as Karen Walker
Emmy Award-winning actress Megan Mullally, who plays Karen, Grace’s socialite assistant on “Will & Grace,” explains what attracted her to the part: “A lot of times the funniest characters are those who don’t know that they’ve got it all wrong. Karen is completely confident that her way is the right way.”
Mullally, who won an Emmy as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2000 and was nominated again in 2001, believes she inherited her acting ability from her father, Carter Mullally Jr., who was a contract player with Paramount Pictures in the 1950s. “I guess I take after my dad; he was always a cut-up around the house,” says Mullally, an only child who was born in Los Angeles and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. During high school, Mullally studied ballet and appeared as a soloist with Oklahoma City’s Ballet Oklahoma. In the summers, she studied at George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet in New York City. “I realized that my favorite ballet roles were the ones where I was required to act,” she says. “Having a mad scene and then dying on stage was the best part.”
As her interest in theater was growing, Mullally studied English and art history at Northwestern University while appearing in university plays and musicals. She also spent six years working in Chicago’s theater scene. Mullally relocated to Los Angeles and won her first regular television role playing Ellen Burstyn’s daughter on the New York-based “The Ellen Burstyn Show.” She then began appearing in regular roles on such series as “My Life and Times” and “Rachel Gunn, R.N.,” and as a guest star on “Ned & Stacey” (where she first met her current co-star Debra Messing). She also won roles on “Seinfeld,” NBC’s “Frasier,” “Mad About You,” “Wings,” “Caroline in the City,” “Dear John” and NBC’s “Just Shoot Me,” as well as “Almost Grown.” She recently appeared in Paul Mazursky’s television movie “Winchell,” portraying the wife of famed journalist Walter Winchell (Stanley Tucci).
Mullally has appeared in the feature films “About Last Night …,” “Queens Logic” and “Monkey Bone,” as well as the upcoming “Speaking of Sex,” which stars Bill Murray and James Spader, and the independent feature “Everything Put Together,” opposite Rhanda Mitchell.
Among Mullally’s Broadway credits are the hit revival of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” in which she starred as Rosemary opposite Matthew Broderick and received an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination. She also appeared as Marty in the revival of “Grease,” starring Rosie O’Donnell. Recently, Mullally premiered her one-woman musical, “Sweetheart,” which enjoyed a sold-out four-week run in Los Angeles and will be remounted in the future.
Mullally also has been nominated for an American Comedy Award as Funniest Supporting Female Performer in a Television Series and from the Television Critics Association for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Comedy. She lives in Los Angeles and her birthday is November 12.