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Karen LeBlanc Shows Motherly Devotion on Fox’s ‘Accused’

Karen LeBlanc Shows Motherly Devotion on Fox’s ‘Accused’

The new Fox series Accused is a courtroom anthology that breaks the mold of normal crime procedurals. Each episode features a different writing team, cast, and directors. There’s even one directed by Billy Porter. Every episode starts with a courtroom scene and then, through flashbacks we relive the events that led to what is possibly the worst day of the defendant’s life and the life of their loved ones. 

In “Kendall’s Story” we follow Kendall Gomillion (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) as he stands accused of aggravated death. We learn that Kendall is an outstanding citizen, business owner, and family man. Along with his wife Alisa (Karen LeBlanc), they have a young daughter, Iggy (Camille Edna Bascom), who becomes a victim of sexual assault.

The assault rocks the family, and it’s Alisa who ends up being a rock for her young daughter while Kendall spirals and his relationship with his family unravels. I had the pleasure of speaking over the phone with Karen LeBlanc about working with iconic actors like Warner and Wendell Pierce and fostering new talent like Bascom. We also talked about her journey to Hollywood and her genuine luck story that involved the goddess of rock’n’roll herself, Tina Turner.

What was it like working with Malcolm-Jamal?

What a blessing! He’s a beautiful human being. I found him to be such a genuine, authentic person, really loving and giving and focused. We even managed to have a few laughs despite the subject matter. 

I love the relationship between you two. Although there were cracks where communication was needed, there was still a lot of caring and love. What was it like building that rapport with him?

It’s always interesting to enter a world where everything has to be immediate. We have to have this long-term relationship even though we’ve just met. We just took the time to sit and chat a bit, but you know it’s funny, just energetically you can meet people. I said to him, “I’m open, I’m here,” and I felt that same energy from him. 

You were on the same page?

Yes, all of us were on this mission to accomplish the best truth that we can in the short amount of time we have. Let’s build this relationship and let’s make it deep. 

Tell me about working with the iconic Wendell Pierce?

This was my second time working with Wendell, and he is truly a wonderful gentleman. We did a project a couple of years back, Jack Ryan, and you know, nerves and tensions were so high. But Wendell was so cool. I know that sounds cliche, but he’s such a laid back guy. And generous and really genuinely interested in who you are. It’s great being able to feed off of him when he came to deliver the news. 

Tell me about working with Camille, the young girl who plays your daughter. What is it like working with someone knowing what the subject matter is with the understanding that even though she’s an actor, she’s still a young child? What’s it like navigating those waters?

She was lovely! This little girl was just so beautiful. And had those big, bright beautiful eyes blinking at you. I’m so happy we got to talk with Clark [Johnson, writer] and our fearless and fabulous director [Keith Josef Adkins]. There was a discussion of what Camilla would know as an actor of what actually occurs with her character. It’s such a touchy subject to try and figure out. Even her mom was there trying to figure out how much to tell her so she could have the input and do her part as an actress. It was lovely and complicated, and she was very present, willing, and focused.

Your characters on Ginny & Georgia and Kings of Napa are completely different from Alisa. What type of roles are you most drawn to?

I do sometimes become concerned, like, is this the same? But sometimes when I catch a snippet of Kings of Napa or Ginny & Georgia, I think, “No, these are different women,” which I love. I absolutely loved playing Vanessa King [on Kings of Napa]. You’re always growing as a human being as an actor, and being able to play Vanessa with this catalog of drama and emotion and the rollercoaster she was on that show was a real gift for me. But I also have to bring up Tina Turner! I loved doing Tina Turner, and I really feel like I cut my teeth on playing strong women. 

I’m so glad you brought up Tina Turner because it’s one of the trivia facts I love most about your journey to Hollywood. On IMDB it states, “A fan of travel, Karen spent her early years touring as Tina Turner” and I was like, “Wait a minute! There’s a lot missing there!” Tell me about how you got started?

I kind of fell into that gig by accident in the 1990s. I started out as a singer and had a band. Somehow accidentally, there was a Legends show that was happening. They were down a couple of acts, so I had 48 hours to pull together a character. I’d always do What’s Love Got to Do With It, usually karaoke-ing. Then this opportunity came up, and I literally jumped in with my wig in one hand and the shortest dress I could find. I never looked back, and I learned as I went. 

You were one of eight children and grew up in a small town outside of Toronto. Did any of your upbringing influence your approach to acting? 

I realized being the youngest of eight, maybe I was always acting, maybe I was always trying to be heard. I can’t say that I always dreamed of being an actor. I think it was survival. I was over here and I was singing and dancing and maybe showing off, and maybe I did it to make sure I was seen and heard. I never stopped singing, no matter who was listening.

“Kendall’s Story” on Fox’s Accused will air Tuesday, February 14, 2023. 

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