orth West London born Karen Bryson is one of the UK’s leading British actresses. Her ubiquitous career continues across various multimedia platforms. Karen recently made the Queen’s Birthday Honours list 2017. She is being awarded an MBE for her services to Drama. She is currently filming Harlan Coben’s highly anticipated series Safe.
Karen last graced our TV screens in police drama series Cuffs for BBC1 as regular character Custody Sergeant Melanie Pyke.
She is probably best known for playing Avril Powell in Channel 4’s multi-award winning critically acclaimed drama Shameless.
The role saw Karen nominated for several awards including ‘Best Comedy Performance’ and ‘Best Actress’ at the 2013 MVISA awards. She won ‘Best Actress in TV’ at the Screen Nation Awards 2013.
A well respected Theatre, Film and TV actress, whose career has spanned over fifteen years. It all began when she auditioned and got into the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Her three years there compounded her need to be an actor. It was there, Karen fell in love with amazing literature and the need to tell stories. The real journey to hone her craft began – on graduating Karen received the Michael Warr award for the overall outstanding student.
After many years performing in theatres all over the country, including RST, The Other Place, The Barbican with the RSC, The Globe, Stratford East to name but a few. With plays such as Antigone, Macbeth, Beowulf and Our day out, Golden Girls. For The Royal Shakespeare Company A Winter’s Tale, La Lupa, Back to Methuselah, Comedy of Errors, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and Luminosity her first ever lead role. This was the turning point for Karen. She then won a role in a fantastic new play called Shoot to Win at Stratford East Theatre. It was a play written, directed and staring women and focused on the lives of the women in a netball team. The show traveled the country to rave reviews. This was the play that changed her career…
Her big break in TV came when a casting director in Manchester saw the Shoot Win and called Karen in to audition for Buried a groundbreaking (Bafta-winning) channel 4 drama series. Her work in Television began to gain momentum, starting with the staples of British TV shows such as The Bill, Holby, and Doctors, gaining as much experience possible. Karen went on to win roles in various dramas for ITV, the BBC and a couple of short films including the lead in ZULU 9 winner of the best short film at The Cork film festival. Then she landed a regular role in Bodies for the BBC (RTS winner and BAFTA nominated) drama. With that, her theatre work also continued to thrive with her winning leading roles in ‘On my Birthday’ and The Dead Wait’ for Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre.
Karen continued to win guest lead roles in TV shows such as Silent Witness, Torn, The Children, Between the Sheets, Coming down the mountain, Sold, Apparitions and a short silent film for Sky called Ding Dong as part of their now regular ‘silent season’ at Christmas. She also voiced the audiobook of award-winning writer Zadie Smith’s book NW, which was released in the UK and US by penguin. She recently completed the audio recording of I am China produced by Random House books.
Another string to Karen’s bow saw her produce and star in a short film called ‘Family Reunion’ overall winner of the Triforce Short Film Festival “best of the fest” award 2015. Nominated for the best short film at the MVISA awards). She has just produced a drama entitled The Block with DT Films, which she also appears in. It’s now in post-production. One of her latest film roles saw her playing one of the leads ‘Maria Adams’ in Independent Feature Film The Carrier. The film had its UK premiere at the globally renowned Raindance Film Festival. She will soon be seen in the Independent Feature Just Charlie playing Claire Robson. The Film is currently doing the film festival circuit.
Karen is now Editor of new online Female Lifestyle Magazine called Those London Chicks.
Karen said “It is an absolute honor to be recognized for my work with being awarded an MBE. I feel humbled, overwhelmed and incredibly grateful. I would love to keep learning and being challenged as an actress, to continue to make good quality work. Also to pursue other creative avenues such as my writing, producing and of course the magazine. I have always been a creative soul, as that is what drives me. As long as I can follow my creative heart, wherever that may take me…..I am blessed!”