Actor Royle Ivy King plays a role he never thought he would see in his life for young black weirdo characters on TV.
He starred in the TV seriesAll American: Homecoming, “A spin-off of The CW series ‘All Americans’, which mainly focuses on the student-athletes of the historically fictional Black Bringston University in Atlanta. His character is Nathaniel Hardin, a pre-trial villain and a “girl in heels” who is always there to support her friends and keep them in check.
“I’m playing a character I needed when I was growing up and someone I needed to see to help me plan my future in my head,” King, 26, said. positive example.
In the first season of the television drama, some of Nathaniel’s storylines dealt with the prejudices of her living in a sorority and being a token sorority recruit to fill the quota. In other scenes, Nathaniel is a compassionate voice of reason, always ready to listen and help when her close friends are in need.
King landed the role of Nathaniel after his audition tape landed in front of All Americans: Homecoming creator and showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll. She watched one minute of the footage and immediately knew that King was exactly who she wanted for the role. The writer and executive producer wanted to create a character who lived an uncompromising life and had the ability to talk about the stigmatization of the black LGBT community, especially on college campuses.
“This show is about performance, black supremacy, and our culture,” Carroll said. “We are a show that pushes people to bring out the best in themselves. I’m trying to push the boundaries and get people to think outside the box in terms of inclusion and acceptance, so let’s talk.”
Nathaniel originally only had eight lines in the pilot, but Carroll decided to expand the character into a series regular, appearing in 10 of the show’s 13 episodes. King and Carroll regularly discussed story arcs that would humanize Nathaniel, seeking to avoid the character being permanently overwhelmed by injury or struggle like most gay and queer characters on screen.
“Every time we give Royle a scene, he brings so much life and fullness that his character continues to develop,” Carroll said. “I want the actors and writers to feel a sense of belonging to this story. Royle is just a wizard. His personality and being is a source of love, light and joy on set.”
Kristin Swanson, who directed two episodes of the first season, said, “Royle is like a rock.”
“His presence is always reassuring and supportive to the other actors,” she continued. “He’s a force of nature in a quiet manner and he’s so fun to work with.”
King was born in Fort Worth, Texas and raised in Houston in a home full of black women. The impressionable child carefully studied the styles of his aunts and grandmothers and their sisterly relationships; He said that his and Nathaniel’s power came directly from watching over his elders.
“That’s who taught me how to walk, dress, talk and do anything,” King said. “This is no. 1 factor in my way of gender expression. They did everything together with such finesse and class.”
King’s mother, a nurse, attended Prairie View A&M University, HBCU, located in Texas. As a youth, he often heard her talk about how attending HBCU set the standard for black supremacy, which helped him rethink life at an all-black university.
“Just flying over was not enough,” King said. “She was in awe of black women who were going to push her and challenge her. It helped her understand who she wants to be as a mother and how much excellence she is going to put into her job.”
When King was 9 years old, his mother remarried and moved the family to Kansas City. Life in the Midwest was a complete culture shock for the young singer and dancer, but that’s when King developed his acting bug. He enrolled in the Shakespeare camp before even entering high school and quickly realized that he had a passion for the arts.
After graduating from high school, King realized that he needed to move to the Big Apple in order to fulfill his dreams. He studied musical theater at the American Academy of Music and Drama, quickly learning how hard it was for black queer actors to get roles. Whenever he came to auditions, off-Broadway and Broadway production casting directors advised him to tone down his androgynous appearance.
“I was often told that I needed to change, to be different, and I would not fly if I wanted to work in this business,” King said. “There have been a lot of pushes and pulls in this area of my life.”
After performing on cruise ships, King landed roles in productions of Rent and Fame. In 2019, he was filmed in the background of the FX series Pose. His ballroom scene was cut, but the moment encouraged the patient tragedian to become more confident in his own skin and wait for his breakthrough.
“You were just surrounded by such beauty,” King said of working on Pose. “I told myself I didn’t need to change, and that’s when I really became the person to fight it. The industry has changed and stories are being told that are close to my heart.”
“I fit in and there is a place for me in this world,” King continued. “I figured if it takes me a little longer, I’ll just be myself.”
Before landing his role in All Americans: Homecoming, King took a close look at how Pose lead actress Michaela Jay Rodriguez interacted with the cast on set, trying to create good chemistry with the other cast members.
A conversation he had with actor Nikko Annan, who plays the flamboyant, quick-witted Uncle Clifford in the Starz hit “P-Valley,” helped King realize just how important his character is to a younger audience.
“He pulled me to side and we had a really great conversation about the impact of what we’re doing here and how important this character is,” King said. “He was rooting for me and there was so much love that I felt right at that moment. He is so full of light and wise words.”
In addition to acting, King is one of the models for Beyoncé’s Ivy Park clothing line. He is featured on social media for the Rodeo Collection and hopes to someday turn this opportunity into a partnership with his favorite brands Balmain and Balenciaga.
The talented artist has yet to meet the megastar directly, but is proud to have one of his images appear on her Instagram stories.
“That was enough for me,” King said. “I passed out. If I talked to Beyoncé or even her mother, the whole world would know about it. It would probably be at the top of my resume.”
Pose co-creator Ryan Murphy personally selected King for his upcoming Netflix feature Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, along with actor Evan Peters. King’s dream role is to eventually become a black queer superhero.
King is proud that his role as the outspoken and opinionated Nathaniel Hardin brought him more recognition. All Americans: Homecoming has been renewed for a second season, and King hopes his role can open the door for more black queer talent to work in front of and behind the camera.
“The same work should be focused on the other side of the camera,” King said. “There needs to be more black queer people in casting, as studio executives, networks and writers to be able to tell these stories. So actually being like this now is healing for the child in me, but knowing that I can do that for a lot of other black queer young people is really important.”