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Karen Shenaz David[1] (born 15 April 1979[2][3] or 1980[4]) is an Indo-Canadian actress, singer and songwriter best known for portraying Princess Isabella Maria Lucia Elizabetta of Valencia in ABC's fairytale-themed musical-comedy television series, Galavant, as well as Francesca "Cesca" Montoya in the BBC television series Waterloo Road and Layla in the American action film The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior. She starred as Angela in the ITV television series Cold Feet and plays Princess Jasmine (from Aladdin) in the American television series Once Upon a Time.

Karen David
Karen David by Gage Skidmore.jpg
David at the 2017 Phoenix Comicon to promote Once Upon a Time
Karen Shenaz David

(1979-04-15) April 15, 1979 (age 40) or (1980-04-15) April 15, 1980 (age 39)
ResidenceVancouver, British Columbia, Canada
OccupationActress, singer, songwriter
Years active1999–present
Carl Ryden (m. 2013)

David also starred in Pixelface, a CBBC children's television series, where she plays Alexia, the glamorous legend hunter.

She currently has a recurring role on The CW's Legacies as Emma, a guidance counselor and witch.


Early lifeEdit

David was born in Shillong, Meghalaya, India,[5] of what she calls "Chinese, Khasi and a sliver of Jewish heritage".[6] Her mother is Khasi and half Chinese and her father is a Jewish Indian.[7] She was raised in Canada and then at age 17, David moved to London to study at the Guildford School of Acting.[6]



Upon finishing drama school, David joined the original cast of the West End musical Mamma Mia!. She made her professional acting debut as part of the ensemble and as understudy of Ali and Lisa. A. R. Rahman, who had been invited to see the show by the director Shekhar Kapur, asked David to assist him and Don Black in the development of the material for the Bollywood-themed musical Bombay Dreams. She performed songs on the show's US and Canada tour, and continued collaborating with Rahman at his Panchathan Record Inn and AM Studios in Chennai, India.[8]

She appeared in two short television videos, Dancers: The Trailer (2002), playing the role of Jenny, and The Paper Round (2002), playing the role of a policewoman. She then landed a role in the musical Bollywood Queen (2003), as a member of the R&B band at the story's center.[9][10] Through 2004 and 2005, she played Scarlet in MTV's Top Buzzer.

David played Lyla, a main character in the London-based film Take 3 Girls (2006). Other work during this time includes Steven Seagal's Flight of Fury (2007) as Barnes' Operational Soldier Flanders, The Colour of Magic (2008) as Liessa, the Dragonlady, and The Legend of Dick and Dom (2009) as Fairy Frampton. David appeared as the female lead, Layla, in The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior (2008), filmed in Cape Town, South Africa.[11][12][13][14]

In September 2010, David played the Spanish teacher, Francesca "Cesca" Montoya, in series six of BBC One's drama, Waterloo Road. While Waterloo Road was still airing, David landed the role of legend hunter Alexia Alderton in Pixelface, a CBBC children's comedy series about six video game characters and what they do when they are not inside their games. The second series aired on 3 January 2012.[15]

David appeared on American television with a guest role on the Fox series Touch in 2012, playing Kayla Graham. On the episode she performed the song "Three Little Birds", which was then released as a soundtrack single with Wendy & Lisa by 20th Century Fox TV Records on 28 February 2012.[16]

In February 2013, David appeared in the two-part episode "Target" of the ABC TV series Castle, in the USA. David played Sara El-Masri, daughter of Egyptian tycoon, Anwar El-Masri.[17] Whilst filming these episodes, David and a stuntman were injured when the door to the moving van they were in failed to close properly. David was placed in a neck brace, while the stuntman sustained serious head injuries.[18][19]

David has reappeared on US televisions, as "Princess Isabella Maria Lucia Elizabetta of Valencia", in the ABC television series Galavant, which premiered on 4 January 2015, for a four-week extravaganza.[17]


Karen David
Background information
Birth nameKaren Shenaz David
Born (1979-04-15) April 15, 1979 (age 40) or (1980-04-15) April 15, 1980 (age 39)
Shillong, Meghalaya, India
Occupation(s)Actress, singer, songwriter
Years active1999–present

David released her first single, "It's Me (You're Talking To)", in 2003, when she was signed to BMG Music. This single was a top 10 airplay hit in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.[20]

She collaborated with A. R. Rahman on the main theme song for the film Provoked in 2006. After working alongside Rahman to produce the soundtrack for this movie, she found herself back with him in his Chennai studio, in 2007, to write and record the song, "Alive".[21] The following year she released her first EP, The Live Sessions EP.[22] In 2009 she released her next EP, Magic Carpet Ride.[23]

In May 2010, David released the single "Hypnotize", along with three mixes and a Hypnotize Desi Mix EP.[24] The following year she released the album The Girl in the Pink Glasses. 20th Century Fox TV Records released "Three Little Birds", as sung by Kayla Graham (David), on Touch, on 28 February 2012.

