Growing up on both sides of the Atlantic, this week’s stunning woman to watch is classically trained in both acting and swordplay. She has appeared on London’s famed West End in both mainstream and Bollywood musicals; it is as much of a pleasure to listen to her voice as it is to watch her in action.
Along with her longtime dedication to charity work, Karen David steals the scene with her bright almond eyes, brilliant smiles and sultry curves. Known to audiences for her appearances as a reporter in Batman Begins and kicking some ass in The Scorpion King 2, our newest Femme on Fire is certainly a force to contend with.
Currently appearing on FOX’s hit series Touch, Karen stars as Kayla Graham, a call worker in London whose unknowingly filmed karaoke performance becomes a viral sensation, while she unexpectedly becomes a catalyst for a life-or-death situation with a stranger on the phone.
Karen sat down with us to chat about her role, working with music-producing superstars Wendy and Lisa, and how leather bikinis get in her way.
Playboy.com: Tell us about your role on Touch; will we see you again next season?
David: I hope so! The writers are going back to the drawing board right now. I’m keen to know where they take the Kayla storyline. It’s so nice to have a character who’s so well liked.
Playboy.com: How did you relate to Kayla going into this?
David: It’s definitely not the call center job, I’m thankful for that [laughs]. I knew her wanting to sing was so genuine. It wasn’t about becoming a big pop star. It’s about doing something that she loves to do and brings her so much happiness. That, I can completely identify with. That’s what I’ve been doing essentially since I was a little girl; I wanted to sing, make records, and I wanted to act. I really had to start from nothing and become something.
Playboy.com: What was it like to re-imagine Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” for the show with Wendy and Lisa of Prince fame?
David: I was so excited! I was beside myself; I was like “the Wendy and Lisa behind Prince and The Revolution?” When I met them it was like film royalty in front of me, Purple Rain! We weren’t going to do exactly what Bob Marley does because…that’s what Bob Marley does and he’s a legend! Wendy and Lisa took a completely different direction with the song. When I went for my audition, I chose to sing the song in a very cornbaby kind of way, Norah Jones-y kind of style. It was exactly what (Director Tim Kring) was looking for. It was an honor to work with them.
Playboy.com: You’re out at a pub with some mates during a karaoke night; what would you sing?
David: I’m a very cheap date because I don’t drink much. One glass of wine and I’m gone. I start thinking I can sing rock songs…like Bon Jovi songs my mum would sing all the time. Or Duran Duran, break out the ’80s with my sister – “Reflex” or “Hungry like the Wolf.” Embarrassing moments like those [laughs]. That’s what happens when I drink one glass of wine…
Playboy.com: What happens when you have two?
David: [Laughs] Oh god, it goes to a more somber note. Like The Carpenters. It becomes more of a comedy act, very Bridget Jones. The standard is “That’s What Friends Are For,” isn’t that what everybody sings when they get up? [Laughs]
Playboy.com: You’ve played some risqué and sexy roles such as in The Scorpion King 2 and Strike Back, or getting involved with your teacher in Waterloo Road; what’s been the most exciting part of these badass roles?
David: I’m lucky to have played a diverse range of roles. When I was in college I was involved with fencing and sword fighting, don’t ask me why, but I was a tiny girl. I had this inner little freak in me that absolutely loved playing with swords and daggers. I don’t know if that’s scary or not, but I absolutely loved it. The fact that I had to wear leather in both shows [laughs]. I couldn’t eat much with a leather bikini or a tight corset.
Playboy.com: Did you have a preference?
David: Ha! It was bloody amazing. Forget English breakfast, it was all about porridge and fruit in order to squeeze into those tiny outfits. I always seem to get stuck with these formfitting costumes that prevented me from eating my English breakfast!
Playboy.com: Tell us about your new EP, Dust to Stars. What influenced it?
David: What’s really special about this EP is after playing Kayla in Touch, it really cemented the direction I should be going in. That style, that Kayla Graham is where my heart and head was at – very serendipitous. When you’re around such amazing people…it’s a constant inspiration, which gave me such an amazing energy. A good, positive, inspiring sort energy that made me want to write songs that stemmed from my experiences from there; from nothing to something.
Playboy.com: What was your first Playboy?
David: It’s funny; growing up, my parents told me all sorts of stories about Hugh Hefner. Not exactly what he did [laughs], but this cool man who had beautiful women around him all the time! Finally when I got older my mum and I were looking at the vintage Playboys and they were so beautiful! When I did Couples Retreat, I was invited by Hugh to come over for a Sunday BBQ at the Playboy Mansion! I have a picture with him – it was so surreal, but such an experience. It’s one I will never forget.
Dust to Stars releases June 17. Follow Karen on Twitter @KarenDavid