Karen Hayley is an award-winning writer, comedy actress and voice-over artist with over twenty-five years’ experience working in TV, feature film, theatre, radio, voice-over, and live performance.
Karen is best known for her comedy roles in BAFTA Award winning sketch shows The Armstrong & Miller Show (BBC1), Bo Selecta (C4), and A Bear’s Tale (C4), co-hosting 1LSQ with Russell Brand (MTV), The TNT Show (C4), Navelgazing Presents (Dave UK), and Chikepedia with Miranda Hart (C4). Recent projects include Dom Jolly’s Fool Britannia (ITV) and Keith Lemon’s Lemon La Vida Loca (ITV2).
After graduating from the Central School of Speech and Drama (3-year acting course), she started working as a straight actress before focusing on comedy. Her early jobs included leading roles in the Warner Bros TV Dark Realm series, The New Professionals (Sky), short films, including Hood with Martin Freeman, and music videos including one for Supergrass directed by Sophie Muller, and a feature film of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, with Jonathan Firth, Sadie Frost, Robert Hardy and Prunella Scales.
She has presented for BBC Radio 6 Music and MTV Networks (6-year exclusive contract), winning MTV’s “Best New Presenter” award, and appeared on current affairs comedy shows for Objective and Hat Trick.
Karen has appeared in several long-running theatre productions in the West End (The National Theatre, The Apollo Victoria Theatre), playing the leading roles in Percy Bisshe Shelley’s The Cenci, and in the comedies Cyrano de Bergerac (Bridewell Theatre), Shakers (Eye Theatre), Aphra Behn’s The Rover, Ram Alley (The Globe), and the Feydeau farce A Little Hotel on the Side directed by Jonathan Lynn (National Theatre).
As a live writer/performer, Karen has performed in over 200 festivals and venues in the UK and abroad, including The Soho Literary Festival, the London Word Festival, The Bristol Poetry Festival, The Hague Literary Festival, The Netherlands Film Festival, Poetry International Rotterdam, Bang Said The Gun, The Book Club Boutique, Literary Death Match, Standon Calling, The Fix, The Amused Moose, Apples and Snakes, Shakespeare & Co Paris, The BAC, The ICA, Union Halle Frankfurt, The Royal Festival Hall, The Paradiso Amsterdam, and Reading Comedy Festival, 2013.
Karen has presented for BBC Radio 6 Music and was a member of the BBC Radio Drama Company (acting in radio plays). She has been a featured writer/performer on New York’s East Village Radio, BBC Radio 6 Music, BBC Radio 3’s The Verb, BBC1, XFM, Resonance FM, and Kiss FM for Sony PlayStation3.
She has also worked in New York; improvising with writers from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, and acted in several comedy podcasts for The Times Online and Virgin Media, including John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman’s The Bugle; a weekly satirical news podcast.
Karen’s voice-over work includes:
Narrating the BAFTA award winning TV series Sea Monsters (BBC1), TV & radio series (for Bravo, BBC1, BBC Interactive, CBBC, Channel 5, Turner Classic Movies, Discovery).
Commercials for Volkswagen, Olay, Schweppes, Sony, MTV, Apple iPhone, Alpha Romeo, Cadbury, America’s Next Top Model, Orange Mobile, Sky, Animal Planet, Waterstones, The World Wildlife Fund, The Labour Party.
Video games (for Xbox and Sony PlayStation including Severance: Blade of Darkness, Sudeki, Operation Flashpoint, Overlord and Fable).
Animation (Cartoon Network, CBeebies, Studio AKA, MTV, Fox Kids, Orange Mobile, Virgin Media).
Karen is the “voice” of Virgin Mobile, One.Tel and Apple iPhone.
Karen has worked as a scriptwriter, writing and developing TV & Radio Comedy projects for Hat Trick Productions, Objective Productions, Talkback, Thames, C4, ITV, BBC Comedy, Princess Productions, Shine, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6 Music, MTV, XFM, Virgin Media, Mother, and New York’s East Village Radio.
Her writing credits include Bo Selecta, A Bear’s Tail, The TNT show, Balls of Steel, Hat Trick Interactive, Lemon La Vida Loca, Dom Jolly’s Fool Britannia, The Good The Bad and The Early with John Oliver & Russell Brand, comedy sketches for MTV, BBC Comedy, and BBC Radio 6 Music shows.
She provided additional material and improvisation on several advertising campaigns, including the highly successful commercials for ASOS (America’s Next Top Model), Orange, and Schweppes (with Martin Freeman, Doon Mackichan, and Matt Holness) for Mother and Fallon.
She writes and performs narrative comedy regularly in London, and her poetry is published in Velocity by Black Spring Press.
Karen is a fully qualified teacher specializing in the two areas she works in professionally: voice and comedy.
Recent workshops include:
(Mountview. East 15, Drama Studio London, Central School of Speech & Drama, ISSA, The Actor’s Centre)
Intensive courses in writing and performing sketches & live character comedy, and in acting for film, sketch shows, sitcoms & comedy plays.
“Very much enjoyed today Found it extremely useful and it has cleared up a lot of questions I had, and it is something I very much want to pursue. The games in the morning helped the class feel confident and broke down any self conscious feelings. The camera work helped me understand the differences between TV comedy and Live comedy”
“Hi Karen! I just wanted to say that I had so much fun in the work shop! The camera work was also incredibly useful as I have never done comedy on camera before and I learnt a lot. The direction you gave us was very subtle but some how you managed to bring out the comedy in all of us! I thought the scenes were very well chosen for a class of people who are trained actors but have more stage experience than screen! I would love to do television comedy and feel that the workshop gave me a great foundation for future comedy work. Thanks!”
“This was a very helpful experience for me, as I don’t necessarily consider myself to be a “comedic actor” This workshop was very helpful and has given me confidence and to tackle comedy scripts.”
(Mountview, Freelance, London Academy of Media, Film & TV, The Actor’s Centre)
An interactive voice-over course, which covers all areas of recorded media, (including radio plays. video games, animation, series narration, audio books, ADR, commercials & continuity), and includes additional professional tips.
“Really learned a lot in a short space of time. Feel more confident looking for work in this particular part if the industry, have got a much clearer idea of what works and what doesn’t in voice over”
“VERY useful as it’s a subject I knew nothing at all about; technically (as in how what you do when recording a voice) and practically (the vast amount of work there available and how varied that work can be). I hadn’t considered and it is so different to radio work. Thanks!”
“I’ve found this series of classes very valuable (and a lot of fun!). Having the opportunity to “road test” some different voices on mic, and start to explore my strengths, has been really helpful. Practically speaking, I feel like I’m in a better position now to go into a professional studio for an audition or a job. Thank you!”
Karen is currently working with Mind UK (the mental Health charity), to develop a full length “Comedy For Stress Management” course. She also teaches “Comedy in NLP” with Harley Street Therapist, Laura Spicer.
“What a great learning experience. A brilliant introduction on how to inject humour and comedy into my work. I am looking forward to an expanded course of learning these skills.”
“What a brilliant way to spend a day. The whole day was a lot of fun with plenty of laughs had by everyone. I took away from the day some great ideas for making light of situations I might have unnecessarily found serious otherwise and how to use humour in real life situations, work situations and relationships.”
“For someone who ‘doesn’t do humour’, I have probably laughed more today than for the whole of the last year! The most important thing I learnt is that the key to humour is your own state – that it is less about what you say and more about the way you say it. I will go away from here with the intention of becoming more ‘playful'”
(Comedy, Acting, TV/Radio Writing & Development)
0207 255 6138
0207 419 0700