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        14 February 2012

KT's Con 2012 Report - Renee O'Connor

Con Review - 2012 Renee
by KTL

Click here for Main 2012 Xena Con Page | Photos

ImageRenee came out to huge applause. She stood and looked at us for a long time, just standing still and slowly scanning the rows of people in front of her. I think somebody in the audience said something but didn’t really get a reply. Renee said to us, as she slowly kept scanning and looking people in the eye, “I see you”.

(And when she said that, I suddenly remembered a Fringe episode about a guy who has no pigment due to being subjected to nefarious experiments as a child and who kept killing people to steal their pigment so he would be visible to others. For one short moment, he connected with a woman he was interested in who said to him, “I see you in the elevator every day”. Dude died happy because of that. Not that that’s relevant to Renee’s appearance, but it helps to explain why there tend to be missing pieces and/or inexplicable loose words flying around in my reports.)

HEY-back to Renee! Who said, “Fifteen years ago, I went to my first con. I remember being in Philadelphia, walking with Ted around the Freedom Tour. San Francisco. Who was there?” I heard people talking and I think there were some fans who indicated they’d been there.

“I’ve had a child since then. Got divorced. Remarried.” Pause. “I’ve grown up with you”. Then, “Thank you. Thank you”. It was all very quiet and focused on us, we who were there to see her.

Then Renee said, “Man, Gabrielle’s here to answer anything. Don’t be shy”. I think there was some kind of question about if she ever went back to New Zealand. At any rate, my next note on Renee has her saying, “I’ll come back. What city do you live in?” “Brisbane.” “I’ll just come knock on your door”. (That’s a very Lucy comment, I think. Grin.)

In answer to a question, Renee said, “What did I write? For a good time call…”

“What was the best thing about Gabrielle?” Either Renee (or possibly a fan) answered, “The costumes”. Then definitely Renee continued, “Compassion, love and friendship—that’s priceless.”

She was asked about her films, I think maybe with a slant about trying to pass on a script or project to her? “I choose things that resonate with me. I don’t ask for material.”

Either a fan there talked about bullying or Renee was telling us about .something a fan had told her before. “I grew up watching Xena. I’d face the bullies and know I could kick ass.”

Renee said, “The best thing was that (we) didn’t resort to violence until the very last”.(As in, until they’d tried everything else first.)

I think she was asked about Miles and said, “I want to brag about my son. He’s as tall as I am. I was fortunate in that I was home and was a part of my children’s lives. He’s a Safety Ambassador in his school. Why didn’t we all have classes like this in all our schools? And I thought of you guys, putting up with all you did with such grace”.

I think she was asked something about did playing Gabrielle help her when she became a mother in real life.

(As Gabrielle) “I took every child I could and I destroyed them. It was method acting. To kill Hope—I found it somehow. That was not helpful.”

Then looking around, she said, “Such YOUNG fans!”

A fan asked, “What was the most inspirational thing a fan has told you?”

“It’s hard for me to remember the details.”

My next words: “Transformation. Not feeling alone. Being seen. Being heard.” (Perhaps other folks who were there will help us figure what that’s all about.)

Then I have Renee saying, “Picture like a little Japanese anime but not as violent”.

Hmmm—I know at one point someone mentioned her paintings.

Another fan said they were a con virgin. We had MASSES of con virgins this year. I suspect it was the “final con” thing that brought so many out. It was just great to have so many—to know that the show and the characters and the storyline still speak to many people around the world. Either the fan or Renee referred to being a con virgin as going through a rite of passage. I kind of enjoyed that concept.

A fan (possibly the same person who said they were a con virgin) told us that this was the one year anniversary of her Dad’s passing. Renee declared, “We honor him.”

That moved me because (and I haven’t ever talked about this publicly before) my father passed away about two weeks before Xena did in June of 2001. I remember one of my best Xena friends writing to me and saying something like, “I know this sounds frivolous and weird but I feel so bad for you—first you lose your father and then you lose Xena. I KNOW they’re nowhere near being equivalent but I also know how much you loved that character. And I’m sorry you’re having that double loss.” And you know, I appreciated what she was saying and was very moved that she thought about that for me and wrote me about it, even as we both acknowledged and kind of giggled over the vast difference between losing a parent and losing a fictional character. So I felt I understood a little bit of what this fan was feeling in wanting to share her story with everyone, being aware that for us deeply appreciative XWP fans, being part of the Xenaverse is part of one’s real life and that things that happen in real life might impact our Xenaverse life. And vice-versa.

A fan asked something about how/why Renee took part in Katherine Fugate’s play. Then I have written down, “Well spoken and brave”. Renee said that Katherine promised that if she’d do it, she’d give Renee a year of free babysitting. Which MIGHT be where the word “brave” comes in…

Renee was asked which was her favorite ep. “Anything with Kevin Smith (Ares) is a favorite.” Ah, THEN she mentioned the Debt as one she would suggest as an episode to show a first timer. So here’s where that discussion of the Debt took place. (No wonder I didn’t have it written down in my notes on Lucy and Renee onstage together. Which of course hadn’t happened yet.)

A fan came up and talked about having seen a short film Renee appeared in, “One Weekend A Month” in Afghanistan. “I started communicating with Eric Escobar (Writer/producer/director). “My dad passed away and Renee and Eric sent me a care package. A card and tickets to “One Weekend A Month”. Renee said, “That was Eric”. The fan said, “Thank you” and then I think Renee said, “Thank you. Everybody honors each other.”

A fan asked if Renee could change Gabrielle what would she change and why? “Oh shit. Oh shit. Personally, I admire Lucy’s sense of humor. I would have liked more humor. More levity over all.”

Someone mentioned a Chakram newsletter from 10 years ago. And that Renee had auditioned for a sitcom. Renee looked at us and said with a smile, “That went well, eh?”

Someone said (fan or Renee, I’m not sure) “You really have to deal with rejection”. Renee talked about a stand-up comedian who was going to have his own show. I believe Renee told him, “'I looked you up on line'. His eyes got huge. I was a stalker from that point on. (Pause). There was no chemistry in the room.” The fan asked who it was and Renee dismissed that, saying she wasn’t going to give out any names.

I think I missed something in the middle, because the next thing I have written down is, “After that I really saw you guys. And heard you. Thank you”. (After WHAT? Tch…)

A fan said something about Renee directing a sitcom. Renee said, “it’s always good to grow and learn. I don’t think I’m very good at it but I enjoyed it”.

And on that note, Lucy showed up.

Renee was very busy at this con. She had two photo ops and two autograph sessions, one of each on both Saturday and Sunday. I don’t think she’s doubled up like that before.

It was obvious Renee was very relaxed this year. She hasn’t always been. She did some of the very early cons as she said, I think in 1997. But then we didn’t see her for years. I started going to the L.A. cons in 1998. And I didn’t see her until 2001 I believe—the last con before the end of the series.

And when she came in the past, she didn’t just stand and chat with us, answering questions and telling us stories. She did play readings with other actors, once she did a set of single character monologues, she showed us her art projects and she ran her movies for us. A few of those times, like the play reading and the monologues, she left the stage at the end of the performances and didn’t interact with us at all. This year, for the first time since the first year, she was there just to talk with us and visit.

I liked it very much, to see her so comfortable with us and to have her wanting to be with us one-on-one (okay, okay, one-on-hundreds). And having nothing separating us, nothing to distract us from looking at each other and nothing taking away from her using her time to have a form of conversation with us. I was very glad to see she’s so relaxed with being herself on stage, in front of us. A good end to her journey among the Xena fandom.




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