It’s time you meet your new favorite actress, How To Get Away with Murder star Aja Naomi King. You’ll get along great because she loves Shonda Rhimes, Beyoncé, and Empire‘s Cookie Lyon as much as you do.
VH1 caught up with the up-and-coming star, who dished on the behind-the-scenes action of Murder (Shonda!) and how she feels about diversity being at the forefront of TV’s current lineup. Did we mention she supports Fifty Shades of Grey? Yes, she rocks.
How are you feeling about season 1 coming to an end?
It’s kind of sad, we’ve had so much fun shooting it and spending all this time together. I don’t want it to end, I enjoy people watching it and telling me what they think about it.
What has been your favorite scene to shoot so far?
Before it was the woods scene because it was super intense but my favorite hasn’t aired yet, it’s in the finale.
So we’ll know it when we see it?
I hope so, if I did my job right!
If you could play any other character, who would it be?
Annalise. Who doesn’t want to play her? She’s so tense and so raw. Or Rebecca, because I’ve never played someone so dark with so much hidden. [She’s really] twisted and that’s her constant world.
Do you have any TV guilty pleasures of your own?
I think it’s well-known that I love all things ABC and Shonda Rhimes — I’m a huge Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy fan. Outside our network, I love Game of Thrones. Crazy enough, I’ve been catching up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. That show is really funny! They DO that show, they’re so good! The whole cast is so good and extremely diverse. Terry Crews and Andre Braugher are amazing on this show. Those writers are phenomenal.
Are you an Empire fan?
What do you think of season one?
The things that are done and said, I’m like, “Is this network television?!” You can’t look away! The music is so good and I am so blown away by the songs they do. I’m like, “Where did all this talent come from?” And the storyline is so good, you’re literally on the edge of your seat, like “What is going on? When is he gonna get caught for what he did?” And that one son of hers — if he disrespects her one more time!
Who’s your favorite character?
Cookie, of course.
All these new shows with primarily African-American casts — Murder, Empire, and black-ish — are doing so well. Do you feel like this was long overdue?
You know the crazy thing is, it’s a return to something that was already happening in the late ’80s, early ’90s. Queen Latifah had a show, Martin Lawrence had a show, there was Girlfriends with Tracee Ellis Ross, French Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters. Why is this so “ingenious” right now to have this super diverse cast, when all these shows were huge? They had huge fan bases, they were comedic, dramatic, they hit all the right notes, and it’s like people are remembering these were super successful, and saying, “Let’s do that again.”
Why do you think these types of show resonate with so many people?
Because people feed themselves these characters. There’s a reflection of yourself in what you’re watching so [that] you relate to it more strongly. Not to say there’s not good TV out there, but I think TV is better when it accurately reflects the world as it is. And yes, the world may be a little more melodramatic or a little more comedic, there are things about it that kind of tug at your humanity and your like, “Oh, I know this, this is familiar to me, I’ve experienced this.” And when you see that in all different colors, sexes, and sizes, you’re like, “Oh, that’s me being reflected back at me.”
What else do you think we need to be seeing more on TV?
Everything! TV is such a great medium in what it can do in terms of enlightening an audience. We can really inspire and teach people about other people. That’s a powerful tool and that’s something that the arts has always been capable of doing. Back when people couldn’t read, other people would take newspapers and turn them into theater, so that people would know what was going on in the world. That is a powerful thing.