Joey King Calls Holocaust Tale “We Were the Lucky Ones” 'Deeply Personal': Some Nights 'It Was Really Hard' (Exclusive)

"I do feel lucky to be part of a show that celebrates Jews,” the actress tells PEOPLE of her new Hulu series

<p>Courtesy of Hulu</p> Joey King in

Courtesy of Hulu

Joey King in 'We Were the Lucky Ones'

Joey King steps back in time in We Were the Lucky Ones, portraying a Jewish woman whose family seeks refuge during the Holocaust.

King, 24, identifies as Jewish but tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue that she doesn’t consider herself “a religious person.”

“I don't know exactly what I believe in,” she explains. “I'm still figuring that out. But I do feel a really loving tie to my Judaism. It's the tradition that is my favorite part, because I always say I love all the holidays and all the traditions because it's just a reason to get together with my family.”

Related: We Were the Lucky Ones Author Georgia Hunter Felt ‘Like My Ancestors Were There With Me’ on Set of New TV Series (Exclusive)

Still, King found working on a story centered around her religion to be gratifying.

“I do feel lucky to be part of a show that celebrates Jews,” she says. “I was always really proud to be who I am, but working on a show where it's the theme 24/7, you are dealing with this heavy subject matter and your own background tied with it, it was a really beautiful thing.”

The actress acknowledges that the show’s heavy subject “pulls at your heart in a different way” than other projects she’s worked on.

“There were some nights where it was really hard, and I would call my sisters or my husband or my mom and just talk through what the day was like, call my husband on FaceTime while we watch a comedy special together on FaceTime or something like that,” the Kissing Booth star says. “That was surprising for me 'cause I'm usually very good at separating them. Obviously, my ancestry has a big tie to that, so it was a very deeply personal set to be on.”

<p>Vlad Cioplea/Hulu</p> Joey King in 'We Were the Lucky Ones'

Vlad Cioplea/Hulu

Joey King in 'We Were the Lucky Ones'

We Were the Lucky Ones, based on Georgia Hunter's book by the same name, filmed for seven months, and sometimes, King says she and her castmates “really needed breaks of humor and comedy.” At one point, King turned on a Pixar movie with her costar Eva Feiler to decompress.

“One weekend we were just like, ‘We need to watch Finding Nemo this weekend. We just need to,’” King recalls. “She came over and we made a cheese board. We just needed those nice moments with each other.”

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Despite its challenges, King calls being on set her “happy place.”

“The job is my favorite thing in the world,” she says. “I love what I do so much, so for me, all I really want to do is just be around for a long time and keep working. I hope I'm still acting until the day that I'm on my deathbed.”

Marcos Cruz/Netflix 'The Kissing Booth 2' stars (from left) Jacob Elordi, Joey King, Joel Courtney and Meganne Young
Marcos Cruz/Netflix 'The Kissing Booth 2' stars (from left) Jacob Elordi, Joey King, Joel Courtney and Meganne Young

King, who started acting at age 4 in commercials, recognizes that not all child stars transition successfully to adult careers.

“There was many opportunities for me to go a different direction with my life, that would've been not a good direction,” the L.A. native says. “Those opportunities, unfortunately, presented themselves many times, but, my mom and my sisters and my grandma made me feel really safe and protected. I care about their opinion of me so much, and I always wanted to make them proud. They were really my grounding force.”

The Emmy nominee says life changed overnight after the first Kissing Booth movie came out in 2018.

“People were looking at me I was a representation of an era for themselves and for their lives, which was really special,” King says. “This movie became this pop culture phenomenon, and it was insane.”

Related: Logan Lerman and Fiancée Ana Corrigan Enjoy Date Night as They Attend We Were the Lucky Ones Premiere

Now, King hopes her latest project, We Were the Lucky Ones, makes an equal impact.

“I really hope people take away from this show is what we all took away from the experience of filming it, [which] was: family is everything,” King says. “A family's fight for survival and seeing all the ups and downs they go through during this horrible, horrible time in history is so moving and so touching. Hold space in your heart for people that you don't know what they're going through. Be compassionate and don't let the same things happen.”

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We Were the Lucky Ones is out now on Hulu.

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