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LEGO Star Wars Animation Panel Highlights and Interview with Moderator Steve Dunk

LEGO Star Wars Animation Panel Highlights

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Lucasfilm’s Leland Chee and LEGO’s Jason Cosler.

One of my must see panels at Star Wars Celebration Chicago was the LEGO Star Wars Animation Panel with Bill Motz and Both Roth. This panel, moderated by Steve Dunk, dived into the creative process and what it took to create both the LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures and All-Stars animation series. The panelists included the creators of these series, Bill Motz and Bob Roth, Lucasfilm’s Leland Chee and LEGO’s Jason Cosler.

Whiteboards at Lucasfilm were used to capture production notes

All shared stories of how these shows came together and included slides of story boards, whiteboard notes and drawings, character concept art and discussion of the creative and production process. There were a few videos shared including two unaired clips and a really funny video from Wil Film, who was the animation studio for both The Freemaker Adventures and All-Stars.

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Droidography as told by Roger

The biggest surprise of the panel was when Matthew Woods, who voiced Roger in both animated series came in near the end, just when they were discussing if Droidography was Canon or not. Matt not only talked about his role as Roger, but also his role as voice director for these series.

Alan Tudyk and Kelly Marie Tran reprise their roles in LEGO form

Overall, I was very happy I made it to this panel. As an added bonus, I was able to catch up with Moderator Steve Dunk after the panel was over and ask him about what it took to put this amazing panel together.

Interview with Steve Dunk

Steve Dunk introduces the panelists

Patty: What first gave you the idea to have this panel?

Steve: I had been watching/covering The Freemaker Adventures since it started. As a huge fan of the show naturally I reached out to Bill and Bob and we started a relationship, first just interviewing them and then into a friendship. So, when I heard All-Stars would be their last bit of Star Wars, and Celebration was coming up, it made sense that they should get a proper sending off.

Patty: How do you decide what to discuss in the panel in the time slot you had?

Steve: You start by writing down all the things you love about the shows and any unanswered questions you might have. Then you realize you’ve got hours of material that need to be cut down to one! So, you just start prioritizing, making cuts, and deciding what’s most important.
Getting behind the scenes content, video, and which guests are on your panel very much determines your schedule because that takes up a good chunk of the time. Each one needs to be paid attention to otherwise they’re just sitting up there for no reason.

Patty: How did this panel differ from other panels you have been involved with before?

Patty: It was more important to me because it was also very personal. I love these characters so much and I hold Bill and Bob in such high regard that letting them down wasn’t an option. You always have a stake in what your doing, but this was different.
Basically, I worked harder at this then anything I’d done in the past.

Patty: How difficult was to schedule the guests for the panel, especially Matthew Woods?

Steve: Aside from Bill and Bob, who were in from the start, Jason Cosler and Leland Chee were surprisingly easy. It helped that they were both already attending Celebration but when I reached out to them, they were ecstatic to be a part of celebrating Bill and Bob. At one-point Michael Kramer was going to be a guest but he had to drop out due to his schedule.
Matthew Wood was trickier. He was of course already attending but was very busy all weekend, particularly that day. This was something we worked on for weeks and even still that day we were ironing out the details. I owe him a lot because he basically ran to our panel, stayed to the end, and then had to run off to something else. It was crazy and somehow the timing worked out perfectly.

Patty: What kind of research did you have to do for this panel?

Steve: This was the easy part actually! Like I said, this show means a lot to me and of course I run the Freemaker Facts, so no research was necessary. Really, it was just preparing for the day itself and getting to Fan Stage for rehearsals which took place on Thursday.

Character concept art for LEGO Star Wars All-Stars by Kilian Plunkett

Patty: How difficult was it to get the behind the scenes photos and character artwork shown during the panel?

Steve: Not necessarily difficult as it was just a matter of getting Lucasfilm and LEGO to approve it. Bob helped with that part, making sure those requests went to the right people more quickly. Same as the unaired video clips, we put in the request and waited for the approval. It helped that I had a bit of a relationship going there, where they were familiar with me.

Patty: Did the fan community help you with planning for this panel?

