
2014 The Rewrite Rosa Tejeda
2015 Reversion Sophie Clé
2016 The Birth of a Nation Cherry Turner Nominated – NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Nominated — Black Reel Award for Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Female
2017 The Upside Latrice
2019 A Girl from Mogadishu Ifrah Ahmed
2020 Sylvie's Love Mona
2020 The 24th Marie
TBA Shriver Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2010 Blue Bloods Denise Episode: "Samaritan"
2012 Person of Interest Lisa Episode: "Wolf and Cub "
2012–13 Emily Owens, M.D. Cassandra Kopelson Main Cast; 13 episodes
2013 The Blacklist Elysa Ruben Episode: "Frederick Barnes"
2014 Deadbeat N'Cole Episode: "Out-Of-Body Issues"
Black Box Ali Henslee 8 episodes
2014–2020 How to Get Away with Murder Michaela Pratt Main Cast; 90 episodes
Nominated – NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
2015 BoJack Horseman BoJack's date (voice) Episode: "Yesterdayland"
2018 Scandal Michaela Pratt Episode: "Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself"
2019 A Black Lady Sketch Show Recluse Episode:"Your Boss Knows You Don't Have Eyebrows"


  1. ^ "UPI Almanac for Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020". United Press International. January 11, 2020. Archived from the original on January 12, 2020. Retrieved February 3, 2020. …actor Aja Naomi King in 1985 (age 35)
  2. ^ "Want to Know More About the Cast of How to Get Away With Murder? We Have the Info!". Glamour. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  3. ^ Sperling, Nicole (2017). "Birth of a Nation's Breakout Star". Time. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "'Aja Naomi King: Biography". TV Guide. Retrieved July 21, 2013.
  5. ^ "'Emily Owens M.D.:Aja Naomi King Interview". The CW Network. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  6. ^ "'Aja Naomi King Joins Cast Of Amazon Studios Comedy Pilot 'The Onion Presents: The News". IndieWire. Archived from the original on February 2, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  7. ^ "'Interview with Joshua Sanchez, "Four"". Film Society of Lincoln Center. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  8. ^ "Winners Announced for 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival". Film Independent. June 24, 2013. Archived from the original on September 7, 2015. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  9. ^ "Film Review: '36 Saints'". Variety. September 9, 2014. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
  10. ^ Shamsian, Jacob. "Binghamton-set movie 'The Rewrite' to screen on campus with star Hugh Grant and director Marc Lawrence". Pipe Dream. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  11. ^ Andreeva, Nellie. "Aja Naomi King Cast In ABC Pilot 'Murder'; Arden Myrin in NBC's 'Bad Judge'". Deadline.com. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  12. ^ O'Connell, Michael (September 26, 2014). "TV Ratings: 'How to Get Away With Murder' Tops ABC's Winning Shonda Rhimes Block". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
  13. ^ "'Get On Up,' 'Selma,' 'Dear White People' Score NAACP Image Award Nominations (Full List)". Variety. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
  14. ^ Obenson, Tambay A. (September 14, 2015). "Pics: Aja Naomi King Headlines Sci-fi Thriller 'Reversion'". IndieWire. Archived from the original on September 19, 2015. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  15. ^ Obenson, Tambay A. (September 18, 2015). "EXCLUSIVE Trailer & Poster: Aja Naomi King Headlines Sci-fi Thriller 'Reversion' (Opens Oct. 9)". IndieWire. Archived from the original on October 26, 2015. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  16. ^ McNary, Dave. "Aja Naomi King Joins Armie Hammer in Nat Turner Movie". Variety. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  17. ^ "The Birth of a Nation". Rotten Tomatoes. January 26, 2016. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  18. ^ "Sundance Film Festival 2016: 19 Biggest Breakout Stars". Variety. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  19. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin. "Oscars 2017: How Sundance Launched 'The Birth of a Nation,' 'Weiner'". Variety. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  20. ^ Hipes, Patrick (December 13, 2016). "NAACP Image Awards: Nate Parker & Donald Glover Lead Film & TV Noms; Beyonce Tops Field". Retrieved February 7, 2017.
  21. ^ "Aja Naomi King". IMDb. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
  22. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (February 6, 2017). "'How To Get Away With Murder's Aja Naomi King Is 'Untouchable'". Retrieved February 7, 2017.
  23. ^ McNary, Dave (October 25, 2017). "'How to Get Away With Murder's' Aja Naomi King to Star in 'A Girl From Mogadishu'". Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  24. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (October 25, 2017). "'A Girl From Mogadishu': Aja Naomi King Leads Female Empowerment Story – AFM". Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  25. ^ Galuppo, Mia (March 7, 2019). "Aja Naomi King Joins Tessa Thompson in 'Sylvie'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  26. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (June 4, 2019). "'BlackKklansman' Co-Writer Kevin Willmott Gets Underway Directing 'The 24th', Drama On 1917 Houston Riot And Aftermath".
  27. ^ "'The 24th': Trai Byers And Aja Naomi King To Star In Film On All-Black Infantry Regiment And 1917 Houston Riot". shadowandact.com.
  28. ^ Galuppo, Mia (June 25, 2020). "Michael Shannon, Kate Hudson to Star in Comedy 'Shriver'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  29. ^ "Olay Campaign - Fall 2015 - elle-olay-fall-2015-campaign-0004 - Aja Naomi King Photo Gallery". ajanaomiking.net. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  30. ^ Hall, Chloe (November 30, 2017). "Exclusive: Aja Naomi King Is a New L'Oreal Paris Spokesperson". ELLE. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  31. ^ "Aja Naomi King Celebrity Spokesmodel for L'Oréal Paris". www.lorealparisusa.com. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  32. ^ "The 2017 Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue Cover Is Here". Vanity Fair. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  33. ^ "Aja Naomi King Is The GOAT". NYLON. February 4, 2019. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  34. ^ "Essence Magazine (October 2015) - essence-october-2015-002 - Aja Naomi King Photo Gallery". ajanaomiking.net. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  35. ^ Tanea (June 29, 2016). "Entertainment Weekly September 2015". Aja Naomi King Network. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  36. ^ "Aja Naomi King Magazine Cover Photos - List of magazine covers featuring Aja Naomi King - FamousFix". FamousFix.com. Retrieved August 3, 2019.

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