September Recap, Part 1: Volunteering at Fan Expo

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Fan Expo occurred over the Labour Day weekend, and for the third year in a row, I came back as a volunteer. Being how busy my weeks are, I once again could only commit to working Saturday/Sunday. As a volunteer, it’s mandatory that we do four shifts during the Con, so I ended up pulling double shifts for the weekend. For the past two years I got assigned to work Volunteer Registration, which in the end really meant that I was a Floater and worked wherever I was needed. I didn’t mind it, honestly, and I was fully expecting to be there again this year. But then assignments came and I found out I got moved to Autographs! I was f**king excited! I mean I knew I was gonna be dead tired by the end of it, but didn’t matter. Because despite having to work all weekend, I still got to see most of the celebrity guests, and got to work with some of them. Well, work with the celebs, really means working with the handlers/agents who work with them. But still, close proximity!

I got to work Gillian Anderson’s line on Saturday. When she left, I got to work Katie Cassidy’s line, which was in between Danielle Panabaker and John Barrowman, so I got to see all three of them. On Sunday, I worked the lines for Jewel Staite, who brought her husband and adorable baby boy as well. Getting to work Jewel’s line was pretty awesome, because her and her handler were just so great to work with. But also, on the one side of Jewel’s booth was Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, and Ben McKenzie; on the other side, Mark Hamill. Like I said, AWESOME.

Despite all the craziness and busyness of the weekend, volunteers were still allowed to enjoy their time. That meant if there was a photo-op or autograph we wanted to get, or even a panel we wanted to go to that fell during our shift, our Team Leaders/Coordinators were very accommodating. Working in Autographs, it was easy to get them, as long as we paid for them like everybody else. We were told not to straight up ask the celebs for a free autograph, ESPECIALLY while we’re on shift, because it makes the volunteers look bad and we’re all (including the celebs) there to work. And honestly, it’s understandable. So with that being said, even with double shifts, I managed to do a photo-op with Hayley Atwell, and got autographs from Ben McKenzie and Charlie Cox.

I had never done a photo-op at a Con before, but I’ve always known that it goes really quickly. So it barely even registered that I met Hayley. Walked into the photo-op area, quick “Hi!” to Hayley, took the picture, and out. It was barely 10 seconds. Enough time for a not great picture (there’s a reason I hadn’t done photo-ops, I just generally don’t like taking pictures), but not enough time for me to get awkward.

During a bit of a lull while on shift and kind of close to the end of the show, I went over to get Ben McKenzie’s autograph. And guys, I totally forgot how much of a crush I had on Ryan Atwood! I mean every time he walked over to his booth, I’d have a stupid smile on my face. Then when I actually went up to get his autograph, I couldn’t even get anything O.C.-related to come out of my mouth. It was the standard pleasantries: “Hi, how are you? Are you enjoying your time here in Toronto?” I was just total fangirling! Ben, for what’s it worth, was just so nice and thanked me as a volunteer for the hard work we put in over the weekend.

By 4:30 Sunday, the majority of the celebs were done and gone, and it was then just a matter of cleaning up the booths. So after cleaning up and such, I was pretty much done my shift before the Con was even over. I looked over and saw Charlie Cox was still signing autographs, and he stayed there until the very end. I was just hanging around at that point, and impulsively decided to get Charlie’s autograph. End of the day, not much of a line, whatever. Anyways, when I got up to meet Charlie, he read and mispronounced my name, which happens all the time, so I just waved it off and said “It’s T.” Charlie being adorable was like, “Oh, sorry! T? I love tea! I drink it all the time. Because you know, I’m English.” It was cute, especially with the accent; I fangirled, obviously. And then, even after he got through signing for everybody that was left, I don’t know for sure how it was instigated, but he was about to leave and then came back to take a group picture with a few fans (and us volunteers that were still hanging around lol). I am still looking for that picture.

It was such a busy weekend, but my third year volunteering turned out to be the best year so far. Working the autograph lines was such a fun experience, tiring as it was, though so completely worth it. My only hope is that I get to do it again next year!

5 Fandom Friday: 5 Times I Totally Fangirled

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I was actually already planning a post about celeb encounters when Megan (The Nerdy Girlie) and Kristin (Super Space Chick) released the Fandom 5 topics for this month. Perfect! Now, I’ve always prided myself in not COMPLETELY fangirling when I’ve met people whom I admire. Part of that has to do with the fact that I’m kinda sorta socially awkward, so I have trouble talking to my own friends sometimes, let alone celebs. Also, I try my best not to embarrass myself too much; it’s hard, but I try. Regardless of that, there have been multiple instances where that truly fangirl side of me comes out, meaning my awkwardness comes out and it gets hard for me to form proper sentences. My version of “totally fangirling” is getting so nervous I act like a total dork.

