Karen Olivo

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Karen Olivo
Karen Olivo.jpg
Born (1976-08-07) August 7, 1976 (age 39)
Manhattan, New York
Occupation Actress
Years active 1998–present

Karen Olivo (born August 7, 1976) is an American stage and television actress, who is known for originating the role of Vanessa in the Tony Award–winning musical In the Heights both on and off Broadway. She won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance as Anita (2009–2010) in the revival of West Side Story. She is the first and only actor to win a Tony for a performance in West Side Story.

Life and career[edit]

Olivo's father is of Puerto Rican and Native American descent, and her mother is of Dominican and Chinese descent. She was born in New York City and raised in Bartow, Florida. She attended the Lois Cowles Harrison Center for the Visual and Performing Arts in nearby Lakeland, Florida, and later the University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music. Until 2012, Olivo was married to Matt Caplan, most recently of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. On March 18, 2013, Olivo took to her website to announce her leave from acting, citing "with this knowledge I start a new chapter. I leave behind the actor and I start learning how to be me."[1] However, on March 9, 2014 it was announced that Olivo would return to professional acting with New York City Center's Encores! production of the Jonathan Larson musical 'tick, tick... BOOM!' in June 2014 Off-Broadway.[2]


In 2009, Olivo received her first Tony Award for her performance as Anita in the Broadway revival of West Side Story.[3] She was also nominated for both a Drama Desk and an Outer Critic's Circle Award for her critically acclaimed performance as Anita. She earned her second Astaire Award nomination for Best Female Dancer for her performance in West Side Story, after previously winning the same award in 2008 for her performance in In the Heights. She was contracted with West Side Story at the Palace through 2010.[4] During the May 8, 2010 matinee performance of West Side Story, Olivo broke her foot.[5] Anita standby Natalie Cortez performed the role until the show's closure.[6] Olivo took part in the world premiere of "By The Way, Meet Vera Stark" at Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, the play "draws upon the screwball films of the 1930s to take a funny and irreverent look at racial stereotypes in Hollywood."[7]


Olivo had a recurring role in The Good Wife on CBS. She played fabulously wealthy law student Giada Cabrini, a potential love interest of firm partner Will Gardner (Josh Charles). Olivo was a series regular in the second season of NBC's Harry's Law, playing "hot shot lawyer" Cassie Reynolds hired by Kathy Bates' character.[8]

Olivo also appeared as Isabelle Perez, a woman that was unknowingly sterilized in the Law & Order episode "Birthright." She also appears in the spin-off series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Jennifer Benitez in an episode titled "Loophole".

Theatre credits[edit]

Show Character Year Notes
Brooklyn The Musical Faith 2004
Miracle Brothers (Off Broadway) Jeca 2005
In The Heights (Off Broadway) Vanessa 2007
Hair (40th Anniversary Concert) Sheila 2007
In The Heights (Broadway) Vanessa 2008 Astaire Award
West Side Story (Broadway Revival) Anita 2009 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Drama Desk Award nomination, Outer Critics Circle Award, Astaire Award nomination
By The Way, Meet Vera Stark (Off Broadway) Anna Mae/ Afua Assata Ejobo 2011
Murder Ballad (Off Broadway) 2012
'tick, tick... BOOM!' (Off-Broadway) Susan/Karessa 2014


Olivo has had several roles in movies, including Adrift in Manhattan, Make Yourself at Home, The New Twenty, Shanghai Hotel, and The Orphan Killer.


External links[edit]