By Emily Feimster
Oh how much easier life would be if we knew what we wanted to do at the age of 12! You know, besides being an astronaut and a ballerina. Luckily for Kari Matchett, that's exactly what happened to her when she picked up a copy of the book "The Outsiders." It's hard to believe that characters with names like Pony Boy and Soda Pop could have such a profound influence over a young girl, but they did, and that's when she knew she wanted to be an actor.
"I had a natural tendency towards acting. I always danced, and sang, and did school plays, but the decision came when I was 12. It came out of me obsessing over this novel that we've all heard of called, 'The Outsiders,'" explains Kari of the teen book.
"I felt so much when I was reading the novel - I used to cry or laugh. When I read that they were making it into a movie, it was like a light bulb going off in my head and I felt like I understood a form for all this stuff. I just got what I needed to do."
Pretty soon there was no stopping the young Kari, who up until that point, had enjoyed a very simple upbringing in the small rural town of Spalding in Canada. Her commitment to being an actor eventually led her to Red Deer College and later the prestigious National Theater School in Montreal. She worked professionally in Canada for 10 years and then it was hello Hollywood!
"I moved here two years ago and after five weeks, I got the pilot of 'Invasion' and then 'Invasion' turned into a whole season," says Kari of her quick success. "I just did '24' [playing the corrupt Chief of Staff to the war-mongering Vice President], 'Studio 60,' and now I'm doing 'Heartland' with Treat Williams."
In the one-hour hospital drama, premiering June 11 on TNT, Kari plays an organ recovery coordinator named Kate Armstrong. Treat plays the show's hotshot surgeon, who also happens to be her ex-husband. "We're opening right after 'The Closer,'" she adds of the lineup. Hey, not a bad way to start off in the States!
"I haven't had the opportunity to see Los Angeles in a way that I feel like I might should have experienced it," she notes. "Hollywood has been such a gorgeous experience for me. It's been embracing and wonderful."
Now if she could just find some more time to visit her homeland, she'd be even happier, but that's what happens when you're in demand. "I miss my family and my friends, and I miss things like rain and the leaves turning. The first October I was here, I really had kind of a heart sickness for not seeing leaves turn. It was disturbing to me. Something was off in my body clock because of it. I'm not complaining, though. I love the sunshine and the ocean."
As for what's to come in Kari's ever-growing career, the sky's the limit. She just hopes to do some good in the process. "I want to keep doing wonderful roles and feature films that take me to exotic places around the world. I want to keep working with fantastic, like-minded, collaborative, brilliant people, who I have great mind meld with," she says of her career goals.
"I also want to continue working on conscious projects - projects that address important political, spiritual, and social issues. There's so much that needs to be addressed in the world and so much aid that we as a rich, western society can give the world and so many of us don't, but I want to be one of those who do."