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Rena Owen

Born to a Maori father and a pakeha (white) mother in the industrial town of Moerewa, Rena Owen in the middle child of nine children. She wrote and starred in Te Awa I Tahutu, and continued to write, act and direct. Now based in Auckland, Rena Owen has worked extensively as an actor in theater and television. Her experience in entertainment began when she was a child, performing traditional Maori singing and dancing. Through her participation in the college Maori cultural group, she gained roles in college productions as Bloody Mary in South Pacific, Calamity Jane in Calamity Jane, among others. She also performed in church and community plays, but pursued a nursing career after college. She then moved to London where she decided to pursue drama and acting full time. Once Were Warriors is Owen's second film role after a small but juicy role in the Kevin Costner-produced feature film, Rapa Nui.

Owen has deservedly received international kudos for her unforgettably powerful performance as Beth, including a recent Best Actress Award at the Montreal Film Festival. It was a role she wanted desperately and one that she felt close kinship with. Says Owen, "Female dramatic lead roles like Beth are so rare. I could have been a Beth -- I know lots of Beths. I could have quite easily been a Beth if my first love hadn't messed around on me because, when I was 16, I would have been happy to live in Moerewa for the rest of my life and have lots of babies. I've seen in a lot of women's lives what pain can do -- it can either drive you or it can defeat you.

Says director Tamahori, Rena is a very powerful actor and she was the only person who I ever had in mind for the role. I had seen Rena in the theatre but the country really hadn't seen her before so she was ripe to just blaze on the screen and amaze people, making them wonder where she had come from. She's a classically trained actor and she has a kind of method approach so she throws herself into it with enormous gusto. At times it was like she was walking on a razor's edge -- it was very scary at times."


Note: This profile was written in or before 2002.

Rena Owen Facts

OccupationActress
BirthdayJuly 22, 1962 (55)
SignCancer
BirthplaceBay of Islands, New Zealand
Height5' 6" (1m68)  How tall is Rena Owen compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Not available.