‘Once Upon A Time’: How ABC’s ‘Galavant’ Helped Karen David Prepare for Jasmine

Playing a Disney princess comes with a lot of pressure. With entire fanbases revolving around a single character, actors need preparation to get them right. Once Upon A Time actor Karen David said playing Princess Isabella in ABC’s Galavant helped her role as Princess Jasmine.

Karen David and Robert Lindsay in a scene from 'Galavant' S2
Karen David and Robert Lindsay | Liam Daniel/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

Princess Isabella in ABC’s Galavant

In January 2015, ABC’s Galavant aired as Once Upon A Time’s midseason replacement. The musical fantasy-comedy shows gave Karen David the chance to step into a princess role for the first time.

Before appearing as Jasmine in Once Upon A Time season six, she played Princess Isabella Maria Lucia Elisabetta of Valencia. Her story begins when her country is conquered by King Richard (Psych’s Timothy Omundson).

She strikes a deal with the King to deliver the knight Sir Galavant (Her Pen Pal’s Joshua Sasse) in exchange for her parents’ safety.

Over the course of the show, she struggles to weigh the responsibility she has to her family and kingdom against the moral dilemma of trading one life for another. 

CinemaBlend asked David in an interview if playing Princess Isabella helped prepare her for Jasmine.

“Playing Isabella did!” David said. “I feel like I went through all the — I say this in an endearing way — growing pains of playing a character that has so much responsibility, not only to her family but to her kingdom.”

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How Princess Isabella helped Karen David find Jasmine’s identity

Karen David then expanded on how the responsibility the characters faced shaped their identity.

“Finding a happy medium of finding one’s identity within all the expectations that are placed on Isabella or Jasmine,” David continued to CinemaBlend. “That was something that excited me as an actor.” 

Whether trying to save her kingdom from a tyrannical rule or fighting Jafar (The Mummy’s Oded Fehr), David focused on how Princess Isabella and Jasmine would carry themselves with so much pressure on their shoulders.

“What was so refreshing about Isabella was that, and I know it leads more to the genre of the show, you see how deeply flawed and how not perfect these characters are, yet they’re so lovable!” David then said. “But they’re human too.”

Karen David finding the humanness in her characters

David kept in mind that while these characters held positions of power, they live as humans like anyone else.

“I think what prepped going into Once Upon a Time was that at the end of the day, they are just as human as anyone else. So to try and celebrate those refreshing moments, that they cry and laugh at things just as much as any of us do,” David said in the CinemaBlend interview.

David looks back on both roles fondly. Even though the Once Upon A Time and Galavant‘s tones differing greatly, playing a real person sold both roles.

“I think back on both of these roles with such a big smile,” David said. “I have this permanent cheesy grin on my face because they’re both such extraordinary roles that I’m so, so grateful to have played, and every time I think about it or ask questions about it, I just light up.”

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