Everybody in the studio is blown away by Karen. With her porcelain doll-like features, cinnamon complexion and smile, it’s easy to see why Bill Cosby hand-picked Ms David to star alongside him in a TV advert when she was just 6-years-old.
‘I remember him making me laugh so much my cheeks were sore,’ says the performer. Born
in Shillong, at the foot of the Himalayas and raised in Toronto, Canada even at six Karen (who is now 23) knew that she wanted to be an entertainer. It wasn’t luck or pushy parents that landed her the TV gig – she explains how she made the call to the casting director herself. ‘Every Sunday religiously my father would sit at the breakfast table and read us the current events. He wanted my sister and I to have these Mensa brains. It was so lame and boring that one day I got distracted and I saw the casting call.’‘I remember him making me laugh so much my cheeks were sore,’ says the performer. Born in Shillong, at the foot of the Himalayas and raised in Toronto, Canada even at six Karen (who is now 23) knew that she wanted to be an entertainer. It wasn’t luck or pushy parents that landed her the TV gig – she explains how she made the call to the casting director herself. ‘Every Sunday religiously my father would sit at the ‘I tore out the paper and snuck into my parent’s room and I picked up the phone. I happened to get the casting director on the phone and I remember saying: ‘Hi, my name’s Karen David. I’m six-years old and I want to be in the Bill Cosby commercial.’
The casting director went on to ask for her parents and a scared Karen put down the phone as she told her: ‘I’m not allowed to speak to strangers’. Luckily she was able to call back to speak with them. ‘They freaked out that I spoke to a stranger, but they were also surprised and taken back that I was serious about acting. So they took me to the casting. I got the commercial, and that in turn started everything off.’
Karen would have loved to be a famous child actress, but her parents insisted that she just be a kid and not delve too much into the showbiz world full-time just yet. While you have teenagers in the entertainment industry today like Souljah (who at 17 said he’s not going back to school), Karen’s upbringing was different. She put her education first, concentrating on her love of music and acting.
At 17, she won a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston to study jazz and gospel. A few years later, she moved to London to study at The Guildford School of acting. ‘When I graduated, I was going to move to New York but I got a lot of offers from agents and a lot of great work so I decided to make a home here.’
Big screen goddess
During the 8 years she has lived in London the Asian star has bagged roles in TV shows Desi DNA, Top Buzzer, Holby City and The Colour of Magic. She has also appeared in the movies Batman Begins, Flight of Fury and most recently The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior, where she plays the lead. Before you jump to conclusions and start to imagine steamy love scenes with Karen and The Rock she explains that it’s the prequel, so he isn’t even in it. ‘The movie explains how and why The Rock’s character Mathias became a Scorpion King,’ she explains. ‘You also see the relationship he has with his childhood friend Layla, which I play. There’s lots of adventure, comedy, sword fighting and stunts. It’s a good family movie.’
The film was shot on location in Cape Town, South Africa and if you watch the E4 series One Tree Hill you may recognised her handsome male lead Michael Copon. ‘He’s a really funny guy. We had some good times,’ she says. Even The Rock managed to come down to the set. ‘I think he was out there filming another movie, so he popped his head in a few times.’ The former wrestler isn’t the only Hollywood fighter that she’s had the opportunity to work with. She’s also acted alongside Steven Segal. ‘He’s a legend isn’t he?’ she states, as she giggles her Canadian accent becomes stronger. ‘I get MySpace messages ‘till this day saying ‘My God I can’t believe you acted with him’. Watching him do his fight scenes, he’s still got it. He’s sharp. I wouldn’t want to be on the other side of his punches.’
But what of Karen’s music? ‘Its exotic pop,’ she says as she attempts to defy her sound. ‘I wanted to go back to my roots, to my mum and dad’s heritage to create an exotic fusion so I went back to India to record.’ Teaming Asian flavours with contemporary pop, Karen recently gained recognition for her music when she was nominated for Best Asian Female Artist and Best Newcomer at the UK Asian Music Awards. Her forthcoming album Me Versus Me will be released later this year.
Exploring her homeland
Although she may be creating music in India she is also eager to explore the country of her birth while she’s there. ‘India is such a beautiful but mysterious place. I think that there is so much to discover there. It’s very humbling going there and its kind of bittersweet because it’s the place where I was born, but I grew up in Canada so I don’t know much about it. I feel just as much as a foreigner as anybody else.’ Her music and acting skill has given her the opportunity to work alongside Bollywood royalty Aishwarya Rai and Naveen
Andrews when she was cast in a supporting role in hard-hitting movie Provoked, which is about the lives of abused women.
From Bollywood to Hollywood, Karen has been blessed with stunning and unique looks that allow her to act in both worlds. Beautiful? Absolutely. Talented? No doubt. Charismatic? Indeed. Yes, she has all the attributes to become a worldwide star, so remember where you saw first. She’s already gone to Hollywood, she now just needs to work herself up to the A List, but the question is, is she ready for the challenge?
‘There are no set rules to make it in the acting game,’ she says. ‘You just have to be yourself and have undying faith. Sometimes I think my dreams are a curse but I’m grateful to God for blessing me with a family that are supportive especially when the pay cheques don’t come in.’ It seems whatever the results Karen is definitely ready to play for the big time.
Words by Annika Allen | Photographer Azza, www.myspace.com/azzaphotographer
Make-up, Pandemonium Make-up Artistry, www.myspace.com/cr8pandemonium
Hair, Nibras Alwasiti, www.myspace.com/nibras_themakeupartist
Styling, Neesha Sharma, www.myspace.com/luminary_london
The Scorpion King: Rise Of A Warrior is released on 19th August