A Life Changing Second

November 2006

A single second can change our lives forever. A kiss, a word...being told you have cancer.

Cancer is one of the most feared words in our world today. To hear that your body has betrayed you, that a personal battle must be waged inside, a battle unlike any other one can face. To wake up each day and know the struggle will continue; to have to have the sheer force of will to face that fight, day in and day out, a struggle that even those most dear to you can't begin to comprehend.

To fight cancer takes everything you have. It's a fight no one should have to take on alone. It is the time your family and your friends must rally to you, to support you, to move heaven and earth if need be for you.

There are few of us who do not know the pain of seeing a loved one suffer against this disease, as this unseen force attacks those dear to us. It is heartbreaking and always, we are left to feel helpless. We beg for some force that we can see, that we can lay siege to, to defend our loved one, protect them and guard them - but these are not things we can have.

So we support, we pillar.

Adrienne Wilkinson must be a pillar of support to one she loves now; a close friend dealing with a vicious form of cancer. But Adrienne is a caregiver, and cannot simply stand idle - she must do more. And she's asking for help.

"Life can throw such challenges at us sometimes, and in those times we all need a helping hand."

On November 1st, Adrienne will be holding a charity auction on behalf of her friend. "All of our proceeds will be going to cover the medical expenses of someone very dear to me who is going through a tremendously challenging time and could use the help."

Fans of Adrienne are no stranger to her kind and generous nature. Through her site, Adrienne is always open and communicative with her fans, whether via her forum, email or myspace. At the 2001 Xena convention in Pasadena, she even held a small fan brunch where twenty of her fans were invited to hang out, ask questions, and get photos and autographs. "I have to say about Xena fans [that] I'm just amazed by how loyal they are."

Both her roles and her personality have led to her being embraced by numerous fandoms. "I met someone in New York [at a convention], that was just weeping, saying that she was a recovering addict and that's how she saw Eve. That every week she would watch the episodes on tape for inspiration, because if a character can change that completely, [then] a real person can too."

I myself have been greatly inspired and influenced by Adrienne's overwhelming passion and enthusiasm, coupled with her curiosity, intelligence and kind hearted nature. It's impossible to have a conversation with Adrienne without being forced to sit back and re-evaluate your own views.

With every thing Adrienne does for her fans, it was still a shocking moment for me when I attended a play in Seattle to discover Adrienne had come up from LA, both to see the play and spend the evening with a few Xenites, including myself.

Adrienne discussed the upcoming charity. "I have cleaned out all of my closets and drawers to provide our largest selection ever. This is truly an amazing collection of items that we have spent months gathering and made available to the fans and for a good cause.

"We've gathered hundreds of items for the fans and collectors out there. We have items that will fit any budget from $5 to $1500. We have wardrobe, props, photos, scripts, jewelry, collectables and several one of a kind, unbelievable items that are available exclusively through our auction.

"We have items from Xena, Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 24, Point Pleasant, Charmed, Dark Angel and more. I have donated an enormous amount of my personal memorabilia from stage and screen and limited edition collectables from my childhood.

"The auction will begin on November 1st with new items added daily until we've added them all. We plan to have everything sold and shipped by early December - in time for the holiday season (perfect for gifts!). The auction, as usual will be done via eBay. You can visit adriennewilkinson.com where we will post the direct link to the auction as soon as it starts.

"Please stop by and see what we have. You may find something you've always wanted, or the perfect gift for someone else.

"Thank you in advance to everyone who participates."

Adrienne recently 'sat down' on October 2nd to graciously answer a few questions via email to share her insights on life and insights into Adrienne.

Bitch of Rome: If you could deliver one message to the world today, what would it be?

Adrienne Wilkinson: Whoa. You are bringing out the big guns to this interview! What a question. I think my biggest general message would simply be in acceptance and knowledge.

I find that so many of the biggest clashes in our world are caused by the misunderstandings and prejudices of culture and if we were all simply more aware and open, I think the violence and subsequent chaos and destruction would be a fraction of what it is today.

BoR: Since 9/11, slowly, but surely, new laws and/or procedures have come into effect in order to keep the public 'safe.' Do you believe the government is being held accountable or that we are all just accepting things that, before, would have been considered a violation of our civil rights?

AW: Well our collective consciousness has certainly changed since 9/11. Generally speaking, we all share the same goal of keeping people safe, and I don't think that most of us mind the inconvenience and scrutiny of increased security.

The only time I personally have been frustrated is when it reaches a level that seems like a waste of money or time - such as recently having my Chapstick confiscated at the airport as it fell into the category of 'security risk'. Surely there are more important things we could have spent that money and time on.

But I do sympathize with those who's job it is to keep us safe, as it is nearly impossible to combat the mindset of someone who would go to such extreme lengths to make a political or religious statement.

BoR: What do you believe is the most important thing to keep in mind when dealing with children and what's the coolest part about being an aunt?

