Since coming on the scene in How to Get Away with Murder, Aja Naomi King has been serving up progressive slayage. The 33-year-old actress has gone from making appearances on red carpets to shutting them down and even L’Oréal Paris took note when they made the beauty the newest face of their brand this past November.
But in demonstrating the importance of women, specifically Black women, supporting one another in the industry, King said it was Gabrielle Union who actually pulled her aside and taught her how to use her beauty to be influential.
“I just thought I looked fine,” King told Glamour magazine of her entrance into the entertainment business. “That’s where Gabrielle Union, one of the kindest women I ever met in this industry, sat me down and said, ‘Let’s talk about your stylist, your makeup, your hair. What are you wearing on the red carpet? You’re a gorgeous girl. How are you making an impact?’ It was extremely useful because you don’t know this stuff.”
King shares the April 2018 cover of Glamour with Elle Fanning and Camila Cabello for a candid conversation on beauty and how we develop our ideals around it.
“When you’re growing up in [minority] communities, you begin to question whether you are beautiful,” King said. “And when you see an image of yourself being reflected from a magazine or a commercial or show, and that person is being touted as beautiful, then you get to look at yourself and think, Oh, that means me too.”
Speaking on how she defines her own beauty aesthetic now, the star of the upcoming biopic A Girl from Mogadishu, said, “For me personally, I love my face, with or without makeup. But I love makeup. And I love it when I see natural hair on TV, but I also love it when I see Black women in straight hair. Or in wigs. Or in braids. I think we’re at a place now—I know for myself, I can’t speak for everyone—where the power is in knowing that I have a choice. I don’t have to conform to anyone’s idea of what blackness or beautiful is. Hi, this is Aja today, going out into the world. What are you gonna do about it?”