Rena Owen: 'LA cheaper to live in than Auckland'

Ricardo Simich,
Spy News,
Publish Date
Saturday, 6 May 2017, 5:04PM
Rena Owen.
Rena Owen.

After more than a decade living in Hollywood, Auckland has become too expensive for a move home any time soon, for actress Rena Owen. Luckily the work is flowing in for the Once Were Warriors and Star Wars’ star.

Owen told Spy she is thrilled with her new roles.

Her pilot for Siren, which she filmed last year, has just been picked up for a full US series. Siren takes us inside Bristol Cove — a coastal town known for its legend of once being home to mermaids. Owen plays Helen, the town eccentric who seems to know more about the mermaids than she lets on.

Owen has also scored a guest role on Family Guy creator, Seth MacFarlane’s new space comedy-drama series Orville, which is a not-so-top-of-the-line exploratory ship in Earth’s interstellar fleet, set 300 years in the future.

“I was actually hoping to move home last year. I think it’s an age thing — I want to be close to my whanau and my life-long friends, I want a garden, I’d like to have pets again … I’d love to settle down!

“I have been a gypsy for a very long time. However, what I didn’t realise until my last trip home was the dramatic change in the cost of living, especially with property. It is now cheaper for me to live in Los Angeles than to live in my own home in West Auckland.”

When Owen, 54, first moved to LA after the success of Warriors in the late 90s, it was much harder to get established.

“You had to buy a car back then; these days the young Kiwi actors just call an Uber, the opportunities and support for Kiwi actors here now is huge.”

Owen has welcomed many new Kiwi faces to Hollywood and often catches up with the pack including Taika Waititi, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Fleur Saville and Shavaughn Ruakere. Last month she was there welcoming the movie Pork Pie at its LA premiere.

Owen is realistic and smart on her plan to come home.

“In order for me to live in New Zealand, I have to now monetise my skills and talents, which means diversifying beyond acting into other areas like voice work, MCing, public speaking engagements, etc. I’ve joined Auckland-based agents Johnson and Laird who are helping me think ahead to stay afloat and hopefully come home!”