Gabby Bourne on Tri Bourne: Navigating and Embracing the Unknown

I’d been talking to Gabby for fifteen minutes. The two things I learned about her were: 

  1. She and her husband Tri recently sold their home and bought a one-way ticket to Hawaii. 
  2. She’s an actor and, of course, Tri is a professional beach volleyball player. Both of those jobs are dreams of theirs, ones with small windows of success for a finite amount of people. 

I liked her immediately. 

Gabby and Tri Bourne have been together for over a decade. In that time, they’ve graduated from the University of Southern California, lived on different continents, gotten engaged, battled an autoimmune disease, traveled the world, got married, and had a baby girl. Gabby has been acting in shows the whole time – getting parts on shows like Animal Kingdom and NCIS as well as writing and producing her own. Tri has been… well, you know Tri Bourne. Potential Olympian until he fell ill for almost two years; now a potential Olympian again only to face a global pandemic that sets his run back another year (at least). 

Though Tri is bold in his quest for volleyball glory, he wasn’t the aggressive type when Gabby first met him on a camping trip to Kern River through mutual friends. “He wasn’t forward or the pushy type when it comes to girls,” Gabby says. “He’s kind of laid back, that Hawaii style. He’s a funny, fun guy to be around. So that’s what initially sparked my interest. I kinda knew he was so different from anyone I had dated in the past. It was easy for me to know; I was pretty clear that he was the guy I wanted to be with pretty early on.” She was right. Tri and Gabby dated for seven years, were engaged for one, and have now been married three. 

While Tri has been a volleyball player since college – first indoor and now beach – Gabby has bartended and started a woodworking business, but her primary focus has always been acting. “I’ve had good years and bad years, busy years and slow years,” she says. “But I’ve always seen acting as a lifelong path.” 

Volleyball will one day be in Tri’s past. Gabby plans to act forever, transitioning roles as she grows into her craft and age. “You’re never past your prime in acting,” she says. “You just keep getting better with age and practice if you’re studying it. I’ve always wanted to create a full life for myself, do things that I can make money from that fulfill me. And I’m in acting for the long haul.” 

With Tri going for the Olympics and Gabby going for an Oscar, this couple has their sights set high. And rather than recoil from the task, they go at it full steam ahead. “Obviously, our jobs and dreams are really different,” Gabby says. “But we’ve found through the years that they really line up a lot in terms of creating it for ourselves. And the amount of work you put in is what you get out; you have to wholeheartedly go into it not knowing what the result is gonna be. You have to put in the work and trust you’re gonna get where you want to be.” 

Not only do they both have the work ethic, but they also receive unending support from their partner. “Tri is super understanding. We balance each other out. Luckily we’ve never had a moment where both of us break at the same time. It’s always one of us wavering on our dreams, and the other person can build back up and talk through it.” Gabby is the talker, always one to sit down and sort through feelings. And while Tri is more reserved, their opposite methods work in tandem to continue bolstering morale and motivation. 

The Bournes needed a lot of motivation and support when Tri was battling his autoimmune disease. That time was extra tough financially because Gabby was having a slow year acting. “But looking back,” she says, “it was one of the best times of my life. We enjoyed each other stress-free and trusted that we’d get back to where we needed to be.” 

Trust. That is the thread that runs through the Bournes lives, marriage, and careers. “Part of doing what we do and not needing the security of knowing what’s going to happen is just trust,” Gabby says. “There are going to be lows; you’re gonna get thrown a bunch of curveballs. But if you put in the effort and have each other for the support… that’s been huge for us.” 

Gabby’s faith in herself and Tri was inspirational. I could tell it wasn’t just talk. With all these two have been through – and they’re both still reaching for their lofty dreams – I was just impressed. They’re clearly perfect together, both pushing each other and wholly understand the nuances and complications of actualizing your dream as a profession. 

“We’re doing it because we love it, and it fills our souls,” Gabby says, “not because we’re looking to be super secure. Some people hate that feeling; I totally get that. Especially with the pandemic – that feeling of the unknown. But I think if you can embrace it, it gets a lot easier. And neither of us could do what we do and be willing to fall without the other person.”

They also rely on each other when it comes to raising their daughter, Naia, who was a welcome surprise. Gabby was writing and producing a pilot, and Tri was going for the Olympics when they found out she was pregnant almost two years ago. Gabby shot her pilot while pregnant and then slowed down her career to have their daughter. Tri was embarking on the Olympic Qualification period, an inflexible period that only comes around once every four years. He’s also in his prime, playing with longtime friend Trevor Crabb. They’re in contention for the very prestigious honor of representing the USA in Tokyo. 

The Bournes decided that Gabby would slow her career to focus on Naia while Tri pushed for the Olympics. “You give, and you take,” she says. “Leading up to the Olympics, it was like: your dream is right there. It’s right in front of you. Let’s put all our energy into that.” 

But even with the focus on Tri, they haven’t forgotten Gabby’s dream. “I make sure he gets his stuff in first because the Olympics are within reach,” she says. “And then he does whatever he can in his extra time to make sure I get what I need. I need him to be the reader for my self-tapes. So after we put Naia down, we stay up late. He’s had a full day out, and he’s exhausted and can’t function, but he still reads with me to put an audition on tape. It’s a balancing act.” 

Pre-pandemic, life was looking peachy. Tri was healthy and well-positioned for the season. Gabby’s had booked a couple of recurring roles. And then everything shut down. Suddenly, the Olympics didn’t seem so within reach. Tri’s dream was further, which meant Gabby’s was too. 

But they wasted no time on moping; this wasn’t life’s first curveball, after all. “Tri’s autoimmune stuff prepared us for this,” Gabby wisely says. “It first came on the year we got married. We had so many plans those years, and we just realized you can’t plan. You have to take things as they come, day by day.”

They adopted that mantra then, and it’s become their philosophy: day by day. “We’ve both been blessed with a mindset of not looking too far into the future,” Gabby says. “We just kind of see what’s going to happen tomorrow.” 

And tomorrow for Gabby, Tri, and Naia Bourne looks like a beach day in Hawaii. The Bournes will be there cross-training, relaxing, and spending time with Tri’s family. This is the plan until Gabby’s shows return to production, hopefully in early December. But, of course, they’re not sweating the details. Early December is a lifetime away.