AW: To remember that they are like sponges. Good and bad, they will soak up and be influenced by everything you do and say - so you have to keep that in mind as the tiniest thing you say, could effect how they view the world, themselves or how their opinions and self esteem develop for their lifetime.

I love being an aunt. My niece is spectacular. She is so funny and at such a young age she is already so fully 'herself'. She has such opinions, such personality and so much love in her heart. She makes my day brighter whenever I see or talk to her.

BoR: What's your favourite and least favourite thing about working on independent films?

AW: The best part is the creative collaboration. Generally on such a small budget, everyone involved truly loves the project, wants to be there and loves what they are doing, purely for the job of creating. It can be wonderfully rewarding.

The down side is that you are tremendously limited by your budget; so many of the visuals you are wanting (any extra bells and whistles) have to be put to the side. It also means that distributing your film is far less likely.

When you have studio backing, you know your work will be released to the public, but on independent films, you have to hope that the right people see your film, so that distribution is even an option.

BoR: What do you enjoy most about voice acting?

AW: Probably the best part is that you aren't limited to how you look. As a voice actor I get to audition for and play parts that I would never be considered for in real life.... whether that means playing crazy creatures...or just being able to play ages, races, and types that I wouldn't be considered for on camera.

BoR: If you were to play a character whose entire role was a thirty second monologue, what would the monologue be about?

AW: What a random question. I have no idea. It would have to be an amazing piece that would capture attention that quickly...but then again - amazing moments in life boil down to just a few seconds: a birth, a death, a breakup, wedding vows, violence. You can boil life down to those seconds that change the landscape of who you are...it would be a monologue like that.

BoR: You've said you've been surprised after seeing the final edit of scenes. Can you give an example of a scene that didn't work for you after editing and one that you were pleasantly surprised by?

AW: I'm often surprised. So many times how you expect a scene will play and how it actually does play on screen are vastly different. Both good and bad.

As an example, I'm always amazed at the finished product after the special effects have been added. In real life you were acting opposite a tennis ball, and on screen it is transformed into a monster...it's an incredible process.

On the flip side, I find that truly emotional scenes are sometimes lost on film. Particularly emotional scenes...I know several times I've found myself weeping in a scene, but tears don't read particularly well on camera unless they are lit a certain way...so often times emotional scenes don't feel as 'deep' on camera if they didn't capture certain angles etc.

It's always depressing when you felt a scene was very powerful and then it feels less connected on screen. But that's the magic of the process...its unpredictable and everyone works together to make that magic actually work.

BoR: You played Phoebe masterfully in the season eight premiere of Charmed. How did you prepare for playing such an established role?

AW: I watched several episodes of the series, paying special attention to the mannerisms and idiosyncrasies of each character. Trying to make it as real and obvious, without being 'over the top' as possible.

Once I was on set, my biggest shock was that I'm so much taller than Alyssa Milano, so we had to pay close attention to the 'magic' to make sure that we were in exactly the same alignment.

BoR: After your guest spot on ER, your website released footage of you doing your own stunt of Jessica dropping from a breaking balcony. What made you want to do your own stunt? What safety precautions are taken to allow an actor to perform such a stunt, because, in the video, it looked like you were nearly hit with falling debris?

AW: Doing my own stunt was a requirement for the role. They would only see actresses who were not afraid of heights and who were willing to wear the harness and do the stunt.

To clarify, I did not do the entire stunt...yes what you saw on the site video was me...but my stunt double (Tina Mahler) did the entire fall through the balcony ledges, including the landing. She fell through about 40 feet of wood planks. I only fell about 15 feet through one set of balconies, instead of three. I had to do mine 3 times I think, where she had additional takes to make sure they got the exact correct angles.

And yes the debris was actually the most dangerous part and I had the bruises to prove it.

BoR: You played Jane in Closer on stage. Your character was a self-injurer. Did you do any research on the disorder for the role?

AW: Sure. I research every role that I can, as thoroughly as possible. I'm sure every person who has ever been a 'cutter' has his or her own back-story that creates the need for that release, but often it's about control. Having something that you alone can control about yourself and your body when the rest of your world is spiraling out of control. The high created from going to such extremes. The release. The rush of adrenaline from the destruction. Fortunately it's not something I have ever personally been drawn to in any way, but I can understand the addiction and compulsion behind the process.

It's a heartbreaking thing because all any of us want is to be safe and secure, and who can protect you when the destruction is at your own hands? Our biggest responsibility in life is to take care of ourselves, and it's amazing the ways we can find to hurt ourselves, whether that is spiritually, mentally or physically.

The biggest gift you can give to yourself and to anyone you love is to take care of yourself. Treat yourself well. We forget sometimes that people follow our leads...if you don't treat yourself with love and respect; it's not likely others will either.

The character of Jane (also known as Alice Ayers) had a very complicated back-story. In addition to the self-injury, she further infected herself so that her scars would be far more prominent and dangerous (put her more at risk). She also hurt herself often in a bid to get the attention of men. At its grandest scale, she admits to stepping out in front of cars (and being hit by them) multiple times in her life. Sadly her story ends when again she steps in front of a moving car, but she doesn't survive the accident.

