Since the split with Warner, King has stayed single, focusing on her craft and becoming a vocal advocate in the push for diversity in Hollywood. And finally, the awards began pouring in. Her first Emmy win, for work in the first season of ABC’s anthology series American Crime, came in 2015, with another following suit a year later. At the same time, she began developing a serious passion for directing. Since helming a 2013 episode of Southland, she’s gone on to direct episodes of Scandal, This Is Us, Shameless, The Good Doctor and Insecure.
“My career right now is not a transition [away from acting], it’s a hyphenate. In a lot of regards, it’s just beginning,” she told Vulture in 2015. “You guys haven’t had a chance to see what I can do yet.”
And that included her next major role, a reunion with The Leftovers auteur Damon Lindelof for his ambitious adaptation of the cult comic book series Watchmen, which debuted on HBO in late 2019 to great acclaim. “I’m like, ‘I wait until I’m darn near 50 to be a superhero,'” King told USA Today with a laugh. “Thank goodness my body is still fluid, and I can run and jump and do some cool stuff.” Her work as Angela Abar in series earned King her fourth Emmy.
After Watchmen, King took her directing career to the next level, stepping behind the camera to direct One Night in Miami…, an adaptation of Kemp Powers‘ stage play imagining a meeting between Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Sonny Liston. The Amazon project was just scenes away from completing filming with the coronavirus pandemic shut down the industry a year ago. As she waited to return to production, the United States found itself in an overdue racial reckoning, which had King itching to return to set even more.