Steve: Not the planning part, but the inspiration. I love the Freemaker fans and I heard from many who were excited about it, even ones that couldn’t be there. I had them in mind for some of the content, knowing they would enjoy it as much as I would.

Patty: Is there anything else you would like to share about the panel not already mentioned?

Steve: Sure. At one point I was going to assemble a video of cast members, in/out of character, saying hello to Bill and Bob. I just ran out of time and it’s too bad because it would have been amazing to see that.
Just a huge thanks to Wil Film, LEGO, Lucasfilm, and the fans that showed up. I had such a great time meeting everyone.

Galaxy’s Edge Experience at Star Wars Celebration

During Star Wars Celebration 2019 in Chicago, one of the most popular booths was the Galaxy’s Edge preview.

Kiosks were set up to start planning a trip to Galaxy’s Edge

I took the time on the first day of Star Wars Celebration to experience what this booth had to offer as a preview of this exciting new Star Wars themed park.

Photo ops of rides and settings

They had photo ops available where attendees could have their picture taken with a mock up of the ride attractions and Black Spire backdrops.

Galaxy’s Edge themed merchandise

The most interesting part of the booth to me was the examples of the merchandise that will be on sale when Galaxy’s Edge opens. All I could think of was…

I have to wait until the park opens to buy these! Why are they not for sale NOW!

The booth also hosted meet and greets with Imagineers who worked on creating the attractions for Galaxy’s Edge. Unfortunately, none of the Imagineers were available when I visited the booth. However, my friends Richard and Sarah from Skywalking Through Neverland were able to meet and interview Imagineers Scott Trowbridge and Chris Beatty and that interview is available to view above.

Overall, this Galaxy’s Edge preview gave me an general idea of what to see and experience when the park opens later this year.

Wondercon 2018 Highlights

Wondercon 2018 Highlights

Last weekend, photographer Brian Sims, attended Wondercon 2018 in Anaheim. Brian acted as my eyes and ears on the various happenings at this event and here is what he has to share with us!

Wonder Con was shockingly void of Star Wars content and news this year. Other than the Her Universe presentation and the panel with E.K. Johnston, nothing of note came out of it.

Despite the lack of Star Wars news, the con floor did have booths set up from R2 builders, 501st, Rebel Legion and the Mandelorian Mercs.

There was also a Star Wars cosplay group picture that was set up by Brandon Jackson and included representatives from each of these groups.

Thanks Brian for the report from Wondercon!

What did Ahsoka learn from Anakin?

In celebration of Ahsoka Tano Day, I am republishing one of my earlier articles I wrote for TheCantinaCast blog…

What did Ahsoka learn from Anakin?

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Poster

I thought now, would be good time to reflect on what Ahsoka learned from Anakin while she was his padawan during The Clone Wars. Perhaps, this can help us understand her character better, as we see her in Star Wars Rebels.

Strategy

Ahsoka giving the go-ahead to Rex to spring the trap on the Separatist fleet Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Ahsoka learned strategies from Anakin on how to outwit their Separatist adversaries.

Teaching Others


Ahsoka obtained the skillset to teach others how to pass-on the necessary skills in battle and on the frontlines from Anakin and Obi-Wan.

Leave No One Behind


Ahsoka learned from Anakin that every life is important, especially those that are in danger.

How To Survive Despite The Odds


When Ahsoka was kidnapped by the Trandojians for sport, Ahsoka relied on what Anakin taught her, to not only survive in that hostile environment, but to encourage those around her as well.

When It Is OK To Disobey Orders

Ahsoka learned from Anakin that it was alright to disobey an order from the Jedi Council when circumstances warrant it.

So what else do you believe Ahsoka learned from Anakin?

Almost There: Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Begins

Almost There: Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Begins

In less than 24 hours, the Star Wars Rebels fourth and final season will begin on Disney XD! This final season will start October 16 at 12:30AM EDT/PDT with the one-hour premiere, “Heroes of Mandalore: Parts One and Two“, on the Disney XD and the DisneyNow App! If you miss the first airing do not worry, there will be additional airings throughout the day (3:00am, 7:30am, 5:30pm and 9pm EDT/PDT)!

