Born in Memphis, Adrienne has spent most of her life dancing and singing. From the stage to playing in all girl bands to voice-overs to TV series like Xena, her eclectic nature is reflected as much in her everyday life to her career. Here is a girl who enjoys movies as diverse as Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Pulp Fiction, reading books as different as Pope Joan to Harold Robbins, music as big as Oklahoma or as in the mood as Glen Miller. Throw in some rock’n’roll, house music and alternative and you get only a small impression of the kind of energy and passion Adrienne exudes. Perhaps it stems from being centered by such a supportive family where Adrienne’s dad is a policeman and the four children were encouraged to achieve their chosen goals.
The kind of intense energy viewers have witnessed in the cult series, Xena: Warrior Princess, where Adrienne gave it her all every week playing Xena’s daughter, Livia/Eva in the final two series. I suppose she has the kind of pure energy one can imagine of a character born of an immaculate conception. However, when sweet young Eve grows up to be Livia, Champion of Rome, Xena realises her greatest fears, which reach their climax when mother and daughter battle to the death. However, Xena spares her daughter’s life and when they eventually fight again she has the help of Eli to remind the evil Livia of her past life. Her soul is saved and she rediscovers her gentle alter-ego, Eva. It is one of the more gripping storylines in this hit series, and one which Adrienne handled with energy and aplomb. She is at her best in the hedonistic scenes playing Livia each time she encounters Xena. Yet, Adrienne possesses both the poise and the beauty to also catch the sweet innocence which is Eva.
While busy working on various projects Adrienne has also established a great website which also works towards various fine charitable works particularly involving children and animals and the site and its fans have recently raised $6000 going towards covering the costs for a cancer patient. Adrienne regularly works with numerous charities giving of her time and energy to aid others. The James B. Ellis Foundation is just one that Adrienne has spent a lot of time with over the years. In this cause Adrienne uses the monies raised from her website to keep the site running by signing autographs for fans and direct donations to her charities and people she assists. Anyone wanting to help or to purchase a signed 10x8 photo should check out Adrienne’s huge site (and make sure you check out all the archives, photos and interviews) at:
Adrienne was kind enough to answer a few of my questions recently and here is what she had to say about her life and career thus far:
David: Could you tell us a little about your career as a teenage dancer in Memphis?
Adrienne: Actually I only lived in Memphis until I was 5 years old. But I did start my dance training there at the age of two. I moved a lot in my early childhood, but spent much of my time in Northern Arizona, where I was part of Prescott Dance Center. I also lived in Cuba, Missouri for a time where I had a dance troop called the New Sensations. We had shows every summer, and also worked in conjunction with a professional company in the same area. In those years I was involved in jazz, tap, hip hop, ballet and more. I later was part of a touring dance troop of Celtic/highland dancers in California.
David: Could you tell us the story behind landing the role as Eve/Livia on Xena?
Adrienne: I was actually part of an all-girl singing group that was on the verge of getting signed to a record deal when the Xena opportunity came along. I initially turned down the audition as I didn’t have time, and then I eventually had the chance to read for it later. It went perfectly and I was offered the role...and then I had to decide between singing and acting. Acting is my first love, and that's what I chose.
David: When did you sign your first autograph and how did you feel at the time?
Adrienne: It was at a convention...I thought it was hilarious that anyone would want my signature, let alone that hundreds of people would be lined up for it. It's a great feeling to know that so many people enjoy your work.
David: What's the funniest or strangest thing that has happened to you on a set? And have any of the actors you’ve worked with pulled any great tricks on you?
Adrienne. The funniest things usually are the result of mistakes or fluke circumstances: a sword breaking in the middle of a fight scene, a wave pushing you over in the middle of a dramatic scene at the beach or a wardrobe falling apart as you are giving a big monologue. And animals...animals always make it more interesting because there are so many ways that things can go wrong! But no, I don't have any huge pranks to report. There are always great goofy jokes and laughter on set, but I’ve never been the victim of something that is outrageous.
David: You have a very loyal following of fans, but have you ever encountered any problems with a fan or autograph collector? Or have you seen any forged autographed photos being sold?
Adrienne: Sure. Yes to all of the above. I don’t know anyone in this business that hasn't had their image forged or signatures forged or had a fan get out of hand. It’s a very unfortunate part of the business, because you want to be open and friendly and available, but it only takes one or two bad experiences to scare you and make you want to refrain from interacting with strangers.
David: Do you collect autographs or memorabilia yourself, and if so, what are some of your favourite treasures?
Adrienne: I’ve never been a memorabilia collector. When I was young I was around a lot of well known personalities (mostly in the music business) because of where I grew up and I think it just seemed normal to me. I never thought of anyone as being too out of touch nor did I ever participate in fan clubs or anything. So, I think I kind of missed out on the "mysticism" that can accompany celebrity.
David: If any person in history could sign a photo for you, who would you ask and what would you have them say in their dedication?
Adrienne: Whoa. That’s a hard one. There are so many artists, writers and historical figures throughout history that I would love to know and have a connection with. But honestly, I wouldn't want something personal like an autograph. The work that I respect the most is meant for everyone and I wouldn¹t want to waste their time on something just for me. I would just want them to continue with their work -- to inspire me and everyone else. I hope to think that one day I can inspire others through my work as well.
David: How did you come to get into VO work during recent years?
Adrienne: I was introduced to voice-over work about a year ago and a half ago.
It is known as the hardest area of the business to break into, but I have been lucky to have worked on some very fun and exciting projects. Voice over work is very specific. A job can usually be accomplished quickly, but you have to be at the top of your game at every moment. It is a new kind of challenge for me, but a challenge all the same, as you have to give an animated character a full personality and complete acting performance using only your voice. It can be freeing and a bit daunting too.
David: What does the future hold for you?
Adrienne: Wouldn’t I like to know!??! Very big things I hope. I have a guest spot coming up on an ABC show later this spring. I have a lot of voice work coming out...and I hope that fate brings me a lot of film and TV work as well. I am excited to see what this year holds.
Always check out the website www.adriennewilkinson.com for the latest updates. We are about to start a complete design overhaul of our site where we will have even more available to our visitors.
David: Do you have any messages or stories you would enjoy sharing with our readers Adrienne?
Adrienne: Hmmm, that's kind of vague. I would welcome anyone who is a fan of
Xena to visit our website, as we have SO much archived material. We have various interviews, photos, stories and so much more. It is a great history to look through. As for messages, I would just say Thank you so much for the continued interest and support of my career. I am so appreciative of all the fan enthusiasm. I wish everyone a successful and fulfilling 2005!
Article copyright David Priol 2005
Photos courtesy of the Official Adrienne Wilkinson Fansite.