Have you been watching ‘All American: Homecoming’?
We were already huge fans of ‘All American,’ so when we learned Simone Hicks (Geffri Maya) would be heading to Atlanta to attend a fictional HBCU, Bringston University, we were all in. Little did we know we’d quickly be falling for a brand new character in the All American universe named Nathaniel — who is pretty much the non-binary baddie in Simone’s new squad, perfecting the trifecta of Simone and her friend Keisha (Netta Walker).
Expertly played by Rhoyle Ivy King, Nathaniel is quick-witted and stylish, always ready to serve a look or help Simone or Keisha slay on campus. Rhoyle (who uses He/Him/They pronouns) was born in Fort Worth, TX and raised in Houston and Kansas City before attending college in New York City. While Rhoyle credits Angel Dumott Schunard in “Rent: The Musical” as the role that changed his life, he’s currently enjoying every moment of playing a fictional HBCU student.
“I would say my favorite part of Bringston is the way it challenges all of the characters to reach towards something greater than they are used to,” King told Global Grind.
During the CW TCA for ‘All American: Homecoming’, Global Grind’s Sr. Editor Janeé Bolden asked the series’ showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll about the inspiration behind Nathaniel’s character. Carroll responded that she came up with the idea while creating the backdoor pilot for the series — but it was only after meeting King that she determined Nathaniel needed to be a recurring character.
“Rhoyle came in and murdered the audition,” Carroll told Global Grind. “All of a sudden Nate grew in my head and all the things that she could do and all the ways we could make sure we’re representing the queer community at HBCUs and the real truth of what that experience is like was really born out of an inspiration of what Rhoyle brought to the original role.”
Pretty incredible right?
“I remember I could barely breathe,” Rhoyle told Global Grind about learning he’d have a recurring role on the series. “I just was so excited to know that this new family, and all of this excellence, was something she wanted me to be a part of. That I didn’t have to say goodbye, it was just the beginning.”
And what a beginning it has been. During the series’ TCA, nearly every actor on the panel heaped praise on King for bringing a HUGE presence to the set. It turns out the feelings are mutual.
“The way I love this Homecoming family is endless,” King told Global Grind. “Netta touched my heart from day one. She’s a light that’s too bright to ever be contained. I get emotional thinking about how much she means to me. It’s a friendship I’m so honored to have.”
“Geffri is my sister and is one of the best examples of leading with love in this industry,” King told Global Grind. “Sometimes I had to remind myself at work that I am in fact at work, because her spirit blankets the entire set with so much warmth you feel at home there.”
“Sylvester is like a brother and loving uncle at the same time,” King continued, referring to Sylvester Powell, who plays Bringston baseball player JR. “His heart is brighter than his smile. The way he always has a big hug waiting for me each day has sometimes given me courage on days I wasn’t feeling it.”
“Kelly is probably the funniest human being on the planet,” King said of Kelly Jenrette, who plays prized Bringston professor Amara Patterson, who is also Simone’s aunt. “The way the love of Christ comes through her has blessed me every time I’m in her presence.”
“Mitchell, the combination of his intelligence and heart every time he speaks is so moving,” Rhoyle added about ‘All American’ actor Mitchell Edwards whose character Cam Watkins also left LA for Bringston. “Every conversation we’ve had has always made my soul feel full.”
“Camille is the embodiment of joy,” Rhoyle said about actress Camille Hyde who plays Thea Mays on the series. “Her presence has always relaxed me, because she is so good about being present and in the moment.”
“Peyton seems to get funnier and funnier as time goes on,” Rhoyle added about Peyton Smith, who stars as Damon Sims on ‘All American: Homecoming.'” Most people know him for his silly IG stories but my favorite part of him is who I call “Sweet P”, and he will go above and beyond for you. Even on top of the things on his plate, he has taken time to see how I am. Reminding me he’s got my back.”
Next Rhoyle offered up his praises for Cory Hardrict, who plays Coach Marcus turner, “Cory, that man is everywhere! The way he wants all of us to be successful is so touching. He always comes to set improving in character and will have me in tears of laughter.”
For those folks who tuned in for the third episode of ‘All American: Homecoming’ this week, Nathaniel played a pivotal part in the storyline. The weight of the moment didn’t go unrecognized for King.
“When I got the script I sobbed,” Rhoyle told Global Grind. “I will never stop thanking Cam’ron Moore (the writer) for the beautiful “Keisha Shield” scene, and Netta for being the formidable actor that she is. It is the truth of myself and so many other Queer people that have a person that will go over a cliff for you, but deciding that as scary as it may be, to get to the other side, I have to learn how to take on life. Unfiltered.”
While Nkechi Okoro Carroll credits King for consistently helping her get it right with the show’s writing, he in turn expressed gratitude for the ways the showrunner and executive producer has pushed him.
“She reminded me that it’s not always about playing it safe,” Rhoyle told Global Grind. “I have to admit, that there were times that my past experiences of being Queer in this world almost limited how far I thought we could tell her story. NK was determined to push forward, to create a character that’s blazing a trail to eliminate boundaries. So Nathaniel’s future would be limitless, just like everyone else’s.”
We certainly love to see it. We’re also grateful that the Hollywood landscape has been steadily changing in recent years in regards to queer and non-binary character representation. King also acknowledged that growth in our interview.
“I’m so glad that I had shows to watch that inspired the foundations of Nathaniel,” Rhoyle told Global Grind. “The shows led me to two actors I really pulled from. Nicco Annan [‘P-Valley’s Uncle Clifford] and Michaela Jae [Pose]. They are two people that show how strong love is, who move in love every time I see them.”
We asked Rhoyle about Nathaniel’s glam for the show (the lace is always laid and the beat stays flawless) and he agreed that Nate is spoiled.
“When I tell you the hair and make-up departments on ‘Homecoming’ are the best in the business,” Rhoyle told Global Grind. “Dontay & Ryan (hair department) have outdone themselves episode after episode. Making sure that Nathaniel’s hair always reflects the excellence of the Black Queer Community, and is laid for Gawds! They pour their all into making her. Lauren (make-up) had my face BEAT every morning! I would never want to take it off. She is so phenomenal at what she does. Never forget, it always takes a team, and I’m honored to say that I worked with a team of professionals who cared about Nathaniel as much as I did.”
In fact — Rhoyle describes Nathaniel as somewhat of a dream role.
“Nathaniel is fulfilling all my dreams at the moment!” Rhoyle told Global Grind. “But I would love to play a superhero one day!
We could see that!
While it seems like Rhoyle is taking all the success in stride, he acknowledges there have been some obstacles along the way.
“Its been reminding myself that I don’t have to reduce myself to a bite-sized piece for people,” Rhoyle told Global Grind of his biggest challenge. “That I, just like everyone, get to live my truth too. I think that I’m hyper-aware of how people feel. I care about people a lot, but that doesn’t mean I need to minimize aspects of myself to make others feel comfortable.”
Wise words from a true King.
Make sure you tune in to ‘All American: Homecoming’ Monday nights at 9PM EST on the CW to watch Rhoyle do his thing!