In this premiere episode, Sabine leads Ezra, Kanan and an army of her fellow Mandalorians back to her home world to rescue her father from the clutches of the Empire.  When she discovers the Empire has resurrected a devastating weapon, she must decide whether to destroy it or use it herself.

Not only will you see more of Sabine’s family and Fenn Rau in these episodes, but this also marks the Star Wars Rebels debut of Star Wars: The Clone Wars character, Bo-Katan!

I saw Part One at Star Wars Celebration Orlando back in April and I cannot wait to see the next part and of course discuss this with fellow Star Wars Rebels Fans, especially with Johnamarie and her Ma via RebelsChat!

Before season four begins, binge-watch seasons one through three of “Star Wars Rebels” available now on the DisneyNow App.

Blog Squadron – Mission #2: Blogging Ideas and Motivations

Blog Squadron – Mission #2: Blogging Ideas and Motivations

Hello and welcome to Blog Squadron Mission 2!

The goal of these missions is to share the experiences of bloggers who write about Star Wars and shed a little light on the writing processes, quirks and routines.

Meet the Blog Squadron!

A few weeks back a call was given by Matt Applebee,@mapplebee7567, via Twitter to gather a group of bloggers, who write about Star Wars, to share our wring processes, quirks and routines. This call was answered by the following Star Wars bloggers:

Matt Applebee: Far, Far Away Radio.com
Jessie Stardust: TatooineDreams.com (Personal Blog, mostly Star Wars flavored) and PassionatelyCasual.com (Star Wars:The Old Republic podcast site.)
Patty Hammond: I currently write for my own EverydayFangirl.com and also for The Future Of The Force, StarWars.com and TheBeardedTrio.com. I have previously wrote for The Cantina Cast and The Detroit News Geek Watch Blog.
Bryan: I’ve posted on a few blogs along the way, but I’m exclusively on hyperspacepodblast.com nowadays.
Sophie: My personal blog is outerrimreviews.wordpress.com, here I am chronicling my journey through the Star Wars Expanded Universe. I also write articles for farfarawayradio.com
Johnamarie Macias: TheWookieeGunner.com
Saf: I write sporadically for ToscheStation.net, MakingStarWars.net, and TheWookieeGunner.com. I also write about Star Wars on my own site, NotSafForWork.com.

Together we formed the Blog Squadron with the mission to help those in the Star Wars fan community get to know us better, understand our blogging process and to give advice to anyone who wishes to join us!

In today’s mission, the Blog Squadron sheds a little light on how we come up with ideas to write about, what motivates us to write and how often!

How do you come up with ideas to blog about?

Matt: Besides the times when a new movie comes out, I’m given complete autonomy in terms of what I write about. I usually come up with ideas while my daughter is in her gymnastics class. As she’s trying to have fun, and I’m trying to ignore the hyper intense parents, I write down all kinds of ideas in a little journal. As far as the topics, I just try to write about either random thoughts I’ve had about Star Wars while driving, conversations/debates my wife and I have had, or fan debates on social media. Those are generally my favorites because I like to see if I can present both sides and try to broker some kind of peace.

Stardust: Coming up with ideas is the easy part! My difficulty is finding the discipline to work with those ideas to make a blog entry. Many of my articles spring forth from what I am seeing in Star Wars news, SWTOR updates, and social media. I read a fair amount of Star Wars books and each one of them opens up so many questions and reasons to talk about my favorite galaxy.

Patty: Some ideas just come to me, others ideas come in the course of watching the films or TV shows, reading the novels or comics, remembering something that happened in the past or by interacting with other fans through social media.

Bryan: Oh this would be a long list, but most of them come from thinking about Star Wars while: running, in the shower, commuting, or discussing Star Wars via Twitter or in person with other fans. To be honest, most of what I blog about now is actually more of a play-by-play of the comics, but I still use the same process to come up with podcast ideas…which are kind of stream of consciousness audio blogs…or something…

Sophie: I have a combination of muses. Sometimes I just get a flash of inspiration and think ‘I must write this down now!’ regardless of where I am or what I am doing! Other times, I’ll find I’m spending several days obsessing about certain themes and characters which I start to jot down notes on and slowly an article is born.

