Strange but true fact: I once interviewed Xena, Warrior Princess on a swing after she'd won the title of Mrs New Zealand. This was back in February 1989 when I was a [very!] young reporter for the New Zealand Herald in Auckland. Lucy Lawless was a 21-year-old from Mt Eden long before she was Xena, Warrior Princess.
Lawless had beaten 14 other contenders for the title Mrs New Zealand, earning her a trip to Las Vegas for the Mrs World 1989 contest. Among the judging criteria were personality and attractiveness. But Lawless was faced with selling the family car so her husband Garth and seven-month-old daughter Caitlin could accompany her.
She expressed surprise at winning despite some part-time modelling experience, when she wasn't busy being a wife and mother. [Lawless actually said this, I'm not making it up - check the New Zealand Herald archives for February 13, 1989 if you like.] "I'm hopeful this will be a first step towards a career in TV journalism," she said.
The article notes that Lawless was fluent in four languages. Somewhat bizarrely, it also makes much of the fact her dad wasn't around for the victory. Lawless's father Frank Ryan was far more famous than her at the time - he'd been mayor of Mt Albert in Auckland for 20 years.
Mayor Ryan was too busy playing law bowls to witness his daughter's success at the Akarana Royal Yacht Club, but Garth and Caitlin were there. Husband Garth Lawless was happy to express his support: "If Lucy wants to do this, I'm happy to help her."
[If you're wondering about the photo, it's a terrible reproduction of a great picture taken by NZ Herald snapper Geoff Dale - sorry about the quality, Geoff, my fault, not yours! You can see far better examples of Geoff's stunning work at his website. He even does some acting, you know. I remember his Maggi ad well...]