Alexa King is a photographer and filmmaker based out of Nashville and Washington D.C. She attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts until she left to work on set in the film industry in New Orleans. Over the next few years, King began to shoot photographs inspired by the cinema, often exploring the thematic elements of Americana, suburbia, and rodeo life. Alongside her filmmaker brother, King just co-directed her first feature film, Fishbowl, in her hometown.
I was born in Washington D.C. I grew up in Maryland and just recently moved from New Orleans to Nashville. The funny thing is that growing up, I always loved fashion and film, but I never really had an interest in cameras. I didn’t think I was technical enough, so I didn’t pick one up till I was 22. I went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for Film, as I thought I wanted to be a producer, but soon felt a little creatively stifled in the city during my sophomore year. This led me to drop out and move to New Orleans on a whim, where my mother was working on the HBO show Treme. I worked there for six years as a prop assistant on set in the union. I was working on Terminator 3 and tore my achilles tendon on set while pushing an extremely heavy cart up a hill. I was out of work, barely mobile, and creatively unstimulated for six months. My boyfriend at the time got me a film camera to pass the time. I began to fall in love with the camera and found my place as an artist over the next few years.
I always had a fascination with motels: who’s inside, what are they doing, where have they been, and where are they going. So the first thing I started shooting was “Girls in Motels,” my series of women.
I come from a film/storytelling background, so I became fascinated by the people in my photos. They are not props—they are characters with secrets, emotions, and lives of their own. I grew up in suburbia and find there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. It’s the same with America; I’ve taken numerous road trips through the South and the West and am always so amazed by how beautiful, rustic, and raw our country is.
I fell in love at the rodeo a year and a half ago, which has certainly influenced my life. I was a city girl going to rodeos, hanging with cowboys, eating corn dogs, and two-stepping. It made me see people in a different way. They accepted me and welcomed me in, and it made me less judgmental even though I wasn’t quite used to the lifestyle….Vegas was also so inspiring to me. The lights, the neon, the tired faces, the showgirls, the Elvis impersonators, It was heaven!
Fishbowl is my filmmaker brother (Stephen Kinigopoulos) and my debut feature. It started as one of my photoshoots…. It’s about a widowed man, Rick Simon, taking care of his three teenage daughters, Belle, Rachel, and Jessa, in a judgmental small town full of secrets. Down on his luck, he becomes obsessed with a televangelist on television preaching that the rapture is coming. Rick Simon (the father) struggles to convince the town and his daughters that the end is upon them, unless they save themselves and act purely. We shot in our hometown of Howard County, Maryland: in one of our high schools, neighbors’ homes, private schools, and many churches in towns nearby.
Some of my favorite artists are photographers Nan Goldin, Bettina Rheims, cinematographer Kate Arizmendi, and filmmaker Reed Morano.
My work, especially my photography, is pretty sexual or at least just slightly off and uncomfortable. If you’re not pushing some envelope or questioning something, then what’s the point?
Next up, I’m hitting the road with Stephen and Levi, finishing our documentary on my dear friend and legendary 80-year-old Rodeo Clown Lecile Harris. We’ll be interviewing his wonderful wife of 60 years and best friend, the incredible Loretta Lynn, in Collierville Tennessee.★