Shining a spotlight on celebrities and athletes who love to travel. Created and developed by Stacy Steponate Greenberg.

Most any artist would consider herself fortunate to work with one legendary director – Rena Owen can proudly say she worked with two of the most successful icons in motion picture history: George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Quite an accomplishment for someone who started off pursuing a career in nursing. Eventually Rena’s true passion took over and she enrolled and trained at the Actors Institute of London. A native of New Zealand, Owen honed her skills in the theater acting, writing and directing, winning numerous awards for her film roles. After settling in LA, Owen was cast in George Lucas’ Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. In her most recent role, Owen conquers the small screen as a series regular in Freeform’s mermaid drama “Siren”.  The Overhead Compartment caught up with Rena Owen to learn about this talented actress and a bit about mermaids too.

SIREN premieres March 29th, 2018.

The Overhead Compartment with Rena Owen begins now….

OC: Your new series “Siren” is a thriller about a mysterious young girl who is a mermaid and wreaks havoc on a small village known by legend to be home of mermaids. How much studying up did you do on mermaids?

RO: I read a lot online and I was amazed by the enormous mermaid fandom going on around the world. I checked out mermaid conventions, listened to mermaid podcasts, and I read mermaid blogs and scientific resources.

OC: What surprising thing did you learn about them?

RO: Some societies actually believe humans are descended from mermaids, but most scientific resources believe that mermaids are entirely fictional. There is no hard evidence that mermaids actually exist outside folklore, but reports of mermaid sightings around the world continue, and apparently there are four types of mermaids; traditional mermaids, shape shifting mermaids, human form merfolk, and skin shedding mermaids.

OC: What’s it like working on a thriller?

RO: It keeps you bright-eyed, bushy tailed, and on your toes. As actors we don’t necessarily know what is going to happen in the next episode, so we wait with anticipation and we get to ask the same question as our audience, “What’s going to happen next?” It’s exciting!

OC: What’s the best part of shooting the series in Vancouver?

RO: Getting to work in a whole lot of picturesque locations. Most places in Vancouver are postcard images. Beautiful beaches, bold mountain ranges, lush greenery, and art forms are everywhere. I also appreciate the cleaner air. Vancouver is similar to where I come from; clean, green New Zealand.

OC: What is one thing no visitor to the city should miss?

RO: If you like exercising, do the Grouse Grind. It is a challenging hike with a 1.8 mile ascent, an elevation gain of 2,800 feet, and 2,830 steps. You’ll be rewarded with a huge sense of achievement when you get to the top of ‘mother nature’s stair master’! If you need something more gentle, Stanley Park Seawall is the most popular recreational spot in Vancouver and is perfect for a beautiful flat walk, bicycle ride, or jog.

OC: You have been starring in television, on the stage and in movies for many years, what’s the most exciting place work has taken you?

RO: The most extraordinary and unforgettable place work has taken me is to Easter Island in 1993 to shoot a Kevin Reynolds and Kevin Costner feature film called Rapa Nui, which is the island’s original Polynesian name.

OC: How would you spend a perfect day there if you had one free?

RO: I would pack a yummy picnic lunch, a large bottle of vitamin C water, and hire a bicycle. Easter Island is a very small island and you can do a leisurely bike ride around the entire island in a day and have spare time to stop and enjoy sights like Anakena Beach, Rano Raraku National Park, and the numerous moai (stone statues) spread around the island. When I was there I did this with a friend but on a motorbike and my favorite site was the biggest volcanic crater on Easter Island, the spectacular Rano Kau.

OC: What’s one piece of advice all career women should know?

RO: Our inner child is the source of our unique creativity, so nurture her well and enable her to succeed, shine, and soar.

OC: You worked with both George Lucas on Star Wars and with Stephen Spielberg, what was it like working with those two iconic filmmakers?

RO: George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg are very similar. They are both creative child-like geniuses in very large playgrounds with enormous skills and resources. I would just say that Spielberg is more extroverted.  It was an honor and I loved working with both. Like most trail blazers, they know who they are, they live their purpose with passion, and they pursue their visions with everything they’ve got. They dared to be their unique self.

OC: What was your favorite experience of being involved with the Star Wars phenomenon?

RO: I had no concept of the enormous film franchise that Star Wars was. So I approached it as, ‘just another job’ and I had a whole lot of creative fun. I was like a big kid in a big green-screen playground. I loved working with Lucas and I also had the pleasure of hanging with his children on set.

OC: You’re from New Zealand, what’s three things no visitor should miss?

RO: Fiordland National Park in the South Island, 90 Mile Beach at the top of the North Island, and Rotorua in the middle of the North Island for a cultural experience and a dip in mother nature’s thermal hot pools.  If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan; visit the Hobbiton Movie Set, do the Twizel Tour, and visit our capital and home city of Peter Jackson, Wellington.

OC: First thing you do when arriving at a hotel in your room?

RO: I open the curtains or balcony doors and breath in the view.

OC: Complete the following sentence: I never leave home without:

RO: My tooth brush, tooth paste, and my sunblock. I can survive without everything else if I had to.

Rena Owen, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful day!

Photo credit:  Caren Davis