In 2013 David released the EP Dust to Stars, on which she collaborated with songwriter-producers, Stefan Skarbek, Carl Ryden, Boots Ottestad, Adam Argyle and Martin Brammer.[25]

Charity workEdit

David is active in Designers Against Aids,[26] the SOS Children's Villages Foundation,[27] and Breast cancer awareness, for which she did a fundraiser fashion show for London Fashion Week at The Dorchester Hotel.[when?]

She produced a T-shirt to raise money for ActionAid's PoverTee Day, which was auctioned off on 18 June 2010.[28] In December 2010, David released a charity Christmas EP, My Christmas List, to raise money for the housing and homelessness charity Shelter.[29]

Along with others, David painted a self-portrait to help raise funds for Face Britain, a project of The Prince's Trust Foundation.[30]

Personal lifeEdit

In mid-2013, she married Swedish songwriter and music producer Carl Ryden at La Venta Inn in Palos Verdes, California.[31]


Year Title Role
2016 The Tiger Hunter Ruby Iqbal
2015 Amar, Akbar & Tony Meera
2014 Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Penn
2012 Red Lights Dana
2009 Couples Retreat Spa Attendant
2008 The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior Layla
The Colour of Magic Liessa
2007 Flight of Fury Barnes's Operational Soldier Flanders
2006 Take 3 Girls Lyla
Provoked Asha
2005 Batman Begins Courthouse Reporter No. 1
2003 Bollywood Queen Neeta
Year Title Role Notes
2019 Fear the Walking Dead Grace Main Cast (season 5)[32]
2018 Timeless Young Denise Christopher Episode: "The Day Reagan Was Shot"
2018–present Legacies Emma Tig Recurring
2018 Criminal Minds Special Agent Mary Meadows 2 episodes:
"Believer" (season 13: episode 22)
"300" (season 14: episode 1)
2016 Cold Feet Angela Zubayr
2016–17 Once Upon a Time Princess Jasmine[33] Recurring (9 episodes)
2015–16 Galavant Princess Isabella Series regular
2013 Castle Sara El-Masri 2 episodes:
"Target" (season 5: episode 15)
"Hunt" (season 5: episode 16)
2012 Touch Kayla Graham 1 episode
2011–12 Pixelface Alexia Main role, 26 episodes
2011 Strike Back: Project Dawn Barmaid 2 episodes:
"Project Dawn #1" (season 2: episode 1)
"Project Dawn #2" (season 2: episode 2)
2010–11 Waterloo Road Francesca "Cesca" Montoya Regular role, 20 episodes
2009 The Legend of Dick and Dom Fairy Frampton 1 episode
2004 Top Buzzer Scarlet 1 episode
2003 Holby City Eve Hotton 1 episode
TV/Video shorts
Year Title Role Notes
2002 Dancers: The Trailer Jenny
The Paper Round Police Woman
Year Title Role Notes
2008 The Making of The Scorpion King 2: The Rise of a Warrior (video documentary short) Herself
2005 Eureka (commercial) Police Woman
2003 The Making of Bollywood Queen (video documentary) Herself

Music videos and live performancesEdit

Music videosEdit

Date Song Title
Aug 2013 Dust to Stars on YouTube
July 2013 Daydreamer on YouTube
Jun 2011 Superheroes on YouTube
Apr 2010 Hypnotize on YouTube
Jun 2009 Magic Carpet Ride on YouTube
Jun 2007 Alive on YouTube
2003 It's Me (You're Talking To) on YouTube
2000 Higher and Higher on YouTube

Remixes/radio editsEdit

Year Song Title
Sep 2010 Hypnotize : The Almighty Mix on YouTube
Sep 2010 Hypnotize : The Definitive Radio Mix on YouTube
Jul 2009 Magic Carpet Ride : Flavasia Desi Mix on YouTube
Jul 2009 Magic Carpet Ride : Radio edit on YouTube

