When I reach Joey King on the phone from her home in Los Angeles one afternoon in May, she’s busy at work, building a diorama of a miniature library complete with hundreds of carefully crafted tiny antique books.
The meticulous, charming scene is her contribution to an art club started by her The Act co-star and close friend, actress Patricia Arquette, as a means to creatively pass the time during lockdown. “I’m so excited about it!” she tells me.
Dress by Iris van Herpen; earrings by Tako Mekvabidze.
Lockdown is the first time that King has slowed down since she began acting as a child, first gaining recognition for her appearance in Ramona and Beezus alongside Selena Gomez in 2010. She can’t help but keep herself busy, though, whether it’s with cooking, crafting, playing virtual party games with friends, or caring for a litter of adorable pups: a chihuahua, the yorkie (pictured in the shoot accompanying this story), and her sister’s golden retriever. “There are a lot of personalities in this house,” she says. King has also been quite active in the Black Lives Matter movement, sharing information with her 11.5 million Instagram followers, as well as marching in an L.A. demonstration. “To see that many people in one place fighting for what we believe in with such conviction while also finding the spirit in them to dance and have fun. Truly just wow,” she said on her page.
Top, pants, belt, and cuffs by Chanel; ear cuff and rings by Lillian Shalom.
Positivity seems innate for the young actress, whose openness permeates our conversation with her honest reflections of life under lockdown. “I’ve been emotionally going through ups and downs, but I am a very fortunate person and I try to count that every day,” she tells me. Her highlight of the experience has been spending so much time with her mother, Jamie, and sister, actress Hunter King, with whom she’s been bunking for the past few months.
Full look by Dior.
The day before our chat, King posed for photographer Leeor Wild from her home over Zoom. “We were both giggling through the whole thing because we’d never done anything like it before,” she says. For the pared-back cover shoot, King did her own hair and makeup, while stylist Jared Eng chimed in on outfit pairings via Facetime. “These are brands I’ve always admired and loved so much, so getting to wear their pieces in such a weird circumstance makes it all the more special,” she tells me of the designer deliveries that arrived at her home from Chanel, Dior, and Louis Vuitton.
Suit and shirt by Bella Freud; earrings by Âme; from left to right, ring by Dana Rebecca Designs; ring by Sarah Hendler; rings by EF Collection.
And while this was her first digital photo session, it certainly wasn’t King’s first time donning high fashion. A rising red carpet star in her own right, King has landed on many best-dressed lists in the past year for her eclectic choices, and most recently for the optical illusion Iris van Herpen gown she wore to the Golden Globes in February. “I love to have fun with my style, but lately, I’ve been gravitating towards elegance and looks that feel timeless,” she says. “Every now and then, I throw in something that’s a little trippy, like Iris van Herpen—she’s one of my absolute favourite designers.”
Dress by Louis Vuitton; necklace by Salakaia; earrings by AS29; ring by Nouvel Heritage.
Similarly, King is a chameleon in her acting, with her biggest roles to date covering all sides of the small-screen spectrum. In the true crime miniseries The Act, she played Gypsy Rose Blanchard, a woman who, after years of abuse at the hands of her mother, is complicit in her murder. “Playing a character such as Gypsy and being able to transform myself into another human being in the way I wanted to (and I want to say this in the most sensitive way that I can, because it is somebody’s real life that I am portraying) was a dream,” she says. The fact that Blanchard was a real person scared her, too. “I knew people had footage to compare my performance to,” says King. “So that added another element of excitement as an actor and that fear of failure, which is honestly what drives me forward so aggressively.” The risk paid off, with King receiving Golden Globe, Emmy and Screen Actors Guild nominations for her portrayal.
Full look by Chanel.
This July, King returns in the sequel to Netflix’s ultra-popular romantic comedy The Kissing Booth, in which she plays Elle Evans, a quirky teenager whose romance with high school senior Noah (played by Jacob Elordi) puts a lifelong friendship in jeopardy. She serves as executive producer, too, which is no small feat for someone at the ripe age of 20. “It’s really nice to be part of a new side of filmmaking. I’ve always been interested in producing and getting a little bit behind the camera, because I love this industry and I love film- making so much, I want to know every aspect of it,” she tells me.
Dress by Louis Vuitton; necklace by Salakaia; earrings by AS29.
As she awaits production on two more projects, an adaptation of Jodi Picoult’s bestselling novel, A Spark of Light, and The In-Between, a romance described as a latter-day spin on Ghost—King is bent on soaking up as much as she can. “I have so many wonderful people to turn to for advice and for guidance, and I have a lot of experience under my belt, but I think just getting more knowledge is never a bad thing,” she says. She dreams of directing one day, but says, “My taste is changing so much in even the past three years, and so I think I want to let my taste develop even a little bit more before I decide to put my vision into something that’s watchable.”