“Lessons In Chemistry” Star Aja Naomi King Shares Why She’s Posting Her Resume Of Failures On LinkedIn

at Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 23, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.

Aja Naomi King has always won.

Since a child, people would often tell her “things just come so easily for you.” That’s why when she finally did fail at something, she was emotionally ill-equipped to handle it.

“I wasn’t prepared for the shame that came along with that,” King shares candidly. “Luckily, I had my parents around to really teach me how to learn from failure because I was so used to everything goes my way.”

Over time, she became much more familiar with failure. After all, she’s in one of the toughest businesses in the world…show biz.

Despite now being lauded for her rousing onscreen performances, the award-winning How To Get Away With Murder and Lessons In Chemistry actress has been rejected more times than she can count. Although most would hide the missteps, she’s shining a light on them.

Also a L’Oreal Paris ambassador since 2017, King’s one of the faces of the global beauty brand’s latest campaign, Worth It Resume, in which unrealistic standards are challenged and women are empowered to celebrate their setbacks. Alongside heavy hitters like Eva Longoria, Helen Mirren and Jane Fonda, King is listing her failures on LinkedIn instead of the usual career wins we see on the professionals-focused social network.

“It’s utterly beautiful to be working with a brand that not only embraces women as we are, but seeks to continue to inspire women to fully believe in themselves and walk in their purpose,” she tells ESSENCE.

King has always been open about grappling with imposter syndrome over the years as a Black woman navigating a career in entertainment. In 2017, she touched on her feelings during ESSENCE’s Black Women In Hollywood ceremony where she was being honored.

“When I found out I was being honored by Essence, I looked to these women, and honestly, all I could think was, You want to honor me with them?,” King shared in her acceptance speech. “I don’t know why I’m so eager to undermine my own talent. I guess because it feels easier to reduce my abilities than to step into the greatness of my purpose.”

Article continues after video.

The L’Oreal Paris campaign is an extension of her commitment to empowering women to embrace all aspects of themselves to live the life they’re purposed to.

“Lessons In Chemistry” Star Aja Naomi King Shares Why She’s Posting Her Resume Of Failures On LinkedIn

“We live in a world full of no’s—we have to be our first yes,” King shares. “There’s always going to be obstacles. We can’t allow ourselves to be one of them.”

Recent research has found that 81% of women feel more pressure not to fail than men, due to the systemic notion that while boys are often raised to be brave, girls are raised to be perfect, L’Oreal notes.

“This data speaks to how debilitating the idea is that somehow you can walk into a room and there will be a man and a woman in there, and for some reason that man will believe that he could do anything, and that woman might believe, well, I have to learn everything about it before I can even try to do something,” King points out. “It’s something that I’ve experienced and dealt with myself because even for myself on my own path to really fully actualizing everything that I am capable of. It is not a straight upward trajectory, I wish. It has always been these ups and downs in my self-confidence that even allow me to attempt to go after that. But I found this worth it resume so profound, and it was almost scary putting it together and looking back at it.”

“Lessons In Chemistry” Star Aja Naomi King Shares Why She’s Posting Her Resume Of Failures On LinkedIn

King spoke about one of her most devastating “failures” that nearly derailed her career before it even began.

“I had to drop out of a very prestigious honors program when I was in high school, and I literally thought that was going to be the end of the world for me,” Kings tells ESSENCE. “But instead, oh, my God, it opened up my world in this major way, and I probably would not have pursued acting had I not dropped out of it. So it’s amazing the things that we learn about ourselves from our failures. And sometimes the things that we look at as opportunities, it might be be an opportunity for someone, but your opportunity could be waiting for you elsewhere, and this was just the practice for you to get to your opportunity. I encourage more women to embrace those big failures because even bigger wins are waiting to take their place.”

This interview was edited for clarity and brevity.

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