Lucy Lawless stars as Xena, the beautiful, brave and fiercely independent hero of the new one-hour syndicated series "Xena: Warrior Princess."
A native of Mt. Albert, Auckland, New Zealand, Lawless first captivated American audiences with her portrayal of Xena in a three-episode arc of the hit series "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" this past season. Praised recently by Newsweek as a "formidable natural resource" in "Hercules," she elicited such strong viewer response that the decision was made to create a spin-off series for her this fall.
"Hercules" fans may also recognize Lawless from her work in the series as Lyla, the lovely and courageous young bride of Deric the Centaur. In addition, she appeared as the menacing Amazon enforcer Lysia in "Hercules and the Amazon Women," the first of the five successful two-hour "Action Pack" movies-for-television which launched the top-rated weekly hour.
Almost six feet tall, with black hair and intense blue eyes, Lawless is the fifth of seven children and the oldest girl in her family. Her father, who became mayor of Mt. Albert the year Lucy was born, is currently Chairman of Finance for Auckland City. Her mother, always a strong supporter of the community, was forever extending the hospitality of their home to people who had nowhere else to go.
Lucy was born on March 29, 1968. Until the age of eight, Lucy was very much a tomboy, following in the footsteps of her four older brothers.
Apart from a two-year public school stint, she attended convent schools. Pursuing an early interest in acting, she appeared in numerous musicals and plays throughout her high school years.
Following graduation at 17, she attended Auckland University for a short time before wanderlust set in. she left for Europe "to go grape-picking on the Rhine." When she ran out Of money, she took off for Australia and signed on with a gold-mining company operating in Kalgoorlie, a small town in the-outback about 500 miles from Perth. She was subsequently relocated to a tiny mining camp two hours further away from civilization. One of the very few women miners, Lucy did the same grueling work as the men - digging, mapping the ground, driving trucks, and pushing huge core samples of earth through a diamond saw.
Lucy married in Australia and returned to Auckland shortly thereafter, where her daughter Daisy, now eight years old, was born. With renewed determination to pursue a career in acting, she began doing television commercials before landing her first real acting job at age 20 with a comedy troupe on television called "Funny Business." After a variety of guest-starring roles in episodic TV, she moved to Vancouver, Canada, for eight months to study drama at the William Davis Center for Actors Study. When she returned to New Zealand in early 1992, she accepted a job as the co-host for "Air New Zealand Holiday," a travel magazine show broadcast in New Zealand and throughout Asia, which took her around the world. She went on to co-host a second season of the show before being cast in "Hercules and the Amazon Women."
Lawless sees the role of Xena as her first major breakthrough as an actress. She describes the character as "a woman as strong as any man or woman has ever been, who lives by her wits, but is also a fighter. She's a very human hero, who knows all about the darker side of human nature since she must battle it within herself every day."
Though she had practiced yoga for some time, Lawless had no special training in martial arts, sword play, or stunt work when she landed the role of Xena. She did have some experience with horses, having ridden a great deal as a teenager. Blessed with a natural aptitude for the kinds of physical challenges the role demands, Lucy is now working closely with a personal trainer in Auckland. During a brief visit to Los Angeles this summer, she also trained with martial arts master Douglas Wong ("Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story") to learn basic kung fu moves, as well as fighting techniques with swords and staffs.
Lawless also has an aptitude for languages and accents. She speaks English, German, French and some Italian, and has often worked on U.S. co-productions requiring a mid- American accent. Despite having studied opera for several years, Lucy's passion is for jazz.
Some of the other projects Lucy has worked on include the short film Peach, and various appearances on television including "The Ray Bradbury Theater", "The New Adventures of the Black Stallion" and a role in the docudrama "Rainbow Warrior" about the eponymous Greenpeace ship that was sunk in New Zealand by the French.
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