BoR: What's the strangest thing you've autographed?

AW: Hmmmm, I know I autographed fruit one time (seemed strange to me to autograph perishables). Oh, I got it. Someone once asked me to sign their assistance dog. I signed the collar.

BoR: Would you ever do an event like Celebrity Duets, or something along those lines that showcases your singing talent?

AW: Sure. I would be more likely to be attracted to something like Dancing With the Stars, as I love to dance even more than I love to sing...but yes I'd be open to any ideas like that. Iteseems like a very fun experience.

BoR: If you were to attend a convention as a fan of your favourite show, what show would it be, and who would you dress up as?

AW: It may seem hard to believe but I'm far too shy to ever do that. I would never dress up in costume at an event like that. I'm always impressed by those who do because I wouldn't have the guts to do so in a setting like that. I'll wear any costume needed on stage or screen for a character but in real life I shy away from that kind of attention.

Most of my favourite shows don't offer conventions (though they should) but I would love to talk to the actors in any setting and hear about their work and what it is like to work on their shows.

BoR: What has been the most interesting wake up call from your dog?

AW: My dog often sleeps with me...she's so cute, and she's not a morning "person" ;) I'm almost always up before she is. She will stay in bed for three hours or more after I'm up just sleeping and cuddling, all burrowed under the covers. It's the cutest thing ever.

She has so much personality, and has no idea that she is a dog.

BoR: If you had run away as a kid and joined the circus, what would your act have been?

AW: Honestly circuses freak me out a little bit because the animals often seem miserable. So as much as I love to be around animals, I wouldn't want to be part of that.

But to choose an act I would say: The trapeze. I would love that. I also love cirque de sole and there are several acts that incorporate so many skills that are amazing and beautiful. I'm not scared of heights and love anything that has some grace to it. Seems far more exciting than the tight rope...

BoR: What would you consider your personal style to be?

AW: Elegant but sexy. Confident without trying too hard. Classic but contemporary...at least these are all ways that I would hope my personal style could be interpreted.

BoR: You're fascinated by a wide variety of topics and you always seem to know an interesting assortment of facts. What makes something spark your interest?

AW: I just love learning. I'm obsessed with NPR (National Public Radio) and listen to it at least part of everyday. I stopped watching the local news years ago, because it is far less news than it is some fluff entertainment show. I still watch CNN and other world news though.

I'm just fascinated by stories. Other people, other cultures, what makes us the same and what makes us different. I try to be open to whatever is around and learn about where I'm working and whomever I meet.

BoR: We conducted our first interview six years ago when you were twenty-three. What has been the most significant thing you've learned in that time?

AW: That you never know what to expect. In good and bad ways, life hands you things that you would never have thought possible. I think who we are is determined by how we let those things affect us. Who we choose to be each moment through the challenges we face, the rewards we receive and what we accept in others and in ourselves everyday.

Interviews With Adrienne Wilkinson

Read prior Bitch of Rome interviews with Adrienne Wilkinson:

- Beyond Xena
- The Final Chakram Throw
- Welcome to the Xenaverse
- 2001 Fan Brunch transcript

Ray: A Drop of Golden Sun

Though all fans of Adrienne Wilkinson know she can act, they don't all know she can also sing!

Adrienne performing at the 2005 Seattle Xena Convention:

The This to the That

Last thing Adrienne Wilkinson bought on eBay?
"A book. The latest edition of the Hollywood Creative Directory."

Coffee shop beverage?
"I don't drink coffee...but I love tea, cocoa, chai, etc. I usually get a chai tea, green tea or hot vanilla."

Too tired to cook. It's too late to order in. What does Adrienne have for supper?
"Does no cooking mean that even the microwave is off limits? Well obviously it would have to be very simple...cereal, fruit, or if I need junk food then ice cream."

A Few of Her Favourite Things

If Adrienne could only watch one movie for the rest of her life:
"Whoa, that's a tough one. Honestly I think I would go insane if that was the case. It would have to be something that made me happy - made me laugh and smile. Something that is smart and timeless. Maybe something like The Philadelphia Story. They used to talk so fast in old films that it's practically like getting two films in one, by today's standards."

Her favourite books:
"There are tons that I love and that I turn to like comfort food or a familiar friend...serious books and fluff...The Witching Hour, The Great Gatsby, Sophie's Choice, East of Eden, Fountainhead, The Sun Also Rises, The Other Boleyn Girl and more and more..."

Childhood series she'd most like to see released on DVD:
"I don't collect DVDs but there are several old shows that I would love to see again....Fraggle Rock, Kids Incorporated, Jem and the Holograms, Fame. And I just found out that this great old Disney movie called The Gnome Mobile was released on DVD. I loved that movie as a kid. Haven't seen it in years, but I would hope it is just as magical now as it was 20 years ago."

Look, Ma, I'm a Stuntie!

Adrienne performed her own stunt fall on ER: