Interview With A Fangirl: Alexina
I am continuing with my series of interviews with Fangirls that I have met through social media!
Today, it is my pleasure to interview Fangirl Alexina Duncan, who is a freelance costumier and part-time space general based in London and working in the UK film industry England.
I became aware of Alexina through a recent Future of the Force interview about her costuming efforts, especially the Hera cosplay she did at Star Wars Celebration Orlando in April 2017.
Welcome Alexina to The Adventures of The Everyday Fangirl and thank you for taking the time to answer these questions about being a Fangirl.
When do you realize you were a Fangirl?
I’m not sure when I would say I had that dawning realization – it’s always been a part of who I am. I was raised on a steady diet of science fiction from birth – books, films and tv mostly. Eventually I went on to discover videogames and comics on my own, which I then fed back and shared with my mum. We are in an endless, self-perpetuating nerd culture cycle!
I guess around 2000 or 2001 was when I became a fangirl. That was when I got online, discovered fangroups and fansites, message boards and mailing lists and – most of all – fanfic. I had always shared things with people in real life, written my own little stories, but that’s when I became aware that this was a wider, shared thing.
How has social media helped or hindered you?
Fandom social media is just incredible. And awful! For me the positivies far outweight the negatives. I’m a naturally solitary person who works long, difficult hours whilst managing my chronic illness. Over the years, that’s led to a lot of lost friends and isolation, but social media allows me to maintain a sense of community, to meet like minded people from all over the world, and maintain frienships that would risk fading because of schedule or distance. Particularly over the last year where I have tried to push myself and have started interacting with the cosplay and costuming community I have really felt, for the first time in a long long time, like I am actually a part of something. I have been in fandom for a long time but now I am finally in a community and it overwhelms and delights me nearly every day.
When did you first see Star Wars or other favorite fandom, such as Star Trek, Lord of The Rings, etc. and did you love it right away or did this grow on you over time?
My first or second memory is of me explaining the Empire Strikes Back to my dad when I was two or three, so it has always been a vital part of my life that has guided and influenced me. Star Trek was equally a crucial part of my childhood, and I’ve found it fascinating how my response to these films and shows has shifted, my perceptions of stories and characters hve evolved as I have developed and grown. Doctor Who was also a vital part of my childhood, though I have to live forever alone with my non-canon favourite Doctor (Peter Cushing in the two Doctor Who movies!) The list of fan favourites that have always been a core part of my life is long. I grew up in the ‘90’s which was such a wonderful golden age for these fan favourites, and I was so lucky to have a mother that shared them with me and still shares and loves them. Not only that, but to have so many wonderful women in genre to look up to and aspire to – Leia, Padme, Aeryn, Sam Carter, Janeway, B’Elanna…I’m always grateful for them.
What have you learned from the Star Wars fan community or other fan communities that has had a positive impact on your life?
It’s a gathering place, essentially. Somewhere were this community can meet and flourish and evolve. It’s a platform for those who would never otherwise have a voice; a way for people to meet and share and bond that would never otherwise meet. By being involved in online fandom I hear points of views that I would never have considered. It enriches and expands the fandom, and I’m educated every day.
The sheer amount of creativity on display everyday, whether in art, fic, cosplay, meta or just the beautiful rambling conversations that grow out of a tiny idle critique of comic art into what you could call an exploration of the female gaze that led to beautiful fanart. There is so much talent in fandom and there is a level of feedback and collaboration. Venturing into the cosplay side of fandom in the last year, I have had the warmest and most incredible welcome. The level of support and interest in my work is overwhelming, which I then get the opportunity to give back to the community by offering advice and techniques to others. Heras helping Heras. The work and resources that are available and shared is invaluable.
What else do you Fangirl about?
My biggest passion is costume – it’s my life, my work, my hobby. I have a degree in costume and have been working in the industry for seven years. 98% of the time I will be shouting about some minor costume detail (whether its right or wrong!) on screen and that will be my way into a story or character. Somehow, for some reason, I have only started cosplaying in this past year. I think because costume was this external tool that I applied to others and translated. Costume is the ultimate storytelling devise. Even if you don’t notice the costumes (for instance, consider George Lucas insisting that the costumes in the original Star Wars be ‘invisible’) they are working hard to tell you everything that you need to know. History, character and hints towards the narrative to unfold. They’re always there in the colours, the silhouette.
Anything else you want to say to others about being a Fangirl?
Being a fangirl isn’t about labels. It isn’t about doing things right, being a ‘one true fan’. It’s about loving what you loving and sharing that, letting that passion grow in whatever works for you. It’s about not blindly loving something but being open to critiquing your darlings, expect more more and allowing others to let their voices be heard. We deserve the very best stories. Fan communities gather out of a need to celebrate a story or a character and it is very easy to get bogged down in maudlin, self-defeating cynicism. We are all guilty of it – I am especially guilty of it! Sometimes we need to stop and just remember why we’re here and where fandom has led us.
What cool things are you doing?
I cosplay as a part of the Rebel Legion Elstree Base, primarly as the best pilot in the galaxy, Hera Syndulla. I also write essays critiquing and analysing costume on screen and will shortly be starting my Masters in Fashion Cultures.
Where can others interact with you?
You can find me on Twitter and Tumblr at @xenadd and @poetryincostume, on Instagram as @poetryincostume, or on my blog poetryincostume.com