‘The Act’s’ Joey King hopes her Emmy nom brings justice to Gypsy Rose Blanchard

Actress Joey King.
Actress Joey King has high hopes for her first Emmy nomination.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

As Joey King received a lead actress Emmy nomination for her turn as Gypsy Rose Blanchard in Hulu’s “The Act,” her real-life counterpart continues to serve prison time. The first-time nominee hopes continued recognition for the show will change that.

“Her story is one that is so complicated, and it’s so unfortunate how it’s been perceived in the media for so long,” King said Tuesday, not long after Emmy nominations were announced. “When this story first came out, people looked at Gypsy as a cold-blooded killer, and that’s not what she is at all. She’s a victim.”

In the limited series, which is based on true events, King portrays Gypsy, a young woman who conspires to kill her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, after experiencing prolonged domestic abuse. The series dramatizes the pair’s unusual relationship, which involves Dee Dee brainwashing Gypsy — and everyone who meets her — into believing she suffers from a debilitating illness, forcing her daughter to use a wheelchair and consume food through a tube.


“I hope that this story educates people a little bit on how much Gypsy actually went through and how little she deserved to be where she is right now,” King said. “I hope that our show sheds a little bit of light on that and hopefully ... gives her some peace of mind and potentially an early release — I wish, I hope, I pray.

“But what I really hope for her is that she is able to seek rehabilitation and find therapy, because the most unfortunate thing about her circumstance right now is that she’s being held in a prison that does not offer mental help.”

‘The Act’ star Joey King visits the L.A. Times studio to talk about the Hulu true-crime series and getting into her character’s complexity.

The 19-year-old actress was on her way to film the sequel to Netflix’s “The Kissing Booth” in South Africa when she watched her name appear in the Emmy category for lead actress in a limited series Tuesday. Shortly after, King posted a video of her tearful reaction on Instagram and Twitter.

“I don’t even know what was going through my mind,” King said. “I’m still reeling. I can’t believe any of it’s real. I can’t believe I get to be nominated alongside such amazing women — especially Patricia [Arquette]. Getting to be nominated alongside her is honestly a dream come true. It’s been the most incredible day of my life.”

Arquette, King’s fellow Emmy nominee, scored nods both for her supporting role as King’s TV mother in “The Act” and her lead role in Showtime’s “Escape at Dannemora.” The costars — who will compete against each other for the lead actress award — celebrated news of their nominations together over the phone.

“It was so special,” King said of their conversation. “She just kept telling me over and over again how proud she was of me and how much she loved working with me, and it’s amazing to hear those words come out of someone’s mouth that you admire and you love so much and you created such a special bond with. She means the world to me, and knowing that she’s proud of me is worth so much.”

The star added that “it’s been so hard” to focus while filming her latest project between joyful tears. Luckily, her castmates have been understanding.

“Everyone here on the ‘Kissing Booth 2' set has been so amazing today,” King said. “The nominations came in, and I walked on set, and everyone was just cheering and clapping, and it was the sweetest moment for me.”

With another day of production ahead of her, the working actress plans to celebrate responsibly.

“Oh, man, I’ve got an early call time tomorrow, so I’m going to order a burger to my room and go to bed,” King joked.

The 71st Emmys ceremony will air on Fox at 5 p.m. Pacific on Sept. 22.