When I chatted with Jaime King on the phone about her recent ColourPop collaboration, things went way beyond makeup — they got deep, quickly. The actress, model, entrepreneur, and Taylor Swift #squad member (Swift is her son's godmother!) has a strong voice that carries conviction. She speaks out for gender equality and advocates for those who've suffered from abuse, as well as those who've been bullied both online and off.
Her passion carries over into every project she takes on, whether it's raising her two sons (James, 2, and Leo, 9 months), creating a makeup line that works for all skin tones, designing gender-fluid clothing for children, or simply crafting a refreshingly honest tweet. Ahead, King talks about her son's love of makeup, her experiences being bullied when she was growing up, and how her principles shape everything she does.
Son James in the background: "Mommy's talking to a friend about makeup; when I'm done I'll come up and play..."
"Sorry, that's my son, he loves makeup," starts King. "I keep trying to give him an EOS lip balm and trick him into thinking it's actual lipstick, but he's like, 'No, mommy!'"
Does he play with all your stuff?
"He's obsessed with makeup. He grew up on set, so ever since he was five weeks old he was sitting on my lap while I got my hair and makeup done. He knows where everything goes... He sees it just like everything else — as a face with a canvas. People ask if a 2-year-old can really understand that — yes, they really understand that."
Does he have his own makeup?
"He has a makeup kit. He paints his nails, but he's such a boy! He doesn’t have to be this or that or the other — he can be whatever he wants to be. I am really excited because I have a clothing line coming out that's the first gender-fluid clothing line for babies and children called Gardner and the Gang."
Tell me about that.
"If [kids] want to put on a superhero costume, if they want to dress like a princess, they should be able to do that without feeling judged. If a girl isn't into princesses and wants to play football, she should be allowed to do that. The more we stifle the expression of our children, we're stifling the future… We’re saying that we live within these parameters, and these parameters cannot be broken, and I just don’t believe that's the kind of world that I want to live in or raise my children in."
You've become such a strong advocate for gender equality. How does beauty tie into that?
"Beauty is all within. We live in a beauty-obsessed culture, but I realized at one point that being called beautiful my whole life never helped me fit in. It never stopped the bullying when I was a kid."
What would you say to young people experiencing bullying now?
"It makes me very teary-eyed to think about it, because I know that so many children are experiencing these things. And not only younger people, but what [adults] do to each other. When I go online and I see women and men being body-shamed, we call it 'trial by Twitter.' It's like you’re tried, prosecuted, and hung via social media… There's an angry mob of people that hide behind their computers, and they don't understand that they have completely destroyed someone's life. It kills me that it's being allowed. We cannot live within the Wild West in regards to social media — we need to start creating other parameters."
So why did you decide to do a makeup line?
"I'm obsessed with fashion, and I'm obsessed with beauty. For me, it's fun because it's a costume and it's a way of exploration — it’s truly a medium and a beautiful art form. Yet, at the same time, I know that it's still an illusion. But in times of war, the things that never slowed down — even in the Depression — were sales of red lipstick. What that says to me is that everyone needs a little something to make them feel beautiful when they're feeling down — whatever that means, whether words of encouragement or a beautiful lipstick."
Do you consider yourself an activist?
"I can't help but be an advocate and activist for people to start to understand each other and come together. My mom did it [when I was growing up]. Now, in a time when you would think we would all be connected…we can all connect with each other on social media…yet there is still so much hatred, so much separation, so much body-shaming, and so much inequality in regards to minorities and women. It is vital [to be an activist].
"We've come so far, but we haven't come that far: There's a lot more work that needs to be done. If I can use my voice in any way, shape, or form to make people feel less alone — which is why I'm an actor — I apply that to every single thing that I do, creatively speaking."