Johnamarie: When it comes to my site, I focus mostly on the animation side of Star Wars, so I think about things that I personally would like to read. That’s how I came up with a Star Wars Rebels roundup because so much news was being distributed, but there wasn’t a system in place to catch it all. I also read other blogs to get my creative juices flowing. Sifting through Twitter and Star Wars themed forums also have a way of giving me ideas. For example, my article about mother-daughter relationships in Star Wars was inspired by a Twitter conversation. I took that and made it into an opinion piece, while also finding a few sources here and there to support my concerns. Inspiration is all around you. You just have to keep your eyes open and ask yourself, “Could I write about that?”

Saf: This is actually something I get asked about a lot, and it’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time. I generally block out a day or two at the start of the month and spend the entirety of those days brainstorming for creative projects. I write down a list of any little thing I might have some interest in writing about, then extrapolate on those things until I have a page filled with different ideas that might be fun to cover. I’ll also often make polls on Twitter or Patreon to see what people are most keen to read from that point. I find that if I don’t make time to plan these things out, I hit a wall when I go, “What should I write about this month?”

How often do you blog about Star Wars? What factors/motivations help you decide when to write (deadlines, personal or otherwise, being “first” with a scoop, reviews, etc.)?

Matt: I generally blog about every other week mostly because that’s what I told the fine folks at Far, Far Away that I’d do. If I’ve particularly inspired, sometimes I’ll even get two out in a week, and other times I’ll get less. I’m really blessed with the amount of trust and freedom that the whole gang at Far, Far Away affords me.

Stardust: If inconsistency were a virtue, I’d be a saint. I tend to post in fits and starts; long periods of nothing followed by three pieces in ten days. When my blog had its second anniversary last month, that helped renew a spirit within me to write more consistently. Fear of commitment keeps me from quantifying that but I have been thinking about blogging a lot, which surely has to be the first step, right? Unless it is SWTOR-game related, I will never try to scoop on Star Wars stuff, there are a lot of people who have the connections and experience to do that, and I will leave that fun to them. (I am positioned to occasionally scoop on SWTOR due to my participation in an Influencer program with BioWare.)

Patty: I do not have a set schedule. Sometimes I can write everyday, other times it is once or twice a week, other times an opportunity may come up and I write something out of the blue. It really depends on what is going on and how much real life distracts me.

Bryan: I started out as mostly sporadic, then changed to a weekly format, and now I’m back to being extremely sporadic with “regular” blog posts while quite regular with my aforementioned comic posts. I liked having a weekly “deadline,” so to speak, when I was writing for another blog – it forced me to write rather than allow myself to be lazy about it (which I sort of do now, though I tell myself it’s because of the podcast…which it sort of is). If I were starting a new blog today, I think I’d go with a bi-weekly deadline for myself to ensure that I didn’t get too lax in posting, but also didn’t burn myself out too soon.

Sophie: I aim to upload a post to Outer Rim Reviews every other week (I need to have the time to actually read the books I am going to write about!) and usually aim to be about four books ahead of the posts. Far Far Away Radio is generally also every other week so I spend alternate weeks on each blog. Having this structure helps a lot to keep me motivated and because, for me, it is a realistic target I don’t crumble under the pressure of getting posts written. It’s definitely important to set yourself achievable goals because, at the end of the day, if it’s not your full time job then blogging should be something you do for fun – it certainly shouldn’t create stress!

Johnamarie: On a good week, I update the site a few times. On a not-so-good week, I update it only once. To be honest, though, it comes down to “I update when I get the chance.” TWG is my hobby, so even though I would like to keep it updated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I have a daytime job to focus on and other responsibilities outside of that. As for what motivates me, I’ve never been the “first” kind of person. For example, if news breaks, I don’t rush to the computer to post about it on my site. I take my time. Sometimes, I write about it a few days after the fact. Part of it is because I’m busy doing other things or I’m too tired when I get home, and the other part is that I like to think about what I’m writing. I like to provide a thoughtful and unique perspective and not just regurgitate what I see.

