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Fame & Fortune
Karen Allen
Blockbusters aside, actress sticks to her knitting
Celebrity interview

Fame & Fortune: Karen Allen

Bankrate: How is it playing Marion this time around?

Karen Allen: Fantastic. They wrote me this beautiful role and we just fell right back into it. It was so easy to pick up from where we had left off. It was really surprising.

Bankrate: Many people might not realize you've started your own textile company called Karen Allen Fiber Arts in Great Barrington, Mass. How has this made you financially secure given the tenuous nature of acting?

Karen Allen: I wouldn't say so far it has added to my financial security too much. As you know, when you first start a company -- this is our fourth year -- we're in a startup mode and it's a big investment.

I'm here right now in a barn I bought in Great Barrington and I have a big beautiful studio. I invested in all the yarns, and I have 10 Japanese knitting machines in here; I opened a store all on my own in Great Barrington about two and a half years ago a couple blocks away from the studio, so it hasn't really created much financial stability.

I'm just pouring money into it at this point, but the hope is that eventually it will become financially sound and it's going well. So I'm pretty much on target for how a young business should be developed.

Bankrate: You also teach at (Bard College at) Simon's Rock?

Karen Allen: I do. I've taken a year off but I'm going back in September to teach again.

Bankrate: What was the first financial lesson you learned the hard way?

Karen Allen: I have to say, I don't know that I've ever really had a bad financial situation. I'm one of those people -- I'm not an impulse buyer and I live fairly simply. I don't need a lot of stuff. I don't buy fancy cars; I don't need that stuff in my life so I've never gotten into overextending myself financially. Between owning the studio and the store is about as much as I've ever stuck my neck out.

Bankrate: Are you a single working mom?

Karen Allen: Yes I am. Although my son has just begun to live with his dad (actor Kale Browne) for the first time, who just moved back here from California. I'm a single working mom, but my son is actually living full time with his dad. He attends Simon's Rock college, but is not living on campus this year. We all live in the same area. And his dad and I get along great; we're great friends.

Bankrate: So have you saved for a rainy day and putting a teenage son through college?

Karen Allen: Well, I'm in the Screen Actor's Guild and they have quite a wonderful pension system. And for a big part of my actual career through my 20s, 30s and 40s, a wonderful, smart business manager forced me to think about creating a pension plan for myself.

I don't have those fears that some people live with about ending up a bag lady on the corner. I think all artists, especially who don't have secure jobs, and when their last one (job) comes to an end, (they) feel the usual actor's nightmare, that they're going to end up at the old actor's home.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: May 23, 2008
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