Karen Bengo is a self-taught dancer who has worked for successful artists such as Gossip, Rita Ora, MIA , Pixie Lott, Whitney Houston, and Cheryl Cole. Apart from being a professional dancer, she also shares her time between working as a model and as an actor. For the first time, Karen shares with us details of how it all began, working with Whitney Houston, and how she maintains her clear smooth skin.

Karen+Bengo+Interview+Zen+agazine+Africa3Karen Bengo is a Burundian-born actor, model and dancer living in London

Zen Magazine: Tell us about your hometown. Where are you from?
Karen: I am from the beautiful country of Burundi situated in East Africa. It’s a country full of colors and it also has some of the best tropical forests in Africa.

Zen Magazine: At what moment did you discover you had a passion for TV and dancing?
Karen: I was very young when I got started. I used to watch a music TV programme my mum allowed me to watch at 6 pm on Saturdays and when I saw “Smooth criminal by Michael Jackson” on TV I knew being on television is what I wanted to do but being in Africa at the time I knew that could only be a dream. I later got a chance to actualize my dreams when I moved to the UK and had the chance to explore my creative side.

Zen Magazine: You have danced in videos for a few top celebrities including the likes of Whitney Houston. How was it like working with Whitney Houston?
Karen: Well, it was a dream you know. There are so many of us wanting to dance and perform for such big artists so the chance to dance for the likes of Whitney Houston was the confirmation I needed that I was born to be a creative individual. It was a blessing working with her and the memories will remain with me forever.

Zen Magazine: Did you feel pressured to deliver a 110% because of how big these celebrities are?
Karen: Oh yes off course! I was very nervous because I had to show why I got the job ahead of other dancers. Also, it’s important to know that it’s their creativity your trying to share with world so you have to be professional. Knowing your peers, family and friends are watching also adds a little more pressure but it comes with the job.

Karen+Bengo+Interview+Zen+agazine+Africa2

Zen Magazine: How competitive are you?
Karen: I would say I am very competitive especially when I know I am getting ready for an audition. I always put my best foot forward, and try my hardest. I am very determined and I always push myself until I become the best at it. It’s my African up bringing I guess. My friends and colleagues in the industry know me for this.

Zen Magazine: Now you are planning to visit Los Angeles to push your movie career. What are your expectations?
Karen: Well am currently training at drama school but my agent still sends me to a few acting roles. However I want to go to LA to get the sense of professional acting and to also see agencies and discuss representation in the United States. I am excited!!! I am also going to shoot, as quiet a few photographers are keen to collaborate on projects. I also get to see my friends too who moved there to chase their dreams and dance as well.

Zen Magazine: Do you think you have what it takes to break into Hollywood?
Karen: I would say I certainly do have what it takes to break it into the industry. I have been in this industry for close to 8 years now and I feel lucky to be born with the two most important skills  which are “determination” and “drive”.

Zen Magazine: You have the look of a model Karen. I am sure you get told that a lot. Have you done some modelling also in your career?
Karen: Modelling was a profession I discovered in 2010 but did not pursue it seriously until late 2013. I guess you could say I just never thought there was a market for me though I was proved otherwise.

Karen+Bengo+Interview+Zen+agazine+Africa1It’s those that bring something different to the industry
that have more longevity” says Karen

Zen Magazine: Which actors in Hollywood would you love to work with?
Karen: I would love to work with actors Viola Davis, Wunmi Mosaku, Lupita Nyong’o, Charlize Theron, Julianne Moore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Denzel Washington, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Forest Whitaker, and do many others. The list is endless!

Zen Magazine: Which actress inspires you the most in the world? Why?
Karen: Viola Davis and Julianne Moore inspire me the most. I love the way they play their characters in movies and they both have a good work ethic.

Zen Magazine: You always maintain a clear smooth skin. Any beauty tips to share with us?
Karen: For me I drink water a lot. I would say drink lots of water and remember that exercise is really important because it allows your pores to clear and sweat out any toxins. Also, get enough sleep. If you want to maintain a smooth fresh skin you need to be getting sufficient rest.

Zen Magazine: Who is your biggest inspiration in your life?
Karen: My biggest inspiration is definitely my mum because she single handedly raised I and my sister up since we were young. She also had to do it on her own so I owe her everything.

Karen+Bengo+Interview+Zen+agazine+Africa

Zen Magazine: What fashion looks are you looking to try this season?
Karen: Ohhh am quiet into lace. It’s simple but sexy and it has been trending for a while now.

Zen Magazine: Which African designers do you follow their work?
Karen: I follow David Tlale and Duro Olowu.

Zen Magazine: What’s your favorite perfume brand?
Karen: Dior

Zen Magazine: Inspiration words for aspiring dancers, actors or models.
Karen: Stay unique at all times. It’s those that bring something different to the industry that have more longevity. Take risks, smart risks because this is the best way to learn about the industry. Learn your own capability, and the people you work with. This will add more depth to your artistry.

For more information on Karen, visit www.kareneonline.com
Connect with her on social media, T: @karenBengo | F: Karen Bengo | I: Karenbengo