1.) SDCC 2013 – Final Nikita Panel

I’ve documented this in a previous post, but essentially I got up the nerve to go ask my favourite people in the world a question at their final panel. Just my luck, someone in front of me asked pretty much the question I was going to ask, and I had to think of another question on the spot. So much pressure! If you watch the video, you can probably hear exactly how nervous I was.

2.) SDCC 2014 – Meeting Shane West

Meeting Shane West after the Behind the Music panel?! AHHHH!!!! Comic-Con trip made!

Again, I already posted about this. To recap, I went to the panel Shane West was moderating and was determined to meet him afterwards. Tried my damned hardest to keep my fangirliness in check.

3.) SYTYCD Tours

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I love SYTYCD and for seasons 3-8, I actually went to the tour. For all the shows except one, I stayed after the show and waited to meet the dancers (because I found out early on that they did this, and I went with people who were willing to wait with me). Season 3 I met Lauren Gottlieb, was pretty calm. Season 4 I met Chelsie, Comfort, Courtney, Kherington, Joshua and Katee; it was when I met Katee that I nerded out a bit mentioning that I was a fan of hers from Paris By Night (and I think I embarrassed her a little bit by bringing it up). I skipped season 5 (it was too cold to wait). The season 6+7 tour I met Kathryn, Robert, Kent, Lauren, Ade, and Allison. Allison is one of my favourite dancers and I was so bummed that I missed the season 2 tour, so I was SO EXCITED to meet her. To be honest, I actually don’t remember much of the interaction because of how excited/nervous I was, except for asking her about tWitch (who was there at the show, but not performing), and then later on finding out that they had actually started dating (and now married)! Then the season 8 tour I met Marko, Melanie, Tadd, Caitlynn, and Nick. I definitely fangirled meeting Marko because he’s totally my dancer crush, and again I had to mention PBN, which I think caught him completely off-guard.

4.) FanExpo 2013

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I know I’m repeating myself again, but gosh, all these Cons are what dreams are made of. Saw Stephen Amell twice and acted like it was no big deal both times. 15 minutes after meeting Stephen (the first time), I met Gina Torres and could barely form a complete sentence. I met Piper Perabo and Peter Gallagher at the Covert Affairs signing. With Piper, I was my usual awkward self, not really sure what to say. With Peter, I managed to get in the fact that I loved Center Stage and The O.C., and have a proper interaction with him. It’s times like this that I don’t know how my brain processes being a fangirl.

5.) General Reaction to Awesome Events/News

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Sometimes, I’m at my most fangirliest when I hear good news. That means if my favourite TV shows get renewed, particularly if they’re on the bubble (which let’s be honest, applies to 75% of the shows I watch), I’m screaming and doing a happy dance. Favourite music artists going on tour and stopping into Toronto? Ditto. My favourite music artists teaming up to do a tour (like in 2013, when Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson toured together)? FUCK YES!

5 Fandom Friday: Conventions

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For this week’s Fandom Friday, we talk about cons! All in all, I’m actually pretty new to the Con scene but here are the conventions I’ve been to or want to go to.

San Diego Comic Con [Attended]: The big one. Back in 2012, I decided once and for all that I wanted to go to SDCC and just kinda put it out there that that’s what I was thinking about. Soon enough, my cousin agreed to go with me! We made the trip in 2013, quickly decided to go back in 2014, and we already have our badges for 2015!

Austin Television Festival [Wishlist]: It may be called a festival but ATX acts pretty darn close to a convention. It’s only been around for a few years but every year, it seems to just get better and better with its conversations/panels with actors, writers, etc. from shows past and present.

Toronto Comic Con [Attended]: 2014 was the first year I ever attended TCC. Surprisingly, the close proximity of it to where I live made me picky about whether or not I wanted to go. Plus, me being into the Hollywood/TV/movie side of things, I was only going to go if it was gonna be worth my time. And the only reason I went in 2014 (and for only one day)? Tatiana Maslany and Jordan Gavaris from Orphan Black were going to be there. That’s all I needed.

