'Harry's Law' forces Karen Olivo to learn how to drive

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karen-olivi-harrys-law-325-nc.jpgActors pick up accents, gain weight or walk differently for roles, whatever they need to do to make the characters believable.

Karen Olivo learned to drive for her role as Cassie on NBC's "Harry's Law."

A Bronx native who spent much of her childhood in Florida, Olivo picked an apartment near the show's Burbank, Calif., studio so she could bike to work.

She laughs recalling how surprised some studio bosses were that she couldn't drive.

"I am a New Yorker," she tells Zap2it, referring to the city where mass transportation is the preferred mode of getting around. "So I had to just rush and get it. A couple of long days at work, and getting in the car and driving is really therapeutic."

Though this is her first regular series role, Olivo likens the experience to being an understudy on Broadway, where she had to learn multiple roles and be ready at a moment's notice.

"I relate it to my life as a swing," she says. "You prepare, you prepare and you never know what you are preparing for. Being a swing, that is where I started my career.

"That free-falling of, 'How are we going to do this?' "

In "Rent," she learned all of the roles save one. Olivo was terrific in the Tony Award-winning musical "In the Heights" and again the next year when she picked up the featured acting award for the revival of "West Side Story."

"I feel like I don't understand this medium well enough," she says of TV. "So I would like to do more. ... I like the feeling of meeting the challenge every week. Of course I miss the theater, but that is home. It's hard on hiatus to find something that will fit -- to find something in the time frame and that you fit into."

Credits: "The Orphan Killer," "Chase," "Shanghai Hotel," "The Good Wife"

Always in your refrigerator: Kale

Other Jobs: "I have done the New York waiter thing," she says. "I was living in Harlem and working in a place on Central Park South. It was a pretty fancy place, and I remember being really bad at it. It takes a very specific person to be a good waiter. My nickname was 'On the Fly' and '86.' '86' is when you don't have any more. I was notorious for ordering multiple orders of things that were already 86'ed."
Photo/Video credit: NewsCom