‘In The Heights’ and ‘West Side Story’ star Karen Olivo quits acting


Karen Olivo

With the title ‘Starting Over’, Karen Olivo, well known for her role as Vanessa in In The Heights and Anita in the 2009 revival of West Side Story, posted on her blog on Monday that she is quitting acting.

Karen came out strong to the Broadway world, first recognized for starring in the 2007 Off-Broadway show, In The Heights, where she played one of the two leading female roles in the show, Vanessa, a girl who only wants to get out the barrio. The show moved to Broadway in 2008 and was a favorite for critics and fans alike.

From there, Karen wowed audiences as the iconic Anita in West Side Story in 2009 and won a Tony Award and was nominated for a Drama Desk award. Since then, Karen has played smaller roles, most recently in a rock musical called Murder Ballad which played off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club.

In her blog post, she mentions that she “was giving away for the price of a ticket was a fraction of me.” Karen also shares “My abilities have always been bigger than my desire to share them.”

We’re all told at some point what to do in our lives and Karen was obviously told, because of her singing and acting abilities, she should be an actor. And so she did. But at a huge cost. She reveals that not only did she lose her second husband last year but she was also losing a battle with herself that she could sense even before returning to New York for Murder Ballad and did come to fruition during her time at the show.

People who read this blog post may have been disappointed in Karen. They may have been jealous. They may have even been angry and upset with her. But she deserves more than to be acting only because someone told her she had to, and in a sense, Broadway needs actors who love what they do and are born to do it.

Karen is a lovely person and says multiple times she is thankful for what she’s been given. But times change and people sometimes have to change with it. Nothing but respect should be given to Karen for making a very hard decision and sticking with it because it was good for her.

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One Response

  1. Wow. I think it takes an unbelievable amount of strength to not only make this kind of decision, but share the reason why with the world. While the theatre community will undoubtedly miss her, she’s doing what she needs to do for herself and I don’t think anyone can fault her for that.