Xena Magazine #17 - Tsianina Joelson

Source: Titan`s Xena Magazine #17

In Dangerous Prey, Varia, the feisty Amazon from Coming Home, is out for blood. Prince Morloch has killed her beloved queen, and Varia's not going to take it lying down. On the other hand, Tsianina Joelson is willing to take anything this episode throws at her. She's been having a great time playing Varia, and in her own words, all this is "really, really cool."

There's a touch of familiarity in Joelson's character, who she describes as a "a staunch warrior, but sometimes not too bright because I don't think before I do things... I'm young, you know?"

Parallels could perhaps be drawn between Varia and the equally headstrong Amarice, played by Jennifer Sky in seasons four and five. According to Joelson, like Amarice, Varia tends to rush into things without thinking, which, in the case of Dangerous Prey, leads to dire consequences.

"Near the beginning of the episode, Marga [the Amazon Queen] has been killed, so we're out to avenge her murder and go after Morloch, the guy who did it," explains Joelson. "Xena shows up just as Marga is being killed, and I just take off; I'm ready to go kill this guy for murdering our queen. Xena goes into these catacombs after Morloch and tells me to stay outside. And of course I can't stay outside. I make a lot of stupid errors, and one of them leads to Morloch capturing me."

Being captured doesn't mean she doesn't get to fight, however. In fact, Joelson has done most of Varia's fight scenes in Coming Home and Dangerous Prey herself, and has really enjoyed the experience, especially getting over the tendency to smile when the fake punches were about to be thrown. "On the first day I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to look mean and angry when I had a fight scene," she recalls. "My big fear was that I was going to start smiling and cracking up. Actually, beating people up and stabbing and killing them was easy!

"At the start, when they were about to beat me up, I was thinking, 'Aah -they're going to hit me!' with this big smile on my face. But I have three or four fight scenes in Dangerous Prey, so I'm getting used to it now"

Although Joelson hadn't trained specifically in stunt work, she has been involved in other activities that she feels have helped prepare her for battle. "I was a dancer growing up," she says, "and I think that helps a lot. It's certainly really helped me in Xena; doing the fight sequences is a lot like learning a dance routine. Also, my sister was a black belt in a martial art, so I'd show her dance moves and she'd show me Karate moves."

Asked if she's naturally handy with a sword, Joelson makes an interesting parallel with what she is familiar with. "I used to twirl batons, so I play with sticks and swords and things, like I'd twirl a baton; it really looks like I know what I'm doing!"

Joelson is no stranger to the camera; she's been in independent and feature films in her home town of Los Angeles, and has hosted a "kind of a hip-hop, kick-boxing, workout show" on MTV But it was when she was cast as a guest actor in Xena that the excitement really hit home - literally.

"When I got the part, I was telling people about it, and they'd say, 'Oh my god, that's so cool...' because Xena is so popular in the States," she remembers. "All my friends back home are really excited, and I'm excited to be in New Zealand as well. Everyone is really cool, it's a great environment, and it's really gorgeous - and so much fun. I grew up in Oregon, and New Zealand looks so much like it. So it's really great. I'll have to bring my family here sometime!"

Joelson grins suddenly, commenting on the question of just where Dangerous Prey is set. "The costumes are great, but I think we must be someplace warm, because we're not wearing very much!"

Like most of those previously unfamiliar with working in New Zealand and on Xena specifically, Joelson expresses the enthusiasm which has become a recognisable refrain when asked to sum it all up. "It's great to be able to come down and get to fight and play," she says. "I've had a blast!"

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