Photographer: James Lee Wall
Stylist: Krisana Sotelo
Make Up Artist: Kumi Craig
Hair Stylist: Kumi Craig
Written by: Sydni Keppen
Design: Jiyoon Cha
Graeme Thomas King is an actor currently starring in the Freeform series, Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, a spin-off of the hit seven-year series Pretty Little Liars. After studying and working in finance in London, Graeme was in the right place at the right time when an interaction with a young filmmaker ultimately led to his new career in acting. Graeme talks more below about making the switch from finance to acting and continuing the Pretty Little Liars legacy.
SL: Tell us about Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists and your character Jeremy.
GTK: The show is set a few years after the events of Pretty Little Liars and centres around three university students as they cope with the rigours of being perfectionists at Beacon Heights University. Alison and Mona have travelled to Beacon Heights for a fresh start in their lives. Everything changes when a murder happens which rocks the perfect image of Beacon Heights. I play Jeremy Beckett, a scientist who works for Hotchkiss Industries located in Beacon Heights and Caitlin Park-Lewis’s boyfriend.
SL: With the huge success and fan base of the original Pretty Little Liars series, did you have any reservations about joining The Perfectionists?
GTK: No reservations whatsoever, it was an incredibly exciting opportunity to be part of something with a built in audience, whilst at the same time being a new venture and project with potential.
SL: What was it like to have Sasha Pieterse and Janel Parrish from the original Pretty Little Liars series on set of The Perfectionists?
GTK: In many ways it was like receiving a stamp of authenticity. Having them there made the show officially part of the PLL world. The best part of it was the fact that they are truly lovely people and it was an honour to work with them.
SL: Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists touches on the expectations to be “perfect” in today’s society. How do you feel that social media, especially for the younger generations, has played into the perception of perfection vs. reality?
GTK: I think it totally warps the idea of reality and has subsequently changed it. I think it's a complete nuisance if I’m honest, for mental health, for one’s own self esteem and for how we perceive the world. I dread to think of the impact its having on the generations who have and will be born into a social media world, it's all they know. I’m lucky enough to have had many years without it and can consequently remember times when I didn’t care who was following me or worrying about what picture will get most likes, it was bliss. And it sounds like nonsense when I put it like that but lets be honest, if you’re on social media, you worry about that stuff, and there’s nothing real or genuine about it. It’s a self generating comparison engine where we are allowed to advertise a perfect version of ourselves with the feedback being immediate. I constantly think about getting off social media entirely for my own sake. There’s a world outside of it that i’m very happy to explore and be part of.
SL: Before acting, you worked in finance in London. Were you involved in the performing arts as a child, or was a career in acting never really something that you thought of yourself doing?
GTK: I was incredibly shy growing up so any sort of performance in front of people was out of the question. Even in my teenage years I would get terrible anxiety if I had to read out loud in class and would avoid it at all costs. Isn’t it funny how things work out. Now I cant get enough of it.
SL: You said in a recent interview, “You’re never going to be successful in what you do unless you love it.” What advice would you give someone who is afraid to take the risks to pursue a career that they are passionate about or to someone who might be ready to give up pursuing their dream career?
GTK: There is a wonderful poem by Marianne Williamson which perfectly answers this question, it’s called Our Deepest Fear. My favourite line in it is; “Your playing small does not serve the world”, and it’s so true. I highly recommend anyone pondering these questions to read it.
SL: You’re relatively new to the acting scene. Who are your biggest influences in the industry?
GTK: My biggest influence in the industry will always be Sir Mark Rylance, who I wrote to just as I was starting out and was gracious enough to reply with some very wise words which I repeat to myself every day. The man exudes grace and is a constant guiding light for me, his performances particularly on stage have undoubtedly changed my life.
SL: At this point in your career, the world seems to be your oyster. What’s next?
GTK: Saying it is my oyster is very generous, I’m not sure I agree. I’m owed nothing in the acting world and don’t pretend I am. I work hard every day and I’m just hopeful it pays off. It's worked for me so far.