Best known to TV audiences as Zhaan in Farscape, Virginia Hey now dedicates her time to teaching meditation across the country as well as perfecting her own line of soy candles and perfumes called Virginia Hey Couture. She sat down with the Daily Dragon to talk about acting, natural remedies, and the importance of meditation.
Daily Dragon (DD): How hard was it to take a break from acting after Farscape?
Virginia Hey (VH): It has been so strange! My whole world revolved around acting in Australia and the UK, so to come to the USA and be told I’m too old to enter the business (Hollywood ageist silliness) and to have to be catapulted away from my craft was really dreadful, but I found joy in my perfume and candle design and manufacturing.
DD: What made you come back for Alien Armageddon? Does this herald a return to the big and little screen for you?
VH: A friend asked me to be in his small indie film (Alien Armageddon) and I was toying with the idea of collecting current footage of myself and approaching an agent now that there is beginning to be work for we older gals… However, I don’t think that is now on the cards; truly I think I must move on and away from any notion of stepping back in. I think I should retire to be a perfumer fulltime; I think the acting train has long passed me by here in the USA.
DD: Do your holistic views influence your characters, and if so, how much?
VH: My holistic views haven’t influenced any of my non-spiritual characters at all in the past. My role as an actor was to bring the characters I played to life, and so I filled them with whatever I needed to achieve that. Only one role enabled me to fill the character with everything I knew spiritually, and that was Zhaan, the alien priest from Farscape.
DD: What drew you to meditation and natural therapies as a child?
VH: In 1966 when I was 14, my brother spent a summer with Buddhist priests in Tibet. He returned to Sydney with fascinating accounts of meditations and many books to share. I began enveloping myself in the books and it began a lifelong obsession for me to discover the relationship between the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies. I’m only human; please don’t forget that. I may be filled with knowledge of many esoteric and New Age principles and healing modalities, but I’m also just a human fraught with flaws. Sadly, some people presume I must be perfect, in the spiritual realm, and beyond human flaw. They become crazed with hate for me and a sense of enormous betrayal when they realize I’m just a human and get lost and needy just like everyone else in human form!
DD: How did those interests develop and change as your life experiences grew?
VH: It’s a very long story, but briefly, my natural remedy and perfume love began when mum would place flower heads in the bath when I was a toddler, instead of plastic toys. She wanted me to learn about all things of great beauty in nature and in the world, beginning with the simplest form of feminine magic. Perfume! We would make flower leis (flower necklaces) while I was in the bath and the perfume oils in the flowers would permeate into the warm bath water and end up on my skin–hence my first experience with delicate perfume. I developed a great love of floral oils, which led to me creating my own concoctions when I was a teen. As a model I had to maintain a healthy skin and body and maximum vitality and beauty, so natural health care was paramount. That led to an interest in natural remedies. Also a factor was my father’s fascination and love for engineering, architecture, figuring out how everything ticks, including the human computer–the physiology and anatomy of mind, body, spirit. I inherited his curious nature. Coupled with my mother’s fascination and brilliance for art and music composition, I was a walking sponge for knowledge of all things artistic and a hunger to solve the mysteries of physiology/spirituality. That’s it in a nutshell. But, this knowledge doesn’t alter the fact that I’m not perfect. Please don’t presume I’m perfect.
DD: What are your preferred/favorite natural therapies?
VH: Clean living.
DD: What is so important about meditation?
VH: Stress release. We all suffer from stress, especially me. Stress is the pre-cursor for all illness. So to be able to release the stress as soon as possible, one releases the possibility of illness. It’s also lovely to be able to have access to one’s inner core and be able to lower blood pressure at will.
DD: What are the benefits of natural therapies?
VH: Health. Wellness. Clarity.
DD: What is Reiki?
VH: Briefly, Reiki is Universal Life Force energy (that exists in everything) that we access from all around us and channel through us and out into others in order to help balance and heal. It is the exact same energy that exists in acupuncture, so it is not as bizarre as you may think! Anyone who administers acupuncture uses the energy that is also called Reiki to flow through energy meridians throughout the body. One does not have to be a super human to do this. You can be a flawed human and channel this beauty. It’s for everyone, and everyone has access to it when they need it. I don’t teach Reiki. My meditations contain the simplest form of Reiki energy I use to thoroughly relax my students. That’s all.
DD: I’ve heard Reiki is spiritual. Is Reiki a religion?
VH: Reiki is non-religious and non-spiritual. It is simply the energy that exists in nature that can be channeled very easily by everyone, if you know how. There is no magic to it. It is healing energy that all our forefathers used to heal themselves and others.
DD: How can Reiki and meditation be integrated into today’s world?
VH: It should be taught in all schools to instruct children how to de-stress and center and focus themselves. Adults should use meditation every day. The number one prescription from doctors these days is–yes, you guessed it–meditation!
DD: You’re offering a meditation workshop at Dragon*Con. What prompted you to offer it?
VH: I teach meditation at Dragon*Con every time I attend and have done so for many years. Actually I began teaching meditation at conventions due to popular demand; fans discovered that I filled my character Zhaan with a meditative process in order to build her and they were curious. That’s how it began in 2003. I used meditative processes from my personal life to build the character, and now I share some of those but in a really simple form that is so easy to absorb and enjoy.
DD: What do you like about Dragon*Con?
VH: Um, everything. [laughing] It’s the best convention on the planet, bar none! The artistic spirit is very present at Dragon*Con. I especially enjoy the costuming and would help judge the competition when I first attended, but I get so wiped out after a full day at my table that I had no steam left to stay out late in the evenings. Being at the signing table is like doing a 12-hour shift on chat radio. It’s very, very exciting and fun but really takes every ounce of energy, so after work I blob in my room gathering energy for the next day… so I can’t attend all the fun events in the evenings. Too pooped! [laughing] Getting old, I think! Ha ha! Dragon*Con is the most artistic of all the cons and attendees take great pride in their costuming and their hard work really shows. I do, however, always drag myself over to the Marriott to enjoy the costume “walk” circuit Sat night. It’s thrilling.
DD: What’s been your best moment at Dragon*Con?
VH: Every moment with the staff. They are so adored by me. Every one of them from Pat to Crista to Tom to Jesus to everyone in-between. Love, love, love, love them all. They make my stay perfect. And then the fans … same wonderful faces who bring joy to me every single year I’m there. However, a highlight had to be being carried on stage by the 501st when I was a costume judge the first year I attended. That’s one of the highlights of my entire life!
DD: What keeps you coming back to Dragon*Con?
VH: Everything about Dragon*Con! It’s a brilliantly run well-oiled delight-machine. From the first second I’m picked up from the airport by the most gracious and gorgeous staff, the hugs and kisses there, to being greeted at the hotel, hugs and warm smiles and kisses from everyone, it’s like coming home! To walking into the autograph room daily and seeing Tom’s happy face and snuggles. To the moment it opens to the attendees and they come flooding over to say hello to me full of stories and updates: laughter, tears, hugs, snapshots, children born, children off to colleges, tales of marriages, travels, ups and downs, and just plain old fashioned love. It’s home for me. Simple as that!
DD: Are there any organizations or causes you’d like to mention?
VH: Note from Virg, please donate to the RSPCA and RSPCC when you can.