By Stacey Yount
Beginning on January 4th, audiences were treated to the madcap, medieval, magical, musical comedy adventure Galavant on ABC. The hysterically funny show created by Dan Fogelman, with music and lyrics by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater was a big hit.
Starring as Princess Isabella is Canadian, Indian, Chinese, British, American actress/singer Karen David, whose work has been seen on the UK cult hit Bollywood Queen, BBC’s Waterloo Road, Pixelface, Provoked, Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit, Castle and the British Independent film Amar, Akbar and Tony.
I was lucky to be able to catch Karen for an interview on BollySpice.com and we had a fabulous laughter-filled conversation. Just for Masalamommas readers, we have some very special highlights as Karen talks about her character Isabella, how she hopes it will inspire girls and everything Galavant!
Karen says that from the beginning she knew that Galavant would be a life changing experience, “I saw that this show was something that was so uniquely different. I mean, it is not every day that you come across a musical comedy set in the medieval times with Disney kings Alan Menken and Glenn Slater penning the music. Then working with Dan Fogelman (creator and executive producer) the man behind big hits like Cars and Tangled and Crazy Stupid Love.”
Interestingly, Dan Fogelman originally had Jennifer Lawrence in mind for the role of Isabella, “When I saw that in the description, I laughed because I thought, ‘well I don’t look anything like her’.”
But after reading the script Karen really wanted to play this part, “I did feel like a bit of an underdog going in for it, but not in a bad way, in a really good way. I have no pressure on me. I thought, you know what, I do love this script, I do love this character Isabella so much… I’ve got nothing to lose. What the heck, I might as well as have fun with it.”
She found out she got the part on Friday the 13th in 2013, “13 is a lucky number for me now!”
“I got really teary eyed because I was relieved! (Laughs!), she revealed, “It was out of sheer relief that finally we had an answer and that answer was going to change my life! I couldn’t take it all in. It was so overwhelming.”
Reflectively she added, “I have tested for quite a few shows before. I have come so close to getting parts that didn’t happen. But in hindsight all that makes sense now, because if it meant leading up to this moment, to get a role like Isabella, it was all worth it.”
Saying she was, of course, ecstatic, it was more for the people around her that have been so supportive! “My agents who stuck by me for five years, my managers too. My husband. Then my parents who have watched me go through this journey for such a long time. The ups and downs. The twists and turns. The good times, the struggles. I was just so happy for them because of everything they have sacrificed to support me in my journey was all of sudden so worth it.”
“Honestly, this really is a dream role,” she says. “I have been very fortunate and very blessed to come this far in my career because of people like Dan who are not afraid to think out side the box and take chances. Hats off to him and ABC for casting people like me, I mean I play a Spanish princess when actually I am such a mishmash of things with my heritage.”
Karen loved this character, “Isabella is really feisty, she speaks her mind, she is not afraid of telling it like it is. She really is a refreshing take on what you would normally see on the clichés of what a princess or a Disney princess would be. I love that fact that this show takes the mick out of those clichés that we are all so used to seeing. You just expect the unexpected with this show.”
To really find her Isabella she channeled her heritage, “I was born in Shillong and it is a matrilineal society. The women are all very feisty! It is all about the women, the strength, the charisma. I thought I have got to infuse what is in my genetics, right? I have got to celebrate that now! Now is my opportunity to really celebrate that with Isabella. To make her this strong girl.”
One of the things that really struck me is that she wanted Isabella to be someone girls could look up to, “Someone hopefully that a lot of younger girls out there can be inspired by to be themselves, to love themselves, to be proud of who they are! No matter where they come from! That was something that was really important to me in creating the role of Isabella!” She went on to say that she was thrilled that she even got to sword fight: “I am a bit of a tomboy anyway so having studied fencing, and sword fighting in drama college. It was such a dream to be able too use those skills.”
Karen was also very enthusiastic about the location shoots. “We were lucky to go on these spectacular locations. I mean these were the real deal. We are talking about castles dating back to the 14th-16th century. We were at Wells Cathedral that first started being built in 700 and the one we were filming in in 1100. It is just crazy! We had the wonderful opportunity of filming all over Wales and Bristol. How could it not be inspiring for us to really rely on and then really sink our teeth into our characters together?”
The actress says the entire cast, crew, director, everyone loved doing this show, “It has just been an adventure. An amazing magical adventure. We, all of us in the cast, have had the time of our lives. We know that it such an anomaly of a show and that it doesn’t happen every day. So everyday we were on set we all brought that enthusiasm and love… everyday. That just doesn’t happen. Especially everyday. We knew we were creating something really wonderful.”
So, with how funny the material of Galavant is, both in song and in line, did they ever crack up on set? “We never could stop laughing on set. I actually think there is more gag reel than normal takes. I really hope they put out a gag reel for the fans because they are going to love it. I think what is just so heartwarming to all of us is that everyone can see how much fun we really are having on set.”
For someone who has not seen it yet, how would Karen describe Galavant? Her answer, “Oh wow, that is a great question! Galavant is a medieval comedy musical. It is something that does not happen everyday. It may not make sense to you initially, but this is when the real opportunity comes. You have to use your imagination, trust, have faith and jump into this journey along with us. It is that wonderful joyride and an adventure of imagination that you will be taken on that makes it special. If you love Monty Python, The Princess Bride, Men in Tights, Disney and if you just love a good laugh and to be silly, I think you are going to love this show because it has just got that MAGIC!”
The incredible eclectic cast also included Joshua Sasse, Luke Youngblood, Vinnie Jones, Mallory Jansen and Timothy Omundson.
To truly get the feel and flavor of Galavant check out videos and watch episodes on abc.go.com/shows/galavant
Thank you and Huzzah to Karen! We can’t wait to hear and see what you do next!
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