Houston Chronicle TV Guide:
Sunday August 2, 1998.

Inside cover article by David Martindale reprinted without permission solely for enjoyment and use by nutball fans like myself.

Back in the late 1970's, when Renee' O'Connor was growing up in Katy, she says one toy she played with was a Wonder Woman action figure.

"I remember it was neat having a female action hero on TV to look up to," she says. "Usually all the heroes were male."

Little did she know at the time she would become the greatest sidekick to one on TV's greatest female action heroes of them all. In fact O'Connor makes a mighty good role model/hero herself.

She co-stars with Lucy Lawless on Xena: Warrior Princess, which has been one of the most popular syndicated series on TV since it's premiere in 1995. The show - along with the series from which Xena spun-off from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys --begins life in reruns Monday on USA.

O'Connor plays Gabrielle, Xena's feisty companion, a sensitive and intelligent young woman who can bust heads when necessary. "I never dreamed I would be doing something like this." says O'Connor, 28, who began studying acting at age 12 at the Alley Theatre and later attended Houston's High School of the Performing and Visual Arts. "I love it." But it's beyond my wildest expectations, to be able to have a character who loves poetry and loves storytelling, which is alot like myself, and yet also have this physical side, where she can be robust and spunky at the same time."

O'Connor said she had no idea the impact the series would have. "I has seen the success of Hercules, so I knew we had a chance to have a successful show," she says. "I think there was some apprehension about having a woman action hero carry a show. But actually that seems to be the draw now."

It's worth noting that originally there was much theorizing by viewers that Xena and Gabrielle might be involved in a lesbian relationship, and O'Connor admits occasionally there were some teasing scenes that fed such ideas. But she adds that there was really little to it, and the show has drifted away from that.

But one thing won't ever change, she says. "We have writers who have written strong, independent female roles and were taking that off the pages and bringing it to life, going for every positive that we can. In every situation, we're trying to go for the best, trying to find for the good in people, trying to bring that out."

Beginning Monday, Hercules reruns at 5 p.m. CST and Xena at 6 p.m. on USA.

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