|Date of Birth||22 July 1962, Bay of Islands, New Zealand|
|Height||5' 5½" (1.66 m)|
Mini Bio (1)
Rena Owen's electrifying lead performance in the New Zealand (NZ) cult-classic feature film, Once Were Warriors, garnered her universal rave reviews and multiple international Best Actress Awards. Lindsay Shelton of the NZFC declared her to be, "The pre-eminent cinema Actress of her generation". David Denby stated, "Owen's performance is classic!" Roger Ebert proclaimed, "You don't often see acting like this in the movies. The two leads bring the Academy Awards into perspective". Ruby Rich called her "The Bette Davis from Down Under" and Thelma Adams wrote, "Owen has the looks of Jeanne Moreau, the raw emotional power of Anna Magnani and a slim athleticism all her own".
One of 9 children, Owen was born and bred in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand to a Maori/Welsh Father and a European Mother. Throughout her youth she was active in the Maori Culture Club entertaining with Maori Singing and Dancing. She was published at 8 when she won a national children's poetry contest. Her first stage role was at 15 in South Pacific followed by the leading role in Calamity Jane. Despite knowing her talents and passion were in creativity, upon graduating the Arts were not considered a viable career.
At 18, she moved to Auckland to pursue a Nursing Career and 3 years later qualified as a General & Obstetric Nurse. 1983 she went on her OE, overseas experience, a common Kiwi pursuit, and landed in London. Awed by the huge city, the bright lights of the entertainment world and the temptations that came with it easily seduced her. She played with drugs and got burnt. But this life changing experience led her back to her true path, to be an Artist.
1985 she enrolled in the Actors Institute of London. During those early years she acted in plays and wrote her first stage play. Produced by Clean Break with Rena in the lead, it enjoyed a successful London tour and was published by NZ Playmarket in 1991. Other UK highlights include, Voices from Prison for the Royal Shakespeare Company and Outside In, which debuted at the Edinburgh Festival and toured London. The reputable award-winning Actress, Ann Mitchell was an instrumental mentor and friend in these formative years of Rena's acting and writing career.
Rena returned to NZ in 1989. In constant pursuit of learning, honing and refining her craft, she continued to work extensively as an Actor and Writer in Theater and Television. Daddy's Girl written by and starring Rena enjoyed a critically acclaimed season. She acted in Maori Theater, directed stage plays, helped to devise plays, worked as a Dramaturgy for Playmarket and wrote and read short stories for Radio NZ.
Rena's first feature film was a supporting role in the Kevin Reynolds/Kevin Costner film, Rapa Nui. Followed by the lead in Once Were Warriors. Voted one of Time Magazine's top 10 films in 1994, the film garnered over 30 International Awards and screened in 66 countries. It propelled Rena onto the international film stage.
Instead of pursuing an acting career in Hollywood whilst she was hot, she returned to work in the Theater in NZ. Followed by more roles in Television and Film. She was a series regular on Australia's version of ER playing the Head Nurse. And had the privilege of acting in a Rolf De Heer film which was in competition at Cannes and garnered her an AFI nomination in 1999. She relished being on the Jury of multiple International Film Festivals.
In 2000, Rena settled in Los Angeles to learn more about filmmaking. She also continues to act in a wide variety of vehicles from international blockbuster film franchises like Star Wars, or AI, to low budget Independent feature or short-films, television guest star roles and once every few years, a substantial Theater piece. For the last 6 years Rena has been developing the first totally pre-colonial epic NZ feature film based on the first historical novel to be written by a Maori, Behind The Tattooed Face by Heretaunga Pat Baker.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Publicist Jan Kean & Rena Owen