Julia: How did you get cast in Xena?
Claire: They offered me the part. They had seen me on X-Files playing the Jersey Devil.
I had been pretty lucky and had worked steadily as an actress for a few years. I never really had a big break, I just managed to pay the bills and travel to some great places.
Julia: Did you have any idea that this would come to be such an influential role in your life?
Claire: I really just wanted to go to New Zealand! I had no idea.
Julia: Tell me about the conventions and how your approach to them changed over time.
Claire: I was so afraid to get on stage and talk for 45 minutes alone! But I needed the money and it seems like a great way to challenge myself. I soon got the hang of it and then really loved performing and telling stories to such a rapt audience. Xena fans are the best in the world.
Julia: Aside from allowing you to start your clothing company, C&C, what other surprising things has that experience afforded you?
Claire: I was able to do a convention every other weekend across the country. It allowed me to start my own company, and I will be forever grateful to the fans for that. I also had the opportunity to perform at the cabaret nights. I acted in plays, I did dance numbers, comedy sketches, etc. I even started making doll movies that I sold with my headshot. I used the action figure for each character and the actors themselves would come to my house, have some wine, and do the voice-overs for the video. We got pretty naughty and pushed the (not so subtle) lesbian undertones of Xena Princess Warrior.
The fans are also very giving and charitable. When I was working with my friend Martha Adams on her documentary Girl Rising, the fans donated and helped me make the merchandise to promote the film’s release.
One of the the ten girls they follow in the film is actually named after Xena. Her name is Cena (her father could not read or write). Her father, who passed away, had wanted her to be a strong warrior and to always protect herself. This was so inspiring to me and to the fans. They all lined up after the showing of the clip of Cena and they donated whatever money they had. Some gave just a dollar. In the end, we raised over $3,ooo.00.
Julia: Why do you think Xena fans are so loyal? The show has not been on for 15 years, yet the conventions are still going.
Claire: I think Xena fans love the community: the camaraderie, the shared interest, and the lifestyle free from any judgment. I love them!
Julia: In your third (maybe fourth) life, you are an exceptional interior designer, having worked on numerous residential homes and some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. What do you want to see/experience in restaurant interiors?
Claire: I love decorating. I covet things for the home – the perfect vase, pillow, rug, etc. I do it for fun so it made perfect sense to get paid for it.
Julia: What are some things that you try to do differently when thinking through these spaces?
Claire: I try to reuse existing pieces by reupholstering or oxidizing the metal. I try and let the bones of the space shine.
Julia: How did your vintage Heath collection begin?
Claire: I bought my first piece at OK in LA 15 years ago. I loved it so much I started hunting online and then discovered all the vintage stuff on Ebay. I bought it all up for good prices. Vintage stuff is my favorite.
Julia: Your life is beautiful, your kids are beautiful, you are beautiful, but somehow you do not seem to have any ego. Have you always been this way?
Claire: I have always been a bit shy and never felt confident about my looks.
Julia: Even when you were working primarily as a model and an actress?
Claire: I was not a very successful model and as an actress my favorite parts were always when I looked dirty and haggard. I do not feel comfortable dolled up.
But yes, my kids are beautiful and yes, that makes my life beautiful too. Thank you so much. xoxoxo