Saf: I definitely write about Star Wars a lot less than I used to—though not because I don’t want to! It’s just hard to find the time to write about things for fun when my fulltime job is also writing. These days I most often write reviews for new books, and sometimes opinion pieces on storytelling or diversity. I try to aim for at least once a month, but I’m failing a little at that right now because of life. Deadlines are my biggest motivators though, so I much prefer it when one of my siterunners tells me “I need this by this time” instead of being more lax with me. I’m definitely not a scoops kinda person though. I prefer in-depth discussions or features when I can, which is why I post about Star Wars way less frequently than others might.

As mentioned before, the goal of these missions is to share our experiences and shed a little light on our writing processes, quirks, and routines. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to visit the other #BlogSquadron Mission posts, continuing with Sophie’s post at Far, Far Away Radio.com on 09/29. We also want you to let us know what you think by commenting here or by interacting with us via Twitter using the hashtag #BlogSquadron!

Star Wars Rebels Season Four Poster

I love this official Star Wars Rebels Season Four Poster. There are a lot of details including a Lothwolf in the center between Thrawn and Pryce with the crew of The Ghost in the center foreground. Thanks so much Lucasfilm for sharing this with me!

From the press release…
All the paths are coming together as Star Wars Rebels returns for its fourth and final season beginning Monday, October 16th on Disney XD.
Before its highly anticipated finale, many new Rebels episodes will be broadcast back-to-back, giving fans a full hour of the Ghost crew’s thrilling adventures each week though November 13th :
Monday, 10/16 – “Heroes of Mandalore”  Parts 1 & 2
Monday, 10/23 – “In the Name of the Rebellion” Parts 1 & 2
Monday, 10/30 – “The Occupation” and “Flight of the Defender”
Monday, 11/6 – “Kindred” and “Crawler Commandeers”
Monday, 11/13 – “Rebel Assault”

After the holiday break, Star Wars Rebels will return in early 2018 with its final episodes leading up to its epic finale — a story so secret that only a few people on the production team know how it will end! Look for new episodes every Monday with five airings throughout the day at 12:30 a.m., 3:00 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 5:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on Disney XD (also on the Disney XD App and VOD), and don’t forget to catch StarWars.com’s “Rebels Recon” show, which will be posted after the 9 p.m. broadcast.

So who has made this their screensaver?

Are you just as excited for this final season of Star Wars Rebels as I am?

Let me know in the comments or via Twitter @PattyBones2

Adventures During Force Friday II 

Today is Force Friday II and I spent most of my day looking and buying some of the new Star Wars merchandise.

A Quick Morning Stop!

A few of the new Star Wars Figures available at my local Meijer

A few of the new Star Wars Figures available at my local Meijer

Since I had to work today I was not able to go to any of the Force Friday II midnight opening events. However, I was able to stop by my local Meijer on the way to the office. This store was in the process of setting things up for Force Friday II. Fortunately, they did put out a few of the action figures so I was able to score a Black Series Thrawn, Jedi Traninee Rey and Hera Syndulla!

Morning spoils!

Morning spoils!


Afternoon Adventures: At The Mall

Fortunately, the office closed early for the holiday and I was able to do some looking and shopping at a mall near my office. My first stop was a quick stop at The Disney Store since this was the closest to my office. This had the appropriate atmosphere for buying Star Wars merchandise including a video screen playing Star Wars scenes and clips, tracks from the Star Wars soundtracks and demonstrations by the staff showing the new mechandise to younglings! It is here that I bought my first Porg, a very soft PLUSHIE, a Die Cast Rey figure and the Die Cast droid gift pack on clearance! I also received a bonus, a set of the new The Last Jedi posters!

Afternoon Spoils at The Disney Store!

Afternoon Spoils at The Disney Store!

Next I decided to make a quick stop by there was The Lego Store, since this was only a couple of doors down from The Disney Store. I personally did not see much in the way of new merchandise that I wanted to buy. However, I saw a few displays that interested me including a display of The Phantom II from Star Wars Rebels, The Arrowhead from The Freemaker Adventures and a huge Millennium Falcoln!

