Flava DJ Alex King plays the mean girl in high school soccer drama The Wolves. NZME's youngest radio host gets her entertainment industry advice from her dad, Mike King.
1. Your dad has said it wasn't until age 45 that he decided to deal with his mental health and addiction issues. How old were you at the time?
I was 12. That was a big turning point in all our lives. My parents had divorced and I'd just left our small school in Bream Bay to board at St Cuthbert's when the Herald published Dad's story. I remember going into drama class and my teacher saying, "Interesting read on your dad this morning." I'd grown up having people stare at him wherever we went — he called it "Look at the monkey" — but I didn't really understand how groundbreaking it was until I got older. Everyone was like, "What is he doing? Is he having a Britney Spears moment?" But it worked out for the best.
2. Did your dad warn you he was going public with such personal issues?
He did. I remember when my Dad told me that he was a drug addict. I said to him, "Well if you promise to never do drugs again, I'll promise to make you a cup of tea every time you ask." I'd always hated making him tea, but I knew I had to bring out the big guns. He said, "Okay, that's a good enough deal" and from that day forward every time he asked for a cup of tea, I made him one. And it worked.
3. Did you notice a change in him after that?
No, that's the thing — I never saw Dad as depressed. He's always just been dad and he was always telling jokes. Mum and Dad were quite good at keeping their personal life private from us kids. All families have the odd tiff but I never saw anything abnormal.
4. Are you a family of performers?
Yes, performing's a big thing in our family. I've always sung, my whole life. I'd sing to my nana in Kaiwaka on the phone every night. When I was 11, I got to represent New Zealand in the World Champs of Performing Arts in LA and got third place, which was crazy. My brother Nathan's a talented rapper; his stage name is Sesh. My sister in Australia's a great singer and my 6-year-old half-sister Charlie was on stage with Dad at the Aroha Nui concert so she already knows how to work a crowd.
5. How did you become a Flava radio host at just 19?
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I was doing an acting course with Sarah Gandy from The Hits. She told me there was a job coming up at Flava that she thought I'd be good for. I was thinking a promo person but they wanted me to go on air! I did weekends for two years and shifted to weekdays in November. It was really scary at first because you have to find a way to engage with listeners while sitting alone in the studio. I imagine I'm talking to my friends and think, "Would they want to hear this?" I get a lot of good feedback but there are some haters.
6. Have you learned how to deal with the haters?
I don't respond because that's what they want. I'm quite a sensitive person and I want people to like me, but Dad told me there's always going to be someone who doesn't like you, no matter what you do. In a job like this, you have to learn to accept that and live with it. I'm so grateful to have Dad's guidance in this industry because it's very different to normal life. He's full of wisdom. Any time I have a life crisis, he's the person I go to. He's given me insight into why boys are the way they are.
7. Are you going out with Stan Walker?
No, that's another Alex King. It's funny, I've always had a little crush on Stan Walker — who doesn't? — and I was just talking to my friend about it when a week later — I kid you not — this news article came out saying 'Stan Walker dates Alex King'. I got a call from my mum saying, "Do you have something to tell me?" I'm like, "Oh my gosh, Mum. Read the article and get back to me." I got so many texts about it.
8. Do you have a boyfriend?
I've been single for three years. To be honest, I am a relationship girl. I don't do casual relationships — never have, never will. I have to have an emotional connection with someone to be really into it. It's hard being single when all my friends are in long-term relationships. Sometimes I'm scared to be on my own but it's also exciting.
9. You're about to appear in the play The Wolves. What's it about?
It's about a high school football team. The script, by American playwright Sarah DeLappe, is pretty much exactly how high school girls normally talk to each other. There's swearing and talk about periods and boys and the situations the characters are facing. I found it refreshing to read a script about young people that goes deeper than the cliché of us always being on our phones and not talking to each other in real life, when we do.
10. Which character are you?
My character 'No 7' is the B.I.T.C.H. of the group; the ringleader, the intimidating one that always gets what she wants. I've come across a few girls like that in my time at St Cuth's. It's important to find a way to like your character. I think she's battling her own insecurities. She's rich but her dad's always away, so she's angry and takes it out on her friends. She's really fun to play because she's super sassy and has lots of the punchlines.
11. How did you fit in rehearsals around hosting Freeride from 9am to 3pm each day?
Because most of the cast are still at high school, we did our rehearsals on weekends and school holidays. I'm the oldest in the cast. It's my first theatre performance since I graduated from my acting course last year, so it's exciting.
12. What issue are you most passionate about?
I'm passionate about mental health. Not as passionate as Dad because he's 24/7, but I know a lot of my friends — especially my guy friends — and their parents struggle. I'm also really passionate about climate change. All these people making the decisions aren't going to be the ones that inherit the earth. They say we've only got 12 years left to turn things around — I'll be 32! I avoid single-use plastics and fast fashion. I saw an awful YouTube documentary on children mining for the glittery ingredient in make-up so I only buy ethical.
• The Wolves, Thursday 20 June to 13 July, Q Theatre, Queen St. www.qtheatre.co.nz/wolves