Lawless Before Xena

To most of her American fans, Lucy Lawless simply is Xena. But before the New Zealand actress donned the now-classic bronze and leather tunic, she had already appeared in a number of high-profile entertainment programs.

After doing a bunch of commercials in her native Auckland, she landed her first real acting job at age 20 with a comedy troupe on television called Funny Business. A variety of guest-starring roles in episode TV (including an episode of Ray Bradbury Theater) quickly followed. Determined to ush her career possibilities further, Lawless, now a new mom, moved to Vancouver, Canada, for eight months to study drama at the William Davis Center for Actors Study (see separate sidebar).

In early 1992, Lawless moved back to New Zealand and 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 globe. She went on to co-host a second season of the show before being cast in the first of the Renaissance television movies, Hercules and the Amazon Women.

The part of Lysia the Enforcer stood out among the assorted Amazons largely because of Lawless' savage portrayal (see above), treating Kevin (Hercules) Sorbo like a hated animal on a leash, imbuing her somewhat limited character with an almost frightening believability. The other memorable detail: Lysia is the Amazon chosen as Zeus' lover by noneother than Zeus (Anthony Quinn) himself. Lawless was impressed with Quinn's legend and credentials, but an acting job was an acting job, and she wondered where her next creative assignment might come from.

It pretty much came from her newly-made friends at Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Impressed with her work and anxious to develop new uses for the versatile Ms. Lawless, the Renaissance producers swiftly cast her in another meaty role, this time Lyla, the enigmatic bride of Derek the Centaur. All it took was a change of haircolor and a modification of attitude... factors Lucy Lawless would fully embrace in the career-making role just around the corner.

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