BiographyKaren Vaccaro

I was raised in Rockford Illinois by Theresa Tarara and Dominic Vaccaro. Born of peasant stock my parents were both first generation Sicilian-Americans. My mother‘s family hailed from Aragona and my father’s from Sambuca. My Italian heritage played a huge part of my childhood and upbringing. I have vivid memories of Sunday dinners at my grandparents house and my grandfather and father making wine every other fall. The rich sounds and smells of bubbling, fermenting grapes in large wooden barrels are vividly etched in my memory.

I knew I wanted to be an actor when i was 8 years old and attended my sisters dance recital. I immediately started dance lessons (tap, ballet, jazz and acrobatics) 2 to 3 times a week until I graduated from high school. My interest in acting was cultivated by my mom who was a huge movie buff and wished she had had the opportunity to take dance lessons as a child. We would always go to the movies and watch old movies on television and stay up all night talking about them. It was such a thrill when she took my sister and I to see Carousel when it toured to the Coronado theater starring John Raitt. When I was 12 years old, graduating from sixth grade I told myself that I needed to decide what I was going to do with the rest of my life. It was very clear I wanted to pursue acting. Throughout junior high and high school I acted in school plays and when I was a senior in high school I played small roles and took classes at the New American Theater, a semi-professional company in Rockford. I studied acting in college at Illinois State University and then continued my training in NYC for 3 years.

My work, acting, brings me great joy and satisfaction and fills me up like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. When I’m working I feel like I’m having a love affair. A love affair with my work! However, I have other passions: my daughter, my political/social activism, and my personal and spiritual growth. My daughter is my heart and my soul who I love more than anything else in the world. Raising her to be a kind, grounded, generous citizen of the world is my number one priority. I would move heaven and earth for her if necessary and believe me, I have. I was one of the founders of STOP AIDS CHICAGO a grassroots AIDS prevention organization back in the late 1980s. I had lost so may friends to AIDS I felt I had to do something. I’ve participated in so many political marches and worked on more elections over the years I’ve lost count. I’m committed to my personal and spiritual growth and I am no stranger to therapy and meditation. I continually explore different therapeutic modalities, meditations and visualizations. I’ve tried to live by the lyrics “ Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.“

“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and the awful its ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and inhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.”

- LR Knost