See Gabrielle From "Xena" Now at 51
Actor Renee O'Connor is still dear friends with former co-star Lucy Lawless.
From 1995 to 2001, Renee O'Connor played Gabrielle on Xena: Warrior Princess, transforming over the course of the series from a simple Poteidaian farmgirl to trusty sidekick to Amazon queen and warrior, using her skills as "the Battling Bard of Potidaea" to record adventures with soulmate Xena along the way. In the years since, O'Connor has stayed close to her warrior princess roots, appearing at fan conventions, continuing to act and reuniting with co-star Lucy Lawless in a surprising new role. Read on to find out how the actor has spent the last 21 years and what she's doing now.
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She started a film production company and a theater company.
While appearing on Xena, O'Connor tried her hand at directing with episodes in Season 4 and Season 6 of the series. After wrapping the show, she then launched her own production company, ROC Productions, in 2002. According to the company's website, she has been behind eight post-Xena productions, including the 2009 short film Words Unspoken, which she wrote, directed, and produced. She also began editing and producing marketing videos for brands in 2019. The same year, O'Connor founded the nonprofit House of Bards Theatre Company in San Pedro, California. She serves as the artistic director of the company, which brings "classical and contemporary literature to the stage in an immersive, intimate experience," according to its website.
She acted in two faith-focused films.
In addition to theater, O'Connor has continued to act on screen, with roles in films Boogeyman 2, Diamonds and Guns, a handful of television movies, and the 2009 sci-fi web/Hulu series Ark. Recent roles also include leads in the faith-based films Beyond the Farthest Star (2015) and A Question of Faith (2017).
"As an actress, I have…really looked for films that have some sort of message, a higher message, a spiritual message, something with morals, and then the faith-based roles come to me," she told Untouchable Magazine in 2017. In the same interview, she expressed empathy for gay fans who "feel separate and disenfranchised" from the church and said she has endeavored to be careful about not making them feel alienated by sharing her views and spirituality.
She's made acting a family affair.
O'Connor married New Zealand food distributor Steve Muir while she was still on Xena, and the couple had a son, Miles Muir, in 2001 before divorcing in 2004. O'Connor later began a relationship with actor and producer Jed Sura, giving birth to daughter Iris Sura O'Connor in 2006. The couple wed in 2017.
The family appears to have a shared love of acting and working together. Based in Southern California, Sura and O'Connor run ROC Productions, teach acting classes and run the House of Bards Theatre Company. Both acted in Diamonds and Guns, which was co-directed and produced by O'Connor. Sura also starred in Words Unspoken alongside his stepson, and both children have worked with the company and appeared in the film Watch the Sky, which O'Connor produced. Iris recently starred as Juliet in the House of Bards Theatre Company's 2022 production of Romeo and Juliet. Miles attended The Actors' Program in New Zealand and has acted alongside his mother in My Life is Murder in 2021 and in the theater company's productions of Macbeth and Romeo & Juliet.
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She reunited with Lucy Lawless.
O'Connor joined former co-star Lucy Lawless, who she describes as one of her "dearest friends," for the season finale of her series My Life is Murder in 2021. As a guest star, O'Connor played a wellness guru/cult leader being investigated by Lawless's character after her husband's murder. Although the two hadn't acted together since making a cameo in a 2009 action movie, O'Connor told TooFab of teaming up again, "It felt like I just left," with Lawless adding, "The most natural thing in the world."
She thinks Xena would be a little different if it were made today.
While Xena was famous for cloaking the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle in subtext and innuendo, O'Connor (who was voted the 2006 LesbiaNATION woman of the year), says that if filmed today, she thinks Xena and Gabrielle's relationship would have been explicitly romantic.
"I think that the opportunity to be forthright is more evident in all media now," O'Connor said to Page Six in 2021. "I just think it would definitely be embraced wholeheartedly."