Some of the displays in The Lego Store

Some of the displays in The Lego Store


The last stop at the mall was at The Apple Store.  Here I saw the new app enabled droids including BB-9E and R2-D2.  There was also a STEM learning opportunity where they presented a class for kids on how to program these droids using coding techniques! 

Droids and Demos at The Apple Store

Droids and Demos at The Apple Store

Evening Stops

After dinner with my family, I made two additional stops to check out what other new Star Wars merchandise is available!  I first made my way to Target where I found lots of new merchandise available! There was so much I could not decide what to buy with my limited budget. I bought the new Forces of Destiny Sabine figure, a Rose figure and a few Star Wars items to give my hubby for his upcoming Birthday.  

So much Star Wars goodness can be found at Target

So much Star Wars goodness can be found at Target

My final stop of the day was at Walmart! Since I already spent my budget at the other stores, I did not buy anything here.  However, this did not prevent me from looking and adding new items to my list once I save a little. What I found while looking around was more new merchandise including some exclusives not found at other retailers.  

Lots of stuff available at Walmart

Lots of stuff available at Walmart

Well that was how I spent Force Friday II.  So how did you spend your Force Friday? Which retailers did you go to? What did you buy?

Guest Post: Why Representation, Diversity, and Inclusion Matter To Me

The Adventures of The Everyday Fangirl welcomes fellow Fangirl Connie Shih as a guest blogger to talk about why representation, diversity and inclusion matters!

Take it away Connie!

Patty, thank you so much for the opportunity to write a guest today!

Why Representation, Diversity, and Inclusion Matter To Me: Having a Seat at the Table an editorial by Connie Shih

Representation, diversity, and inclusion have come to the forefront in recent years as hot topics in pop culture, fandom and society at large. They are multi-faceted, complex topics influenced by a number of factors including background, race and ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Depending on one’s perspective, representation and diversity are either championed or derided as being too political.

In the pop culture realm, discussion and debate surrounding representation and diversity have intensified this summer with the record-breaking box office success of Wonder Woman, the announcement of Jodie Whittaker as the 13th (and first female) Doctor in Doctor Who, the diverse cast of Star Trek: Discovery, and the debut of the new Star Wars: Forces of Destiny animated shorts (with accompanying Hasbro adventure figure merchandise). Although welcomed and embraced by many, there has also been vocal and considerable pushback by some who believe that the spotlight on representation and diversity has detracted from the love of THEIR TV show or film franchise. These detractors perceive that inclusion is used to gate keep entry into fandom and franchise, and believe that representation and diversity do not matter.

In this guest editorial, I would like to provide a counterpoint to the belief that representation and diversity do not matter by sharing my story and perspective as a 42-year-old Asian-American woman with cerebral palsy who has loved the science-fiction / fantasy genre for 34 years. My intent is not to change minds, but rather invite readers to step out their own perspectives for a moment and consider things from a different point of view.

Having a Seat at the Table
Growing up in the 1980s, my two primary science-fiction / fantasy staples were Star Trek and Star Wars. I was first introduced to Star Wars as an 8-year-old with Return of the Jedi and to Star Trek as an 11-year-old with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Those two films were my entry points into both these long running franchises and in both cases I became an instant fan. The United Federation of Planets and A Galaxy Far, Far, Away captivated me and I wanted to absorb everything about them. My favorite characters from each of these franchises, at the time, were Nyota Uhura and Hikaru Sulu from Star Trek, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker from Star Wars. I was drawn to them all because I saw a bit of myself in all four characters: Uhura (female linguist and communications officer), Sulu (Asian helmsman), Princess Leia (empowering, take charge princess), and Luke (hero with unwavering belief in his father). In each of these characters, I saw a trait that I could relate to, or someone who I aspired to be.

As the Star Trek franchise continued with TV series The Next Generation, Voyager, and Deep Space Nine, my favorite characters were Dr. Beverly Crusher, Geordi La Forge, Keiko O’Brien, and Harry Kim. Once again, I saw a bit of myself represented in each of them, especially with Geordi. I think it was the first time I saw a character with a disability (blindness) in Star Trek. It was incredibly inspiring for me to watch his progress from helmsman to chief engineer of the Enterprise. All of these characters represented my seat the table.

