Karen David was born in Shillong, Meghalaya, India, with what she calls a "Chinese, Indian and a sliver of Jewish heritage", and was raised in Canada. At age 17, she moved to London to study at the Guildford School of Acting.
Upon finishing drama school, Karen joined the original cast of the West End musical Mamma Mia!. She made her professional acting debut as part of the ensemble and as understudy of Ali and Lisa. A.R. Rahman, who had been invited to see the show by the director Shekhar Kapur, asked Karen to assist him and Don Black in the development of the material for the Bollywood-themed musical Bombay Dreams. She performed songs on the show's U.S. and Canadian tour, and continued collaborating with Rahman at his Panchathan Record Inn and AM Studios in Chennai, India.
She appeared in two short television videos, Dancers: The Trailer, playing the role of Jenny, and The Paper Round, playing the role of a policewoman. She then landed a role in the musical Bollywood Queen, as a member of the R&B band at the story's center. Through 2004 and 2005, she played Scarlet in MTV's Top Buzzer.
Her other acting credits include Lyla, a main character in the London-based film Take 3 Girls, Steven Seagal's Flight of Fury, The Colour of Magic, and The Legend of Dick and Dom. She also appeared as the female lead in The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior. On television, she played the Spanish teacher, Francesca "Cesca" Montoya, in series six of BBC One's drama, Waterloo Road. While Waterloo Road was still airing, she landed the role of legend hunter Alexia Alderton in Pixelface, a CBBC children's comedy series about six video game characters and what they do when they are not inside their games.
Karen appeared on American television with a guest role on the Fox series Touch in 2012, playing Kayla Graham. In February 2013, she appeared in the two-part episode "Target" of the ABC series Castle, and later went on to star in the ABC television series Galavant as Princess Isabella Maria Lucia Elizabetta of Valencia, which premiered in January 2015. In August 2018, David joined the cast of the CW's Legacies as Emma Tig.
- Her favorite Disney princesses are Jasmine, Pocahontas and Esmeralda, while her favorite Disney villain is Ursula.
- She got to work with Scott Weinger, the voice of Aladdin in the Disney movie, on Galavant. Scott Weinger even congratulated her, when it was announced that she would be playing Jasmine on Once Upon a Time.
- She attended Mark Isham's scoring session for "Street Rats".
- She sang "A Whole New World" from Aladdin on her Instagram account on October 23, 2016, in honor of "Street Rats" airing that day.
- Karen, along with Amy Manson, who plays Merida, both appear in the Legacies episode "Malivore".
- After the announcement that the seventh season would be the final season of the series, she wrote the following on Instagram:
- Well it was one amazing magic carpet ride that I will cherish for years to come!! Truly blessed to have been a part of @onceabcofficial and welcomed by such a lovely and supportive cast and crew. Congrats @adamhorowitzla and @jollychan4 for making such a special show for 7 years, crossing borders, and touching hearts around the world. Thank you gents and @abcnetwork a million times over for making a childhood dream come true playing Jasmine. To the amazing #OUAT fandom, thank you for welcoming me into the family and embracing my Jasmine/Shirin. Grateful for your love and kindness! 😘❤️ 
|Once Upon a Time: Season Six|
|"The Savior":||"A Bitter Draught":||"The Other Shoe":||"Strange Case":||"Street Rats":||"Dark Waters":||"Heartless":||"I'll Be Your Mirror":||"Changelings":||"Wish You Were Here":||"Tougher Than the Rest":|
|"Murder Most Foul":||"Ill-Boding Patterns":||"Page 23":||"A Wondrous Place":||"Mother's Little Helper":||"Awake":||"Where Bluebirds Fly":||"The Black Fairy":||"The Song in Your Heart":||"The Final Battle Part 1":||"The Final Battle Part 2":|
|Once Upon a Time: Season Seven|
|"Hyperion Heights":||"A Pirate's Life":||"The Garden of Forking Paths":||"Beauty":||"Greenbacks":||"Wake Up Call":||"Eloise Gardener":||"Pretty in Blue":||"One Little Tear":||"The Eighth Witch":||"Secret Garden":|
|"A Taste of the Heights":||"Knightfall":||"The Girl in the Tower":||"Sisterhood":||"Breadcrumbs":||"Chosen":||"The Guardian":||"Flower Child":||"Is This Henry Mills?":||"Homecoming":||"Leaving Storybrooke":|
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