Live performancesEdit

Date Song Title Location
23 August 2013 Superheroes on YouTube St Pancras Old Church
23 August 2013 Kaleidoscope on YouTube St Pancras Old Church
23 August 2013 Heartstrings on YouTube St Pancras Old Church
23 August 2013 Connected on YouTube St Pancras Old Church
23 August 2013 Dust to Stars on YouTube St Pancras Old Church
7 June 2011 Superheroes on YouTube Soho Theatre London
7 June 2011 Slow Motion on YouTube Soho Theatre London
7 June 2011 Pinky Square on YouTube Soho Theatre London
7 June 2011 Tom, Dick or Harry on YouTube Soho Theatre London
7 June 2011 Chinese Whispers on YouTube Soho Theatre London
31 March 2011 Superheroes The London Canal Cafe
30 November 2010 Pink Glasses on YouTube Rich Mix London
30 November 2010 Hypnotize on YouTube Rich Mix London
30 May 2010 Hypnotize Indig02 Arena
1 June 2008 Pink Glasses on YouTube Wychwood Festival
Jan 2008 Magic Carpet Ride on YouTube Royal Festival Hall


Date Song Title
Feb 2012 Touch – "Three Little Birds" on YouTube
Dec 2010 Silent Night (ft. Navin Kundra) on YouTube
Dec 2010 Baby It's Cold Outside (ft. Philip Martin Brown) on YouTube
Apr 2010 Hypnotize on YouTube
May 2009 Magic Carpet Ride on YouTube
Mar 2009 The Chennai Sessions on YouTube


  1. ^ Karen David [@KarenDavid] (23 March 2011). "@S471M Shenaz is my middle name. :)" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 4 January 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2017 – via Twitter.
  2. ^ Karen David [@KarenDavid] (15 April 2010). "TEAM KD - hey it is Karen David's birthday today!" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 4 January 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2017 – via Twitter.
  3. ^ Christie, Janet (10 September 2016). "Karen David on joining established cast of Cold Feet". The Scotsman. Edinburgh, Scotland. Archived from the original on 4 January 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2017. Born in Shillong, India in 1979, to a Chinese-Khasi mother and Indian father, David was brought up in Toronto.
  4. ^ "The 7 Most Exciting Newcomers on TV This Season". Elle. United States. 7 January 2015. Archived from the original on 9 January 2015. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  5. ^ "Karen David Interview". 16 June 2008. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Karen David goes from Waterloo Road to exotic pop." Wandsworth Guardian. UK. 17 September 2010. Archived from the original on 7 January 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2014. ...Karen David, 31.
  7. ^ "Waterloo Road star Karen David on blockbusters, bullies and Bollywood". London Evening Standard. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Multi Talented Karen David is Provoked". Asiance Magazine. Archived from the original on 8 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  9. ^ "Close-Up Film Feature". Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  10. ^ "Bollywood Queen – Movie info: cast, reviews, trailer on". 22 February 1999. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  11. ^ Hainsworth, Jay (19 August 2008). "She puts the "sting" back in Scorpion King". IGN.
  12. ^ Sciarretto, Amy (19 August 2008). "Karen David of 'The Scorpion King 2'". ARTISTdirect.
  13. ^ Hoffman, Jordan (18 August 2008). "Karen David Fights!". UGO.
  14. ^ Kirkland, Bruce (18 August 2008). "Scorpion King 2 interview". Jam.
  15. ^ "Pixelface – Series 2 – Episode Guide". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  16. ^ Fox Broadcasting (28 February 2012). Touch-"Three Little Birds" ('Making of' video). Fox Broadcasting. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  17. ^ a b "[main page]". Karen David Official Website. Retrieved 2 February 2014.(subscription required)
  18. ^ "'Waterloo Road' actress Karen David lands 'Castle' role". Digital Spy. 15 January 2013. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  19. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (25 January 2013). "UPDATE: Seriously Injured 'Castle' Stuntman Slowly Improving". Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  20. ^ "Karen David". 15 April 1979. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  21. ^ [1] Archived 2 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ [2] Archived 7 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ [3] Archived 1 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Karen David set to 'Hypnotize' fans in BBC's Waterloo Road". Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  25. ^ Akeela Bhattay (6 September 2013). "Dust to Stars | In Conversation With Brit/Canadian Talent, Karen David". Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  26. ^ "New Friend of DAA: Karen David". Designers Against AIDS. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  27. ^ "Karen David's Charity Pledge". Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  28. ^ "Karen David | Fashionista Barbie". Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  29. ^ "Karen David set to release her new EP My Christmas List – | News, Music Videos, Interviews, Bollywood, Bhangra, Urban". 13 December 2010. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  30. ^ "Karen David". Face Britain. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  31. ^ "Exclusive interview: actress Karen David chats to HELLO! Online about her wedding". Hello!. 18 July 2013.
  32. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray (5 March 2019). "'Fear The Walking Dead' Adds Karen David As Series Regular". Deadline.
  33. ^ "Once Upon a Time casts Galavant star as Princess Jasmine". 23 July 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2016.

External linksEdit