Whoosh! Issue 12 -
September 1997

Exclusive to Whoosh!
By Bret Ryan Rudnick
Copyright © 1997 held by author
1416 words

Author's Note: Off and on throughout the month of May, via the gracious intermediary of her agent, I carried on a periodic electronic correspondence with Jodie Dorday, who played the roles of Solari [THE QUEST (#37) and A NECESSARY EVIL (#38)] and Io [PROMETHEUS (#08)] in Xena: Warrior Princess. Below are the results of my questions and her replies (including modifications from a follow-up 14 August, 1997). Those with good memories or tapes will recall Jodie Dorday first appeared in the episode PROMETHEUS as the Oracle Io. In the second season, we were fortunate enough to see her again as Ephiny's "sidekick" Solari in THE QUEST and A NECESSARY EVIL. Although we know of no plans to bring back the character of Solari, we may be fortunate enough to see Ms. Dorday again in a different role sometime in Season Three. Fans in New Zealand recently saw Jodie in the popular NZ soap SHORTLAND STREET, where she appeared for a few weeks in late August and early September 1997.

At night, I fight crime and evil-doers!

Actress Jodie Dorday, sans leather.

Getting The Part (01-04)
Background (05-08)
Career And Fans (09-14)
On the Set of Xena: Warrior Princess (15-16)

An Interview With Jodie Dorday

Getting the Part

You people play a mean game of 'twister'!

Xena (left) meets the dancing Orcacle, Io (right) in PROMETHEUS.

[01] I have to say, I've personally very much enjoyed your performance as "Io" in the episode PROMETHEUS (#08), and especially your performance as Solari in THE QUEST (#37) and A NECESSARY EVIL (#38). What was your first "Xena" memory -- how were you selected for these roles?

[02] My first Xena memory was "awe" at the fact that in the middle of Auckland city was this warehouse filled with huge sets -- it was quite secretive at that stage and not many people even knew it was there (Xena was not screening here yet). I was selected for the role through the usual audition process and I must have been what they wanted for that particular character.

[03] Some of the most popular episodes in the series so far involve the Amazons. Some of these parts seem pretty physically intense as well. Do you have any special athletic training? Is it relevant?

[04] I have trained in ballet and jazz for 20 years and I've found with any acting role that the co-ordination and strength you gain from dance helps immensely -- especially for Xena roles because they would be wanting a "specific look"..


Ephiny and I have the same hairdresser.  Does it

Io sets a task for Xena.

[05] What is your background and acting history?

[06] As I said I've mainly danced most of my life and have only moved into acting the last two years. In fact "Io" was the first film work I'd done - (quite terrifying!!). I've been lucky to have had a break getting into theater in New Zealand and have worked with the Auckland Theater Company and have had fairly regular work for t.v. and film.

[07] What roles have you done outside of the ones I know you from (Io and Solari)?

[08] I have played the part of "Chrissy" in Brian Friel's play Dancing at Lugnassa about an Irish family in 1930's -- great play and great part. I have recently filmed television movie and played "Lyndsey" a woman who has just had a baby. I had to wear a padded body suit that made me feel very heavy! Also, I played "Helena" in A Midsummer Night's Dream, to name a few roles. Last week, Xena needed a raunchy, tarty Bordello girl just for one scene and thought of me - chucked a wig on me and off I went.

Career And Fans

Where's the net?!

Ms. Dorday is an accomplished dancer as well as actress.

[09] How has your acting career affected your everyday life? Do you find people recognize you from your appearances?

[10] I have just started a two month stint on a popular "soap" called SHORTLAND STREET. I play the part of a young woman who returns from England to spend time with her buddy in New Zealand. She has multiple sclerosis. It is a particularly demanding role, a very emotional one. SHORTLAND STREET is the fastest turn-around soap in the world -- two and half hours commercial TV a week -- full on, fast paced stuff! There's many hours of learning to do after a full day of shooting as well, so no time for partying or socialising! Many people recognise you if you appear on New Zealand television because the population is so small.

[11] Do you make your living mainly from acting now? What other sorts of things do you do and what are your hobbies/other interests?

[12] I seem to have steady work acting. It's tough when you don't know what's coming up next or when. That would be the same for any actor anywhere in the world though. I like to keep up my dancing classes as much as I can. I also dive and swim (my mum has a holiday house on the Coromandel -- a beautiful spot on the east coast -- so I get down there whenever possible). I also love reading and learning.

[13] What role would you really like to get that you haven't been able to play yet?

[14] I would love a lead role in a movie -- playing a gutsy emotionally strong woman with high stakes to motivate her.

On the Set of Xena: Warrior Princess

You like my bird hat?  It's quite the fashion rage this

Solari was a replacement for Eponin, who was unavailable.

[15] Can you tell us a bit of what it's like on the set at Xena: Warrior Princess? I hear the pace can be very hectic -- lots to do and not a lot of time to do it.

[16] As I said before I had no idea what to expect on the set and I was surprised at how friendly, professional and efficient everyone was -- from the wardrobe people to the A.D's [Assistant Directors] to the caterers (beautiful food!). The pace is hectic with strict time lines on people -- but they are so professional and good at their job that it makes for a good atmosphere.


Um, do you have any *certified* medical training

A tale of two sidekicks, Solari and Gabrielle.

[17] What are some of your personal experiences from PROMETHEUS (#08), THE QUEST (#37), or A NECESSARY EVIL (#38) that come to mind? Some funny or memorable moments? Of course the scene with you and Bruce Campbell in QUEST where he goes fishing for a lock pick is infamous.

[18] A funny moment as "Solari" was when I had to flip a stunt woman over my shoulder. On the first take she landed with such a smack on the mat that I halted everything by rushing up to her and asking her if she was OK? She laughed, jumped up and said "yes of course"

[19] Can you tell us any "inside" stories about your experience with the episodes?

[20] The only "inside story" I have to tell is how wonderful Lucy Lawless is. The first time I worked with her as "Io" she was so kind and generous with her advice -- she knew it was my first "gig" on Xena, and was full of praises. Then a year later I turned up to do "Solari", she turned round and said "Hi Jodie - great to see you again". She's a wonderful woman who never has a bad word and always has a smile for everyone.

[21] How much were you able to bring to the character of Solari on your own? Were you minutely directed or could you just "go with it"?

[22] Playing "Solari" was great fun -- mainly due to Danielle Cormack who played "Ephiny". I was her side-kick Amazon buddy. Danielle is a great actress and also knows how to have a lot of fun. So we had a great rapport with each other, and this always reflects in the performance. On Xena, you just have to "go with it" -- the director is often so full on with technical problems or the overall product that you take risks and go hard out -- you'll soon be pulled back if it is too much.


Who can forget the immortal sequence in THE QUEST when Autolycus went fishing for a lockpick in Solari's bra?

[23] Solari was such an interesting character, it's a shame she didn't get more screen time. I understand from a conversation with Steven Sears (the one who wrote that episode) that the character of Solari was created because the actress who plays Eponin was unavailable for A NECESSARY EVIL (#38). Do you know of any plans to bring her back or will you appear on the show again?

[24] I don't know of any plans to bring "Solari" back -- I'd love to bring her back with more screen time! They often write characters back in the series to give a sense of history and time. I haven't seen the series yet so I'll let you know when I've seen it.

[25] Thanks very much for taking the time to answer -- it's very generous of you to give us your time.

[26] Great "talking" to you. Keep up the good work.

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