Karen Abercrombie is an award-winning actress and independent film producer. She is best remembered for her award-winning portrayal of the passionate 80-year-old prayer warrior, Miss Clara, in the Kendrick Brothers film, "War Room."
Karen has guest starred on such TV shows as "Saved by The Bell," "Vampire Diaries," "Ally McBeal," and the OWN series, "Delilah." In 2018, Karen formed Earth Mother Entertainment LLC, an independent film production company with their first film, "Discarded Things" playing on Amazon Prime, Pure Flix, YouTube TV and other streaming platforms.
Karen is starring in the rom-com "Heaven Sent" that shares the stories of three couples at different stages of life as they journey through finding love, hope and joy after loss. Karen stars alongside of Charlene Tilton ("Dallas"), and J. Leon Pridgen II ("Discarded Things") streaming now on Pure Flix.
We caught up with Karen in between projects to chat about her current role and what drives her creativity.
Karen you have an extensive career in film and television. What made you pursue acting?
I have always been very creative. As a child, I would gather the neighborhood kids together and create and perform scenes and plays. My imagination has, and still is, very active. I believe that my creativity...my imagination saved my life and started me on the journey that I am currently on, as I could always see my glass half full or overflowing.
Describe your character in "Heaven Sent." How did you prepare for this role?
This is an inspirational rom-com that centers on three couples all at different stages in their lives. I play Elise, who is single, and has put her life and dreams on the sideline to raise her grandson. This is not uncommon with many families whose grandparents assist in raising their grandkids. Elise has given up on love and her dreams and poured her life into taking care of her grandson. I had fun because it was my first time acting in a rom-com in a while… it had its own challenges in its own way but I had a lot of fun!
Millions remember you from the ground breaking role of Miss Clara in "War Room" - did you have any idea the audience would respond in such a supportive manner when you took that role?
Playing Miss Clara in the "War Room" movie was hands down my favorite role to date. I loosely based Miss Clara on my Aunt Vine, who was seriously on fire for the Lord! It was a wonderful challenge to make her believable and sharing her powerful, life-giving message.
What did their response tell you about the desire for positive, uplifting faith films?
Through my "War Room" experience, I came to realize the power of good faith-based entertainment and that people really want more of it.
You have a production company - what motivated you to get behind the camera? What type of projects are you looking to produce or create? You have been in the industry for a good amount of time and starting to see more roles for people of color and diversity but some feel there needs to be more work for women of a certain age. What are your thoughts on mature women pursuing roles in front of and behind the camera?
I love that older women and older women of color are now getting work on major projects in front of and behind the camera. Our stories and experiences are important and valuable, so it gives us the opportunity to use our gifts and to authentically tell our stories that others would not normally see. Done respectfully...properly, entertainment can bring people together, as it can show that we all have so much more in common than we realize.
You grew up in a troubled home with parental substance abuse. Do you think that contributed to your ability to tell realistic but inspirational projects?
I know for sure that my childhood experiences influence some of the stories that I want to tell. Sometimes it was rough in our home due to substance abuse by both parents, but it wasn't always bad. There was a lot of love in our home. And I am grateful for my childhood as it helped to fashion the woman that I am today and my ability to share stories of hope and encouragement.
You are an advocate for foster care having been a foster parent - tell us how that has changed your life?
My husband and I chose to become foster parents because we saw the need. Period. When I was growing up, my neighborhood was a village. Everybody took care of everybody. Things have changed drastically since then. Our society often becomes selfish and self-consumed that we decided to lead by example -we wanted to step up and make a difference in the lives of foster children … and we are better people for it.
You have a production company - what motivated you to get behind the camera? What type of projects are you looking to produce or create?
I formed my production company, Earth Mother Entertainment, in 2018 so that I could put good entertainment into the world, give talented, unknown actors an opportunity to use their gifts, and tell beautiful and poignant stories. At this time, we create and produce all of our content. Our projects are faith and family friendly with human-interest stories. It also allows me the opportunity and liberty to portray characters that I would not necessarily get a chance to play.