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Rena Owen Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2) | Mini Bio (1) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (9) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (2)

Date of Birth 22 July 1962Bay 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

Trade Mark (1)

Sultry, deep voice

Trivia (9)

One of only six actors to appear in films directed by both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg (the others are Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, Christopher Lee, Richard Dreyfuss and Samuel L. Jackson).
Grateful she grew up in rural New Zealand with a strong concept of family, community and nature. Milked cows, rode horses, swam in rivers, and lived off the land.
Her Maori Tribal affiliation is Ngati Hine. Both parents have now passed away leaving behind a very large tight-knit family. 9 children, 7 in-laws, 28 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren! Family means everything to her as do her life-long friends.
She had to leave her cat in New Zealand and her dog in Australia rather than subject them to 6 months in USA quarantined cages. Misses them terribly but she now makes do with travel friendly Beanie Monkeys and a Plush Yoda.
Rena was one of only a very few to receive a Literary Award from Dame Te Atarangikahu, NZ's Maori Queen in 1991.
Was awarded a Scholarship to be a Native Fellow at the 2005 Sundance Producers Lab. Gained a place in the 06 European Film Business School and has been a Mentor for Film Independent's program; Project Involve.
Is proud to be an honorary Australian.
Was selected for Academy Celebrity Exhibition by Pat York and was honored to be next to Anthony Hopkins.
Lives in West Hollywood, California [January 2007]

Personal Quotes (2)

I have great respect for craft. I believe one shouldn't just assume a title but work hard in order to earn the title. A hunger to learn will take you a very long way!
My mum used to say, for an ordinary little girl from the sticks of New Zealand, you have lived an extraordinary life. For that, I am profoundly and eternally grateful. My motto; love what you do and do it to the very best of your ability!

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