Growing up in the Pork‘n Beans projects in Liberty City, Nika King had a front seat to the devastation caused by drugs.
“Most adults in my life were addicted to drugs,” King said. “I was familiar with all the lies, stealing and cheating that comes with that.”
She credits that life experience for preparing her for her role in the new HBO series “Euphoria,” which premieres June 16. King stars as a tough and determined mother trying to guide her troubled daughters through the perils of love and friendships in a world of drugs, sex, trauma and social media. Actresses Zendaya and Storm Reid play her daughters and rapper Drake is an executive producer.
“Zendaya’s character is a drug addict,” King said. “I play her mother who tries to keep them off the wrong path and to influence the little sister in the right way. She is a strong Black woman and a survivor. She is living daily with an addict who is a teenager dealing with friendships, social media and bullying. It is everything that a single parent has to deal with.”
Starring in the series helped King to deal with unresolved issues within her own family about addiction.
“My uncle died of a drug overdose right before filming began on the show,” King said. “I was able to use the emotions of feeling helpless in the show. It was a healing process and I dedicate this performance to him.”
King graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Performance and a minor in African Studies from the University of Florida. Immediately following graduation, she moved to Los Angeles and began working with sketch comedy groups and booking roles on popular television series including "Hannah Montana," "Greenleaf," "2 Broke Girls," "NCIS: Los Angeles," and "Wild 'n Out."
A self-described class clown in high school, King started doing standup comedy straight out of college.
“It was an attempt to control my career because I wasn’t getting dramatic roles,” King said. “It was my outlet and a tool to talk about things affecting my life.”
She first hit the stage at the Miami Improv, when it was located in Coconut Grove.
“It was scary, but I knew I could do it,” King said. “I was funny and silly enough. I just needed to write material.”
Later, King got the chance to perform in front of the owner of the Improv comedy club chain, Budd Friedman during a showcase for the “Last Comic Standing” television series in Los Angeles. Although King didn’t make it on the show, Friedman liked her, and she began performing standup comedy at Improvs throughout California and in Las Vegas.
“He gave me his stamp of approval,” King said. “I was able to develop my material and be ready to become a headliner.”
“Euphoria” is King’s introduction to the world as a dramatic actor and gives her the opportunity to flex her acting chops.
“God’s timing is always impeccable,” King said. “The series encompasses everything I experienced personally as a child. My adult family members being addicted to crack cocaine. I never really healed from that. This project was my healing. I hope this helps people to see the light in the darkness and knowing how you begin is not how you end.”