Karen-Eileen Gordon is an American television, film, voiceover and stage actress who stepped memorably into public awareness with her completely improvised turn in the HBO comedy, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” opposite Larry David. Many projects later, her roles continue to win her global fans. Born in Philadelphia, Karen-Eileen grew up in Hollywood, Florida, where her parents founded a residential real estate company. She holds an Economics degree from Harvard, where that student body voted her “One of the Ten Funniest People” on campus, thanks to her daily-changing outgoing answering machine messages. In the voiceover universe, Karen-Eileen is an active audiobook Narrator/Producer for authors and rights holders in both the US and UK. She brought multiple Latina characters to life in the Rockstar Games video game, “Grand Theft Auto V.” Karen-Eileen is a skilled playwright with extensive experience in one-woman theatre.
Tell everyone how you were discovered and how your acting career started?
Anytime I connect with a new viewer-listener-audience member, it feels like being discovered. This job (telling powerful stories) is a bliss-fest and the job doesn’t exist without the audience. I first showed up on the public radar with my premiere gig in Los Angeles, which was an amazing improvised role with Larry David on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” People still stop me at the grocery store and want to talk about Larry and what it was like, equal parts amazing and terrifying! (Eternal shout-out to Jeff Garlin, for getting me “in that room” to audition.)
Actor/Actress you would like to work with?
The list is ginormous, wayyyyy too long to name here. I’m inspired by soooooooo many of my fellow Actor Goddesses. A cool 18 that really rock my creative world (in no particular order!): Helen Mirren, Zazie Beetz, Anna Magnani, Maggie Smith, Megan Mullally, Tiffany Haddish, Sandra Bullock, Olivia Colman, Viola Davis, Judy Dench, Kristen Wiig, Rachel Weisz, Minnie Driver, Octavia Spencer, Shirley Booth, Merritt Wever, Emma Stone and Melissa McCarthy.
Of all the roles you have played in the past, which is your favorite?
A really excellent requirement of my job is to “fall madly in love” with every character I play, so these Goddesses are all beloved friends to me, even if they’re what the world considers “dark.” I had the privilege of playing a 1959 New York dame for two seasons on the STARZ Original Drama “Magic City”, Florence Greenhouse felt like family. Show writer/creator Mitch Glazer crafted this amazing relationship between Flo and her “Boss Man” (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who played hotel owner Ike). It was insanely delicious to play.
What is your dream role and what do you feel you would bring to it?
One of my very first creative loves was (and remains) improvisation. It’s the first work I ever did in front of an audience and I’ve been fortunate to work with Producers, Directors and Writers who’ve trusted me to run free with improv-to-camera. I have several dream roles (I literally write them out and decorate them with images, a mini Vision-Board-of-sorts for each). One of them is very much in the spirit of “The Office,” with me playing the Crunchy-Granola-Woo-Woo coworker. The chick who goes to psychics, talks to Spirits, reads rune stones, has spirit guides and can have dialogues with her kitty, that kind of stuff (which, by the way, I adore In real life). Another dream role is in the horror genre. I’d love to bring to life the BadAss Goddess who is at the wrong place at the wrong time and yet manages to step up mightily to the plate and vanquish the ickies and save the world. I see my character bloodied/battered, with her loyal unusual crew surrounding her, standing atop a pile of smoldering goo-covered rubble that once was her city. Holding the head of the last ickie in the bunch in mega-triumph. HA! YESSSSSS!
What are your long-term acting goals?
I plan on doing this work until I’m 104 years old rocking a floor-length white braid, it feels like that big of a joy-jolt to me. I would say my long-term acting goal would be just that: to keep bringing powerful stories to life until I’m wrinkled like a very ancient, antique raisin and beyond. (You know…awards don’t suck. They’re not the goal for me, and they are a barometer of sorts, that the project has connected powerfully. I also aim to create the kind of stories, original content, that resonate so strongly with audiences that they manifest awards as a byproduct.)
Any upcoming projects coming up that you would like to share with everyone?
Yes! I’m attached as a lead to two features, set to go into production later this year and voiceover projects still in the “Please Do Not Discuss (or we’ll fire your butt)” category. I recently starred in two short films, both in post-production. One a political thriller and the other based on two strong, completely-opposite women from the time of King Arthur.
What brings you the most joy in life?
Connection. To the divine, to self and others, to characters and stories, to nature, to critters, the list goes on and on and the common golden thread is connection.
What’s your most embarrassing childhood memory?
Oh, my. Okay! I came out of the womb improvising. As a kid, hair brushes became microphones…towels were capes…pots were drums. One day, I decided to do an experiment with a juice glass and see if I could “stick” it to my chin with suction and pretend I had a different face. It was really fun and I was very successful and after about an hour, I had a ginormous dark purple bruise covering my entire lower face (that took two weeks to go away). Sooooo wrong!
How has your family shaped your personality and who you turned out to be?
This is a grrrreat question. When I was about six months old, my mama started using flashcards to teach me words and colorful magnetic letters on the fridge to teach me spelling (I remember giggling like a loon). As a result, I have a powerful love for written/spoken communication, which definitely drove my desire to become an actor-writer. My father instilled in me a love of learning new things and the idea that you could choose to work for yourself while being in service to others. That helped me step away from the corporate universe and stand up in my desire to be a full-time artist.
What do you want to be remembered for?
Flowing the highest energies possible (Light, Love, Unity, Peace, Compassion, Championing, Gratitude—the list is long/delicious) into every project and interaction; telling powerful stories that help my fellow groovy humans connect fully to themselves, their superpowers, one another and the planet.
How can everyone keep in contact with you on social media?
Easy! (Thank you for the yummy questions!).