Karen Kondazian’s career as an actor, writer and producer is as diverse as it is long. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts. At the age of eight Karen was chosen to be one of the infamous children on Art Linkletter’s Kids Say the Darndest Things. The opportunity to miss school during tapings was all it took for Karen to abandon her life’s goal of becoming a CIA spy and focus on acting.
She completed her schooling at San Francisco State College, The University of Vienna and The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA), after which she began her career in New York. Her first professional work was in the award winning production of Michael Cacoyannis’ The Trojan Women at the Circle in the Square Theatre.
Her theater career has included starring opposite Ed Harris in Sweet Bird of Youth, Richard Chamberlain in Richard II (dir. Jonathan Miller), Stacy Keach in Hamlet, (dir. Gordon Davidson), Ray Stricklyn in Vieux Carre (West Coast Premiere-Beverly Hills Playhouse, dir. Clyde Ventura, which she also produced). She also starred in Eduardo Machado’s off-Broadway play, Broken Eggs (dir. James Hammerstein).
She won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Actress in The Rose Tattoo, (in which her work as actor and producer so impressed Tennessee Williams that they became friends and he gave her carte blanche to produce any of his work in his lifetime).
Other awards and nominations include Ovation, Drama Critics Circle, LA Weekly and Garlands for, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Berkeley Rep., dir. Richard Syde), Orpheus Descending (Fountain Theatre, dir. Simon Levy), Night of the Iguana (Old Globe, dir. Jack O’Brien), Lady House Blues, Freedomland (South Coast Rep, dir. David Emmes), The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (Fountain Theatre, dir. Simon Levy), Master Class (Odyssey Theatre – LA, Lobero Theater – Santa Barbara, dir. Simon Levy).
She has appeared as series regular lead in CBS’s Shannon and guest starred in over 50 television shows and films including, TNT’s James Dean with James Franco (dir. Mark Rydell), NYPD Blue, and Frasier, Steal Big Steal Little with Alan Arkin, Andy Garcia, Yes Giorgio with Luciano Pavarotti.
Karen is a lifetime member of the Actors Studio and a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. She is also a member of Women in Film. She occasionally teaches at the Lee Strasberg School of Theater and Film in Hollywood.
Kondazian is an award-winning novelist. Her debut novel, The Whip, won the USA News Award for best Historical Fiction. It was featured on the cover of Publishers Weekly (March 26, 2012). She is also the author of the best-selling book The Actors Encyclopedia of Casting Directors, with a foreword by Richard Dreyfuss. Her column “Sculpting Your Own Career” appeared in L.A. STAGE, BackStage, and DramaLogue.