Does that mean I didn’t like or identify with other characters within these franchises? No, of course not. In the Star Trek franchise, I liked many different characters based on their traits and story. For example, I liked Dr. McCoy for his southern gentility, wit, and sarcasm just as much as I liked Guinan for her wisdom. Seeing representation on screen added additional layers of relatability and personal investment to the story and franchise. When I do not see myself represented, I feel like an outsider looking in to a certain extent. Recently, I was struck by a quote from Dr. Mae Jemison (lifelong Star Trek fan and NASA astronaut) to Nichelle Nichols at the recent Star Trek convention in Las Vegas. Jemison thanked Nichols for being an inspiration and went on to say “You gave me and others permission to be in the room.” Think about that for a moment. Seeing Uhura on TV gave Jemison permission to be in the room. I was incredibly moved by her comment because I felt the same seeing my aforementioned favorite characters on TV and on the big screen.

Dr. Mae Jemison and Nichelle Nichols Credit: Star Trek.com

Dr. Mae Jemison and Nichelle Nichols Credit: Star Trek.com

Bullied for Being a Fan
As much I loved Star Wars and Star Trek growing up, I mostly kept my love for Star Wars hidden from others until my mid-teens and early twenties. Why? Because I was bullied as a child (both verbally and physically) on more than one than occasion when attempting to share my love of this franchise with other kids. “You like Star Wars? You cripple. Don’t you know that Star Wars is for boys?” “Oh, you like Star Wars? Prove it. *proceeds with a litany of questions*” “Star Wars is for boys, not girls. You’re Chinese! Star Wars isn’t for you anyways. Go away!”

As a young girl, these questions stung like being swarmed by wasps. I cried myself to sleep several times. I just wanted to connect with other kids and didn’t understand why they were being so mean. My parents, bless them, tried to soothe me the best they could. They told me that I still had my imagination and the ability write and draw, so I should keep Star Wars to myself and have fun. I didn’t have Star Wars toys at the time, so I acted out scenes from Return the Jedi with my Barbie and Ken dolls, pretending they were Leia and Luke, respectively.

I also hid my love for Star Trek because there weren’t kids my age who liked it and I was already bullied for Star Wars, so why even ask? It was pointless and I did not want to be subjected to another round of heartbreak. It was not until several years later that I came out of hiding with Star Trek and Star Wars. One of my father’s work colleagues had a daughter ten years older than I. Despite our age difference, we had so many life circumstances in common including a love of Star Wars and Star Trek. I can’t tell you how genuinely happy I was to discover another girl who loved both of these franchises much as I did. The floodgates opened and we chatted for hours, talking nonstop about Luke, Leia, and Han and Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov. That was 30 years ago. We remain close friends to this day and still go to see Star Wars and Star Trek movies together. I consider her a science fiction / fantasy kindred spirit and I have her to thank for introducing me to other awesome franchises, such as Doctor Who, Babylon 5, and Stargate SG-1.

Being a Fan in the Present Day
Much has changed for the better over the past 30 years, especially for the Star Wars franchise. There are now also so many more entry points for fans of all ages to experience Star Wars across multiple mediums (film, animated series, books, comics, video games, virtual reality, and theme parks). Along those lines, I have to say it has been fantastic to witness the number of diverse characters grow exponentially, particularly with female characters. Star Wars now includes Padmé Amidala, Shmi Skywalker Lars, Rey, Ahsoka Tano, Maz Kanata, Satine Kryze, Bo Katan, Steela Gerrera, Korr Sella, Greer Sonnel, Hera Syndulla, Asajj Ventress, Sabine Wren, Ursa Wren, Norra Wexley, Shara Bey, Jyn Erso, Lyra Erso, the Nightsisters, Captain Phasma, Mother Talzin, Dr. Aphra, Ciena Ree, Rae Slone, Arihnda Pryce, Iden Versio, Rose Tico, Amilyn Holdo, and Kordi Freemaker. While their stories have been told (or will be told) in varying degrees, each of these female characters have been introduced in a medium. To say that I am thrilled is an understatement. In addition to female characters, there have been recent attempts to ethnically diversify with Finn, Poe Dameron, Saw Gerrera, Bodhi Rook, Cassian Andor, Baze Malbus, and Chirrut Îmwe. Of these characters, as a disabled Asian American, I connected to Chirrut Îmwe the most because it was refreshing to see an Asian character who wasn’t stereotypically portrayed as a villain and also overcame his blindness. There are now so many more seats at the table and I hope the trend continues because the galaxy is vast with infinite possibilities to tell stories from different perspectives.

