Joey King knows a thing or two about transforming herself for a part. Fresh off an Emmy nomination for her revelatory performance as Gypsy Rose Blanchard in Hulu’s The Act, 20-year-old King is gearing up to undertake her biggest challenge yet: starring alongside ex-boyfriend Jacob Elordi in next year’s The Kissing Booth 2. So, it comes as no surprise that Urban Decay recruited the risk-taking actress to star in their new Pretty Different campaign alongside fellow trailblazers Ezra Miller, Lizzo, Karol G, and CL. If you’re looking for a common thread that binds the brand’s new ambassadors, well, there isn’t one—and that’s the point, says King, who filled me in recently on set at a photo shoot for the campaign in Los Angeles. In our time together, King I chatted about HGTV, baking versus cooking, and what it felt like recently to shave her head for the third time. Want to know the details? Read on.
The Pretty Different campaign is all about celebrating what makes you different. How do you celebrate your differences?
King: "What I love so much about this campaign is the idea of actually being pretty different. One thing that happened to me recently was I shaved my head for the third time. I have not been someone who’s very attached to their hair, but when you strip away such a big piece of vanity like that, it kind of just makes you confront yourself and really see yourself for who you are, and you have to really look inward for that confidence. And this campaign really helped me through my hair-growing-out process and through figuring out what it means to be a woman, because so much is associated with your hair and your makeup. It kind of just gave me this outlet to be playful with my makeup and be free without my hair."
Yeah, hair is so tied up with femininity. How did shaving your hair this time compare to the other times you’ve done it?
"The first time I did it I was 11, the second time I was 14, and it was more of a fun, like, Oh my god, I’m shaving my head! Now I’m a lot more in the public eye than I was, people say mean things all the time, you know. Plus the idea of, like, Oh man, this is gonna take a long time to grow out again—it’s a big commitment. But what I found was that after I shaved my head this last time, I actually became more confident than I ever had been, and I think it was because I stripped away such a huge part of what’s associated with being a woman. I just really embraced the feeling of just being free."
The campaign is so wild—there’s you, there’s Lizzo, there’s Ezra Miller. Have you worked with any of the other spokespeople? How do you all fit together?
"I think it’s that we don’t fit, and that’s why we were chosen. Which is why it’s so much fun. I’m working with people who are so different from me, and I’m so different from them. I’ve gotten to work with Ezra a couple times, and he is just so cool and inspiring because he just does not care. He’s a fashion icon, he’s a makeup icon, he’s whatever he wants to be, and that’s why I admire him so much. And Lizzo, I just always have been a fan of hers. I’m so happy that she’s just completely owning and dominating the world right now and having the moment that she deserves, because she’s so powerful, so beautiful. She is just all about being confident and loving yourself for who you are, which I think everyone can use a daily reminder of—myself included!"
How do you do that? How do you embrace the things that set you apart?
"I’m very lucky that I have such a great family. When I’m feeling down on myself or a little insecure, I check in with them. My sisters are close-ish to my age, and they have been through the same insecurities and struggles, and so being able to talk to them about it is so wonderful. And another thing I love to do when I’m not feeling my best or even if I just need a little loving-myself reminder is to crack open my makeup bag and start playing around. It’s such a fun hobby for me, and I’ve always loved makeup."
Makeup is such a great outlet for self-expression.
"Yeah, every day I do something different with my makeup just because it makes me feel fun and special to be able to play around and do different things every day. The Urban Decay Naked Honey Palette that’s out now is my favorite fall look, because I love to do bronze-y colors and gold colors and fun things like that. What’s so great about it is it works great for my skin tone, and then Lizzo, it looks amazing on her skin tone, too. I think Urban Decay’s lip colors are so fun and bright, like the big pinks. And then I love the All Nighter Setting Spray. I use it literally every single day. It is just the perfect way to top off any makeup look that I’m doing, whether it’s a natural look or full glam or something crazy with a big bold lip."
What are your skincare favorites? Do you have a go-to routine?
"I always wash my face at night before I go to bed. I use a makeup removing wipe, and then I use a toner, then I’ll wash my face with soap, and then I’ll spray some, like, refreshing cucumber stuff on my face. And then always moisturize. Right now, I’m using a company called Skyn Iceland, which is really great."
Are there any other things you like to do for self-care?
"I’ve been really into cooking recently. It just is a very fun way to kind of let your mind go. Also, you just feel good when you make something and you know that you made it and it’s yours."
I saw that you’ve been getting into cooking lately! Are you more of a baker or a cook?
"I love to bake, but I’m trying to cook more because eating cake every day is not realistic! I think baking is my favorite, but cooking is like really, really fun for me because there’s so much more you can do. With baking, it’s way too mathematical for me, but when it comes to cooking, I feel like I have a lot more freedom."
I’ve always thought of it as, like, baking is more science and cooking is more art.
"Exactly. Baking is like, if you fuck it up, you fuck it up. It’s like, you add a little too much flour, the whole thing’s ruined. But with cooking you’re like, oh, I added a little too much of this, I’ll just add this to cover it up!"
Do you have any special rituals you do to get in or out of character when you’re working?
"Every role is so different that you have to have a different process for every character. But one thing I do to get out of a mindset and kind of just unwind is, um, I love watching HGTV. And so my favorite way to unwind after a hard day of work is to watch House Hunters."
That’s my mom’s favorite, too.
"It’s so good! It’s like the best show ever. I grew up watching it every single night. That and I love Monopoly, so like, a good board game and some HGTV? Sign me up."
What makes you choose a role? What makes your characters unique?
"For me, when I choose a character, I always try to pick people who I’ve never gotten the chance to play before. So, keeping it fun and pretty different is important to me because I wanna challenge myself, I wanna keep pushing myself to my limits and push myself outside of my comfort zone, and that’s why I love being an actress so much—because I get the opportunity to play so many different people and just embody a different person every time I step on a set."
When you’re playing a certain part, does that spill over into the way you dress or do your own makeup?
"For sure. Every time I do a role, I notice things about each character, and sometimes some of those things creep their way into real life. Like a lot of shows I’ve been on, I take little pieces of wardrobe that I wear now all the time, or a makeup artist taught me a trick on this job and now I use it here. So, a piece of my heart and soul definitely lies with each character that I play."