spoke with the Peninsula Daily News
this week about how she found this
part of the world, how she came to
be the guest of honor at Sunday's
"Hollywood Nights" Oscar party to
benefit the Olympic Medical Center
Foundation in Port Angeles, and
another topic that clearly fires her
potential. Ever since she was a
girl, Wagner has been fascinated by
the possibilities of the mind and
"I wanted to
be a psychologist. But I was
dyslexic, so I couldn't get through
college," she began.
tall blonde, hit her stride in her
30s in a string of TV dramas,
miniseries, some 40 made-for-TV
movies, specials and documentaries
and 10 feature films, including
1973's "Paper Chase" with John
Houseman and "Nighthawks" with
Sylvester Stallone in 1981.
anyone who watched TV between 1976
and 1978 knows, it was "The Bionic
Woman," about a tennis pro empowered
by experimental medical implants,
that sparked her breakthrough to big
She won an
Emmy for the role in 1977.
was like my playground, if you
will," Wagner said.
Woman' had given me such strength in
the industry - pardon the pun - that
they would let me do issue-oriented
1970s, she persuaded producers to
make movies about taboo subjects
such as child abuse, with the goal
of helping viewers examine how such
issues affected their lives.
to help people transcend traumas,
"not just 'live through it.'"
But with the
proliferation of cable TV channels
during the 1980s, what Wagner calls
the "big bang" of the industry,
producers stopped taking such risks.
from three channels to a hundred,"
she said. "Everybody was scrambling,
and grasping at the lowest common
denominator. Sensationalism got
revved up. They were looking to do
things the cheapest way, so there
were the reality shows."
brought a movie idea to a producer,
he or she would demand that more
violence, more sex or both be added
to the story, she said.
"So I just
watched the place that used to be
where I could work, the place that
brought me joy, disappear."
Wagner decided to take time out.
studying Eastern and Western
spiritual-healing modalities, and in
2001 she became involved with a
program in the Los Angeles County
Jail system that helped domestic
violence offenders reconnect with
"A new life
started developing," she said. After
two years away from the
entertainment industry, she asked
herself if it was time to go back.
was no to the past, and yes to a
future that was only beginning to
take shape. Wagner continued her
self-directed studies, with guidance
from people she calls her team of
"I met some
extraordinary teachers and
counselors," who came from within
religious traditions and outside
She became a
practitioner in energy psychology,
and has since traveled to India to
continue her study of spiritual
leads two- and three-day seminars
titled "Quiet the Mind & Open the
Heart," at conference centers across
North America and Europe.
blend of retreat and workshop, she
said, during which participants
delve into how their past
experiences - their inner file
cabinets, as it were - color their
perceptions of the world.
experience of any life circumstance
is a function of our perspective,"
a particular incident causes real
pain, but the body has the capacity
to heal from it - if we allow that
to take place.
intelligent, divine creations, we
humans," Wagner said, adding that
past experiences with family and
society can program us to react in
ways that rob the joy from daily
seminars, Wagner helps people
explore their prior programming, and
then shift their perspectives beyond
it, "to experience life as it is in
and lows are like waves, Wagner
believes. "We're constantly building
sea walls to not experience the
crest of the wave," she said,
"because we think we can't handle
understanding and observing the
waves, one gains power, and a fresh
perspective on life, in all of its
tumult and exhilaration.
her home in the Los Angeles area for
much of the year.
But a chance
encounter with two passengers on an
airplane led her, about four years
ago, to a sunny spot on the North
Olympic Peninsula, where she now
mates told Wagner about Sequim's
microclimate, and though she was
skeptical, she flew up to look at
places in early 2005.
quite right until real estate agent
Sherry Siegel showed her a house
near a lavender farm and the Strait
of Juan de Fuca.
possession of the house 45 days
later," Wagner remembered.
years ago, she donated a dinner in
her home to the Boys & Girls Clubs
of the Olympic Peninsula's benefit
owner of Thomas Building Center in
Sequim, was the winning bidder.
Rand, his wife, Darlene, and Wagner
have become friends as well as
ardent advocates of the Boys & Girls
It was Rand
and Darlene Thomas, major donors to
the Olympic Medical Center, who
asked Wagner to appear at the
benefit Oscar party in Port Angeles
she knows her fame as the bionic
woman remains the prism people peer
through when they first meet her.
But Wagner exudes a new kind of
energy, and the feeling that she's
found her right livelihood.
is in sharing with other people the
things that have helped me in my
life," she said. For the "Quiet the
Mind" seminars, "I've chosen the
things I feel fan our human
potential," be they scientific
concepts about brain function or
explorations of soul and spirit.
"We are so
much more than we hold ourselves to
be," Wagner said. Shifting
perspectives on life "is not a
religion. It's a human phenomenon.
It's waking up to your potential."