KAREN CHILTON is a New York-based Writer/Actor. A native of Chicago’s South Side, Ms. Chilton received her Business degree from Bradley University. She has extensive musical training from The Chicago Conservatory of Music in classical piano and has studied abroad as an America Field Service (AFS) international exchange student in the Dominican Republic. Other areas of intensive study include dramatic writing and jazz history.
Ms. Chilton’s acting credits include the New York stage, episodic television as well as featured roles in numerous independent films. Her supporting role in the award-winning independent film, HALF NELSON, directed by Ryan Fleck and starring Ryan Gosling garnered outstanding reviews in the U.S. and abroad. “Karen Chilton projects limitless compassion and depth...” wrote INDIEwire. Critic Andrew Sarris wrote in The New York Observer: “The key to the direction of all the performances is tactful restraint and nuanced modulation. This applies to...Karen Chilton.” She was also a principal in the short film version of that feature, GOWANUS, BROOKLYN, winner of the 2004 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Jury Prize. Most recently, she was featured in IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY (FOCUS) directed by Ryan Fleck, featuring Zach Galifianakis. She was a principal in the indie release, INSIDE A CHANGE, winner of the HBO Latino Film Festival, directed by Rik Cordero (FADERfilms). For her lead role in Fleck’s short film, STRUGGLE, she received New York Magazine’s “First Run Film Festival” Craft Award for Acting. The film is based on the 1970s police interrogation of black civil rights activist, Assata Shakur; it was also screened at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and has won numerous awards. During 2003, Ms. Chilton was selected as an Actor-in-Residence at New River Dramatists (formerly The Playwright Project) in North Carolina.
Her dramatic works for the stage include a five-character full-length play, CONVERGENCE, winner of the New Professional Theatre Writers Festival. SAYING GRACE, a solo performance piece directed by director/choreographer Ken Roberson (Avenue Q), was performed in the 2003 Women of Color Theater Festival at New York’s landmark theater, Henry Street Settlement. Other works-in-progress include AFRODISIAC (Or LET MY PEOPLE FLOW), a stage play centered on the Voters’ Rights Act.
Ms. Chilton is the author of the critically-acclaimed biography HAZEL SCOTT: THE PIONEERING JOURNEY OF A JAZZ PIANIST FROM CAFÉ SOCIETY TO HOLLYWOOD TO HUAC (University of Michigan Press). JAZZ TIMES wrote: "Perhaps the highest compliment one can pay to this fine biography is that during the first 150 pages the reader is wondering why Scott isn’t better known, at least in the jazz world. But by the story’s end...the same reader knows exactly why, but is still likely to be singing her praises as a true trailblazer in African-American culture." Chilton was awarded a month-long writer’s residency at the Millay Colony for the Arts to support her work on the book, and named the Tracy and Leo Maitland Fellow following her residency. She is also the co-author of I WISH YOU LOVE, the jazz memoir of legendary vocalist, Gloria Lynne (St. Martin’s Press). The autobiography was a critical success, receiving an outstanding review from the industry journal, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, which stated: “Full of gossip, exclamation and vernacular, it’s a book that demands to be read out loud. This is a moving tribute to the crucible of Harlem jazz.” Her essay on blues legend Bessie Smith appears in AIN’T NOTHING LIKE THE REAL THING: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment (Smithsonian Books). As a freelance writer, her work has been published in numerous magazines and journals including Smithsonian and Diaspora.
She is also an accomplished voiceover artist and narrator. Her voice can be heard on numerous national network television, radio and internet advertising campaigns. She has narrated dozens of audiobooks, including STANDING TALL by C. Vivian Stringer, listed as one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Audiobooks of 2008, and I’VE GOT A HOME IN GLORY LAND for which she received the Audiofile Golden Earphones Awards.
Ms. Chilton’s affiliations include membership in the SAG/AFTRA, Actors Equity Association, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and The Toni Morrison Society.
Name: Karen Chilton
Lives in: New York City, New York
Occupation: Actor, Playwright, Screenwriter and Voice Artist
New York Magazine 'First Run Film Fest' Craft Award for Acting