|January 15, 1971|
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Born Jan. 15, 1971, King grew up in Los Angeles, where she would later say that she did not find stardom, stardom found her. Certain that performing was her future, King took acting lessons as a child from coach Betty Bridges, mother of "Diff'rent Strokes" star Todd Bridges. By the time she was a teenager, she landed a role on the saucy sitcom "227" (NBC, 1985-1990), playing Brenda, daughter of series lead Marla Gibbs. After graduating from Westchester High School in 1988, she enrolled at the University of Southern California, before making the leap to more mature roles with parts in "Boyz in the Hood" (1991) and "Poetic Justice" (1993). She appeared in guest starring roles on "Northern Exposure" (CBS, 1990-95), "New York Undercover" (Fox, 1994-98) and the sitcom "Living Single" (Fox, 1993-98), then later appeared in "High Learning" (1995) as well as the cult comedy hit, "Friday" (1995).
After playing the girlfriend of Martin Lawrence in "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate" (1996), she moved on to a breakout role as the wife of Cuba Gooding, Jr. in Cameron Crowe's smash hit "Jerry Maguire," which mesmerized critics and moviegoers and put King squarely on the map after giving a hilarious, over-the-top performance. She went on to appear as Will Smith's wife in the action thriller "Enemy of the State" (1998), then took roles in "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" (1998) and "Mighty Joe Young" (1998). On television, she appeared in the TV movies "Where the Truth Lies" (Lifetime, 1999) and "If These Walls Could Talk 2" (HBO, 2000), before landing a regular role on the short-lived sitcom, "Leap of Faith" (NBC, 2002).
King continued her steady climb up the Hollywood food chain move with a series of supporting roles in blockbusters such as "Daddy Day Care," (2003) playing the wife of star Eddie Murphy, and in "Legally Blonde 2: Red White and Blonde," (2003) in the part of Grace, the whip-smart chief of staff to Congresswoman Sally Field and arch rival of bubbly, pink-loving law school grad, Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon). King next had a memorable comedic turn as a feisty FBI agent in the surprise hit sequel, "Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Dangerous" (2005), opposite Sandra Bullock. The two took pride in performing many of their own stunts, though King suffered a twisted ankle during a climactic fight scene after tripping over her own wig.
It was during the shooting of "Miss Congeniality" that King heard the news that she won the role of Margie Hendricks, mistress and backup singer for Ray Charles (Jaime Foxx), in Taylor Hackford's biopic, "Ray." Excited by the meaty role, which she insisted upon playing over the role of Charles' wife, Della Bea Robinson (Kerry Washington), King set out to learn as much as she could about the real-life "Raelette," who only appeared in a handful of film clips and photographs. King relied heavily on word-of-mouth accounts and information director Taylor Hackford gleaned from Charles himself before his passing just prior to the movie's release. King was recognized for her stellar performance with Image and BET awards.
With her star on the rise, King put her voice to work in the animated film, "The Ant Bully" (2006), joining a cast that included Julia Roberts, Nicholas Cage and Meryl Streep. Continuing work in animation, she voiced dual characters Riley and Huey Freeman in the groundbreaking animated series "The Boondocks," (Cartoon Network, 2005- ), based on the comic strip of the same name, and one of the first animated series since "Fat Albert" to feature a predominantly African-American cast. Back in live action, King played Layla, friend and confidant of a woman (Molly Shannon) grieving over her deceased dog in the quirky indie comedy "Year of the Dog" (2007). King's next television venture was on the high-octane TV hit, "24," (Fox, 2000-2010), playing the strong-willed advocacy lawyer Sandra Palmer, sister of President Wayne Palmer (D.B. Woodside). Following a supporting turn as a fashion designer and breast cancer survivor in "Living Proof" (Lifetime Television, 2008), King was one of the stars on the critically acclaimed cop drama, "Southland" (NBC/TNT, 2009- ), on which she played Det. Lydia Adams, who struggles to balance her gritty work with her home life. Meanwhile, she continued acting on the big screen in supporting roles for the romantic comedy "Our Family Wedding" (2010) and the romantic fantasy "Beastly" (2011).