As geekdom has become mainstream, it is easier for female fans to openly embrace their love of the science fiction / fantasy genre. While bullying and discrimination still exist, we no longer have to hide in shadows. I’m delighted there are companies and online communities such as Ashley Eckstein’s Her Universe (geek fashion) and Jamie Broadnax’s Black Girls Nerds that are thriving because they create spaces where all female fans can connect, step into the spotlight and be proud of their inner geek / nerd. There is also much more merchandise available for fans of all ages to purchase and enjoy. Collectibles, toys and games, action and adventure figures, kitchenware, bedding – all come branded with one’s favorite franchise. While the merchandise was prevalent when I was a kid, it is everywhere now. It’s a wonderful time to be a fan!

Into the Future
The futures of both Star Trek and Star Wars are bright with exciting, each with new projects on the horizon. In addition, both recently celebrated milestone anniversaries with Star Trek turning 50 last year, and Star Wars turning 40 this year. I consider both to be legacy franchises as the love for them has been generational. At the same time, we have started to see both (particularly Star Wars) evolve to reflect the society and times they reside in. As author John Knowles said, “Everything has to evolve or else it perishes.” I view representation, diversity, and inclusion (both on screen and off screen) as integral to this evolution, and believe that these three will help both Star Trek and Star Wars continue to stand the test of time. They have the potential to the present new stories to keep things fresh while still retaining the core characteristics of what makes the respective franchises appealing. Potential is the keyword because I acknowledge that representation, diversity, and inclusion alone cannot exist in a vacuum. Ideally, they should be coupled with quality storytelling that resonate with the audience and fans. This is something that the entertainment industry as a whole is currently struggling with, and is subject that is worth exploring in a separate article. Overall, representation, diversity, and inclusion DO matter to me because I believe that everyone has a voice, has the right to be in the room, and has a seat at the table.

If you have read this far, I want thank EACH of you for allowing me to share my personal perspective of why representation, diversity, and inclusion matter. I welcome all perspectives and the chance to dialogue with fellow fans. If you would like to reach out, please feel free to reach me at my twitter handle @connieshih. Live Long and Prosper and May the Force Be With You!

Some items of interest for further reading, listening, and viewing:
• Listen: Beltway Banthas podcast: Episode #36: Race, Representation, and Reconciliation
• Watch: Dave Filoni Speaks at the National Center for Women & Information Technology
• Read: Netflix Talks Diversity and Representation With #FirstTimeISawMe
• Read: Are We as Inclusive As We Believe We Are in Fan Culture?
• Read: Dear Hollywood: Five lessons we hope you learned from the success of ‘Wonder Woman’
• Read: Diversity in Movies Largely Unchanged Despite Increased Awareness, Study Finds

Connie Shih is a graduate student and teacher who loves astronomy and music, is an avid reader, and is a science fiction / fantasy nerd who loves Star Wars and Star Trek. She can be reached at her twitter handle @connieshih.

The Freemaker Adventures Continues Today

The Freemaker Adventures Continues Today!

The Freemaker Family: Zander, Rowan and Kordi

The Freemaker Family: Zander, Rowan and Kordi

I am a big fan of the LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures and I am really excited that the first episodes of season two, “A New Home” and “Trouble on Tibalt” air today starting at 10:30AM EST on DisneyXD!  I cannot wait to see what new adventures the Freemaker Family gets into next! 

As you can see, I have already set my DVR thanks to the Xfinity App!

As you can see, I have already set my DVR thanks to the Xfinity App!

Are you a fan of The Freemaker Adventures

Are you looking forward to Season 2 as much as I am?

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