Hi there, I’m Karina Jones and I am an actor, aerialist and belly dancer. Here’s my story…
I began taking ballet, tap and modern dance lessons as a young girl and also did the acting awards with LAMDA. I fell in love with performing and always knew I wanted to be an actress when I grew up. Then at the age of thirteen I was was registered blind. I wasn’t going to let this get in my way.
Depite being told by various teachers and careers advisors that I couldn’t be an actress and my only job options were to be a masseuse or a switchboard operator, I still pursued my ambitions. I gained a place at Liverpool University to study a BA(Hons) Performing Arts. When I graduated I knew I had to get myself an Equity Card so I could work professional as a performer. So I flew to Egypt to train in belly dancing! It worked.
After that, my professional acting career began with Graeae Theatre Company. I was part of their professional acting course that lead on to a performance at Sadlers Wells called ‘The Missing Piece’. From there I did five national tours with Graeae. I also worked Birds of Paradise Theatre company in Glasgow and did four tours of Scotland. I also worked for the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow both acting and singing. I appeared as a blind woman on ‘The Bill’ and ‘Off Their Rockers’ on television and in 2012 I worked for The National Theatre of Wales at The Millennium Centre in their production of ‘In Water I’m Weightless’. I have also worked in Radio for BBC Radio 4’s Woman hours drama playing Tash the Lash, a Welsh single mum in SoloParentPals.com.
I then went on to study an MA at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in Voice and Accent Studies where I received a distinction. I now work as a coach for voice, accents, acting and audition techniques in between acting work.
In 2012 my career took another turn. I was asked in to be the Paralympics Opening Ceremony in 2012 as aerial circus artist. As there were no disabled aerial artists at the time, a group of 40 disabled people were chosen to be trained on aerial equipment. We trained for three months at The National Centre of Circus Arts in London. I fell in love with aerial hoop, trapeze and fabrics and continued full time training on the Green Top Circus aerial performers course. I was then chosen by Extraordinary Bodies to be one of their artists and to be in their show ‘Weighting’ which toured the UK twice and I went to work with them and Circus Oz in Melbourne in December 2016. I have learnt to teach other disabled people aerial circus skills and have worked with them training disabled and disadvantaged people in circus. My aerial work has seen me perform a solo aerial piece at the Opening Ceremony for The Cerebal Palsy World Games and various theatre/circus productions including playing the central character of The Bird in Rogue Play Theatre’s ‘Taking Flight’ at The Hope Mill Theatre 2017 and performing as part of The British Paraorchestra at Colston Hall in 2016.
A career highlight of mine is being nominated for a Manchester Evening News Best Actress award for playing Thomasina in the production of ‘Crystal Clear’ which was the first production in The Lowry Theatre. At this production I was introduced to The Queen and Prince Philip, who kindly told to be careful I didn’t fall off the stage!
In 2017 I toured the UK in ‘Wait Until Dark’ with The Original Theatre Company. I am the first blind actor to play the part of Susy, originally played by Audrey Hepburn in the film in 1966, and played by many sighted actors since.
2018 has been a very exciting year too. I have been developing my own show with National Theatre Wales and Sheffield Theatres, I flew to Bulgaria to film upcoming Channel 4 Drama Foreign Skies and I have been selected as a Clore Fellow 2018. I have ended the year by joining the RSC and will be part of their Rep Company 2019/2020.
2019 saw me working with Royal Shakespeare Company performing in As You Like It and Measure for Measure first at the RST In Stratford-Upon-Avon then at The Lowry in Salford, a short tour in Spain and then opening for a season at The Barbican in London. In January 2020 we began our UK tour which finished in March 2020. I ended the tour playing my understudy role of Jaques in As You Like It being the first ever visually impaired actor to go on as an understudy for the RSC and for a sighted role too!