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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Actor addresses mental health issues at campus event: ‘Euphoria’ star Nika King says she was meant for role

Nika King plays the role of Leslie Bennett on HBO Max’s “Euphoria.” PHOTO COURTESY OF TAYLOR MORGAN

Actor Nika King told an audience gathered at The Perch on Hawk Hill that she was meant for the role of Leslie Bennett on HBO Max’s “Euphoria.”

“I was born to play this role,” King said at the April 19 event, hosted by St. Joe’s Collegiate Recovery Program and attended by about 60 people. 

King’s character on “Euphoria” is the mother of the show’s main character, Rue, a teeanger in recovery from drug abuse. Playing that role resurfaced memories from her childhood that King didn’t know she had repressed, she said. Her own mother abused drugs. 

“I played basketball, volleyball, was in all the clubs, and the main reason, I was a perfectionist and I did a lot of things, [and] I didn’t want to go home,” King said. “For me, home was not a safe place.”

Taylor Moran, residential manager of St. Joe’s Collegiate Recovery Program, said the program decided to invite King to St. Joe’s after learning about her nonprofit organization, Rose of Sharon, which is named for King’s mother, Sharon. The nonprofit focuses on mental health for Black and brown people, offering classes and assistance to those dealing with mental health issues.  

“We thought that would be a really wonderful thing to have her come out to the campus and give her message out to everyone on campus,” Moran said.  

Aminah McDougald ’24, who helps out at the Collegiate Recovery Program on the University City campus, said conversations about mental health are important to have at St. Joe’s.

“Physical, mental, emotional values, morals, ethics, it just encompasses so much more than what we are allowing ourselves to do,” McDougald said. “And we have to just stop invalidating it and making it such a hard thing to want to bring up regarding ourselves and [other] people.”

Nicole Sconiers, King’s friend and a freelance screenwriter who also spoke at the event, encouraged students to reach out for help if they’re struggling with mental health issues.

“When you’re having those episodes or when you’re feeling depressed, that’s the time when you most need to reach out for help and talk to people,” Sconiers said in an interview with the Hawk after the event. “I hope that the students take away that it’s OK to not feel great all the time and it’s OK to reach out for help.”

After her talk, King invited questions from the audience. Sheridan Leak ’25 asked King about “imposter syndrome.”

“How did you overcome that in an industry where you just don’t see yourself very often?” Leak asked the Black actor. 

King responded with encouragement. 

“Don’t let anyone diminish your light,” King said. “Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re not supposed to be there.”

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