'HTGAWM' Star Aja Naomi King Shares Her Battle With Self-Doubt In Moving Speech

Photo by Rich Polk
‘My inner critic is strong’ but ‘I know that I am stronger,’ said the honoree at the ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood awards gala.

No one is immune to a moment of self-doubt. Not even How to Get Away With Murder star Aja Naomi King, who plays tough cookie Michaela on the hit show.

On the same night that the actress helped save the day during the show's two-hour season finale last week, King gave an inspiring acceptance speech during the ESSENCE 10th Annual Black Women In Hollywood Awards in Los Angeles.

Related: Issa Rae Aja Naomi King, Yara Shahidi and Janelle Monae’s Prayer Circle Will Give You All The Feels

"I’m struggling with seeing these possibilities because my own inner critic, with this full belly and swollen mouth is eating up all my joy and belief in myself trying to trick me into thinking that I’m not worthy,” she said.

“That feeling of 'I don’t belong here' and 'I don’t deserve this' as if I’m sitting in a dark room somewhere afraid that someone at any moment is going to come in and turn on the light and say how did you get in here?” she continued. 

Related: Issa, Janelle, Aja and Yara To Be Honored At ESSENCE's Black Women In Hollywood Event

The trained actress and Yale-graduate was honoreed alongside Insecure's Issa Rae, music artist and Hidden Figures star Janelle Monaé, and Black-ish star Yara Shahidi.

 Her nearly seven-minute speech told the powerful story of how she overcome negative thinking while being "afraid, but boldly making a choice to living brightly."

“I don’t know why I’m so eager to undermine my own talents. I guess because it feels easier to reduce my abilities than to step into the greatness of my purpose,” she emotionally revealed.

King shared how fearful it can be to live out your dreams because “now I have something to lose.”

“In order for me to survive in this industry and in this world, in order for me to thrive, I have to stop believing that the root of my talent is a tree growing inside of someone else’s yard,” she said. 

The 32-year-old actress also paid tribute to her three co-honorees with a special message. 

“Thank you Janelle for sharing with us the depth of your soul …thank you Issa for giving us insight into the scope of all of our experiences … thank you Yara, it’s a joy to watch you as you make your voice and your presence known,” she said. 

As HTGAWM fans were anxiously preparing to find out during the finale who killed Wes (played by Alfred Enoch), King made jokes saying that she found his killer during the Awards ceremony. 

Before landing her major roles in ABC’s How To Get Away With Murder and Nate Parker’s Birth of A Nation, King also starred in the films The Rewrite, Four and The Blacklist.

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