Everyone knows the story of boy meets girl. They fall in love and live happily ever after. But of course, everyone is also aware that the “happily ever after” part is generally the stuff of dreams with love becoming more complicated as life unfolds. No other couple knows this more than Joey Mead King and her transwoman spouse Angelina, formerly known as Ian King.
It has almost been a year since the Kings shot to the top of the news in July 2016 when Ian—a luxury car enthusiast-entrepreneur and managing director of his late father’s popular hotel chain Victoria Court—shockingly came out on Instagram as a transgender woman. His wife, Filipino-Iranian TV personality and seasoned fashion model Joey Mead, stood firmly by his side. Ian took the name Angelina and bravely told her story with Joey’s full support.
The couple were once high society’s perfect couple who had it all—fame, fortune and good looks. Today, they still hold a prominent position as one of a few “progressive couples” not just in the Philippines but also across the region because they continue to be madly in love with each other while finding ways to adapt to their new reality.
A truly unconventional love story that deserves to be told, the Kings have just landed an eponymous part-documentary, part-reality television program on cable channel TLC, which will delve into how a marriage between a woman and a transwoman can work in this ever-changing world.
Love and family
After love, the most important factor in making an unusual marriage work out is the entire family’s support. Angelina—nicknamed Angie—had her younger brother Atticus King at the show’s preview on Monday explaining why.
“We are here as a family. Much of my thought right now is that I wish my dad was here to see this because I’m excited. I’m excited to see how something that my brother—my sister now—has been struggling with for a long time is finally resolved. I feel happy she is finally at peace [with who she is],” Atticus said in an ambush interview.
It will be remembered that Angie and Atticus King’s father Archie King died in 2015 after his private chopper crashed in a forested area of Mt. Maculot in Cuenca, Batangas. Many believe that Angie held back her identity because of her father, a prominent Chinese-Filipino businessman.
Meanwhile, according to the couple, when Angie came out, there were already a number of television offers knocking on their doors, but they believed—also with their family in mind—that their story had to be told in a particular way and most importantly at the right time.
“We didn’t want to be exploited. We’re not making any money from this. We waived our talent fee—I mean, we’re doing this to get the word out, to get the message out,” Angie told the press.
She shared it took a long time for her loved ones to accept who she is now, but because of their love and respect, she is now enjoying her new life with everyone’s support.
“If I had to, I would come out to Joey again and again. The regret would’ve been not trying to do so—of not coming out. The feeling of having her love and support–one of the most important people in my life—is huge. It gives you confidence. It makes you feel secure and safe. It makes you feel loved,” Angie related.
In response, the strong woman that is Joey Mead said, “It’s because of the love that Angie had for me [that I was able to accept the situation]. I told myself, ‘My goodness, this is someone I don’t want to lose. Someone that I really, selfishly, want to have in my life’.”
While Angie is eager to share her journey into self-discovery, she revealed she continues having to adjust to becoming a public personality.
“The hardest part of doing something like this and putting myself out there is not having privacy anymore. It’s tricky because I want to live a normal life, but now but I’m sort of the poster child for this topic,” she acknowledged.
“But it’s crazy. When did being trans become cool? But it sort of gave me hope that people can change and people can accept. We’re still trying to figure out what we did right so we can share it with other people,” Angie continued.
For Joey, their family’s message is “positivity.”
“That’s hopefully what the audience gets out of it. That it’s not really a big deal. That’s not that strange. Our relationship can work for anybody,” she insisted.
She made it clear that she is no superwoman in the whole process, admitting it was difficult to reach the point of acceptance.
“It was really hard–the last two years was hard. But I’m glad I went through that. I was throwing plates against the wall. I mean, hello, of course it’s hard. If you say, ‘I don’t want this, this is not for me,’ you’ve made a decision. But the thing is, I want her. I want to make this work. I just had to get over whatever kiyeme [issues]I had. That’s it, basically.”
With episodes ready for showing, TLC excitedly shared that “The Kings,” which they have dubbed and “inspirational series,” is gaining positive feedback this early.
“I would like to share with you everyone in TLC is very happy with this series, and the office has even decided to further invest in the program. In the next few months, we’ll continue to work with the Kings and turn this docu into a series. We will develop it together with them,” stated Rohit Tharani, Discovery Southeast Asia’s director of Content Curation.
The initial one-hour show premiers on June 22, 9 p.m. on TLC (Sky Cable Channel 62) and will take viewers on an intimate journey into the life of Angelina from the time he was still Ian King, and through his love story with Joey.
Without wanting to preempt the program’s revelations, Angie simply left this piece of advice for anyone going through what she hand Joey had to overcome: If you want to stay together, you find a way to work it out. Don’t give up. You got to try at it.”