Aja Naomi King
|Aja Naomi King|
King in December 2014
January 11, 1985 |
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||Yale University
UC Santa Barbara
Aja Naomi King (born January 11, 1985) is an American actress. She began her career in guest-starring roles on television, and starred as Cassandra Kopelson in the short-lived 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 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.
King was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Walnut, California. 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. 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.
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. The series was canceled after a single season in 2013. She later starred in the Amazon Studios comedy pilot The Onion Presents: The News.
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. Along with her castmates, she won a Los Angeles Film Festival Award for Best Performance by Cast for her role in this movie. She also appeared alongside Laverne Cox and Britne Oldford in the 36 Saints. 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.
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 cancelled after a single season. In February 2014, she was cast as one of the lead characters in the ABC legal thriller How to Get Away with Murder, produced by Shonda Rhimes. 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 Jack Falahee, Alfred Enoch, Matt McGorry, and Karla Souza. The series premiered on September 25, 2014 with generally positive reviews from critics and 14 million viewers. King received her first NAACP Image Award nomination for her performance in series.
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. 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. 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. 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." King has also been shortlisted as a possible contender for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress but did not receive a nomination. She received a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture nomination for her role.
|2008||Gloria Mundi||Dancer||Short film|
|2010||A Basketball Jones||Sara Walker||Short film|
|2011||Damsels in Distress||Positive Polly|
|2012||Love Synchs||Selene||Short film|
|2013||Four||Abigayle||Los Angeles Film Festival Award for Best Performance by an Ensemble|
|2014||The Rewrite||Rosa Tejeda|
|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
|2010||Blue Bloods||Denise||Episode: "Samaritan"|
|2012||Person of Interest||Lisa||Episode: "Wolf and Cub"|
|2012–2013||Emily Owens, M.D.||Cassandra Kopelson||Series regular, 13 episodes|
|2013||The Blacklist||Elysa Ruben||Episode: "Frederick Barnes"|
|2014||Deadbeat||N'Cole||Episode: "Out-Of-Body Issues"|
|2014||Black Box||Ali Henslee||8 episodes|
|2014–present||How to Get Away with Murder||Michaela Pratt||Series regular
Nominated – NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2015)
- "'Aja Naomi King: Biography". Los Angeles Film Festival. Retrieved July 21, 2013.
- "Want to Know More About the Cast of How to Get Away With Murder? We Have the Info!". Glamour. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
- "'Emily Owens M.D.:Aja Naomi King Interview". The CW Network. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
- "'Aja Naomi King Joins Cast Of Amazon Studios Comedy Pilot 'The Onion Presents: The News". IndieWire. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
- "'Interview with Joshua Sanchez, "Four"". Film Society of Lincoln Center. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
- "Winners Announced for 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival". Film Independent. June 24, 2013. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
- "Film Review: '36 Saints'". Variety. September 9, 2014. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
- 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.
- Andreeva, Nellie. "Aja Naomi King Cast In ABC Pilot 'Murder'; Arden Myrin in NBC's 'Bad Judge'". Deadline.com. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
- 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.
- "'Get On Up,' 'Selma,' 'Dear White People' Score NAACP Image Award Nominations (Full List)". Variety. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- Obenson, Tambay A. (September 14, 2015). "Pics: Aja Naomi King Headlines Sci-fi Thriller 'Reversion'". IndieWire. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
- Obenson, Tambay A. (September 18, 2015). "EXCLUSIVE Trailer & Poster: Aja Naomi King Headlines Sci-fi Thriller 'Reversion' (Opens Oct. 9)". IndieWire. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
- McNary, Dave. "Aja Naomi King Joins Armie Hammer in Nat Turner Movie". Variety. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
- "The Birth of a Nation". Rotten Tomatoes. January 26, 2016. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
- "Sundance Film Festival 2016: 19 Biggest Breakout Stars". Variety. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
- Setoodeh, Ramin. "Oscars 2017: How Sundance Launched 'The Birth of a Nation,' 'Weiner'". Variety. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
- Hipes, Patrick (December 13, 2016). "NAACP Image Awards: Nate Parker & Donald Glover Lead Film & TV Noms; Beyonce Tops Field". Retrieved February 7, 2017.
- N'Duka, Amanda (February 6, 2017). "‘How To Get Away With Murder’s Aja Naomi King Is ‘Untouchable’". Retrieved February 7, 2017.