One Tree Hill Convention [Wishlist]: There is a convention dedicated to OTH AND its in Paris? Who wouldn’t want to go to that? Though I’d settle for just going to the OTH convention that will be happening in Wilmington, NC this year. In relation to all this, how was there a convention in Europe for OTH before the U.S., or in Wilmington until now?

Fan Expo Canada [Attended]: Like TCC, I have been very choosey about going to Fan Expo, all based on which celebs were going to be there and on what days. I first went in 2012 to test the Con waters, and to make sure going to SDCC was something I really wanted to do. So in 2012, I went to see Nelsan Ellis from True Blood and Julie Benz from Dexter (this was before both shows went off the air and I was still a fan). In 2013, after conquering SDCC, I made a solid plan to see/meet Stephen Amell, Gina Torres, and the Covert Affairs cast. In 2014? I volunteered! Worked all weekend so I didn’t actually get to enjoy the show, but still managed some celeb spotting.

Fan Expo 2013 – The Time I Met Oliver Queen, Anna Espinosa, Annie Walker + Sandy Cohen!

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So these happened at Fan Expo…

Last month, I fulfilled my dream of going to San Diego Comic Con for the first time ever. I know the true comic book fans are upset at the Hollywood-ization of SDCC, but it’s kinda one of the big reasons why I wanted to go. In comparison, Toronto’s Fan Expo, the third largest Con in North America, is much more comic-oriented but still has lots of room for the TV shows and celebrities.

I actually went to Fan Expo last year, not really knowing what to expect. This year, having survived the crazy awesomeness of SDCC, I decided that I would once again go to Fan Expo, though just for one day. I picked Sunday as my day to attend. Now, one of the biggest changes for Fan Expo this year was the inclusion of a Sports Fan Expo, which meant that the entire Metro Toronto Convention Centre was being used, not just the South building. I can’t tell you how great a decision that was. It might have been that I went on Sunday, so maybe it was less crowded than Saturday, but there was actually room to walk around the exhibit hall. There was no feeling like people were invading your personal space like at SDCC! Plus, the lines aren’t nearly as crazy as SDCC. I heard some people complaining about how long some of the lines were, and I thought to myself “This is nothing compared to Hall H & Ballroom 20!”

I’m not sure if this happens at other Cons that aren’t SDCC, but one of the cool things about Fan Expo is that because they have a limited number (but still a fair amount) of celebrities attending, the celebs have an area where they sign autographs while they are at the Expo. Between these autographs and photo-ops, it gives the fans a good opportunity to meet the stars they want to see. The downside to this is that, whereas at SDCC the stars are sponsored/brought in by the studios and networks, at Fan Expo the stars are essentially paid to take time out of their schedules and show up, so you have to pay for the autographs and photo-ops (which are taken by professionals).

Now I got to the Convention Centre pretty much as they opened, so after getting my wristband and heading in, I figured I’d check out the autograph area to see what times certain celebs were gonna be there signing. When I got there, Stephen Amell was already at his table! Awesome! I’m terrible at small talk, being the awkward introvert that I am, so I said a few quick words when it was my turn to see Stephen, got my autograph and was on my way. Of note, I paid $40 for his autograph, and for an extra $20 I could’ve gotten my picture taken with him, but I didn’t, and I kind of regretted it later (See, sometimes, the real Asian in me can cause me to be really cheap and not spend money. Idiot.) I figured since I’m there, let’s get in line to see Gina Torres! Gina does not usually do Cons so I HAD to make sure I went to see her. And sure, Gina is in town because Suits films in Toronto, but between me not actually living in Toronto, the bad luck I have at meeting celebs on set, and my general awkwardness, this was my only chance. What’s funny is that meeting Stephen, I was my usual awkward self, though he was really nice. With Gina, I was actually shaking a little bit, on top of being my awkward self. I might not have seen Firefly (a little blasphemous, I know) but I’ve admired this woman from her days on Alias (I will always remember her as Anna Espinosa), and of course now Suits. With getting these autographs, we can get the celebs to personalize them, and I’m already paying for it so why not? My name may be short but since kindergarten, everybody has had a hard time guessing how to pronounce my name until I tell them (it’s pronounced like the letter T). So I get very impressed by anyone who does it on the first try, which is what Gina Torres did. And man, did it feel nice to just get her acknowledgment like that. Yup, it’s the little things that can turn me into a dork.

Stephen Amell signing autographs

Stephen Amell signing autographs

We technically weren't supposed to take picture of Gina or Nathan Fillion (who was signing autographs beside her), but I sneaked one in

We technically weren’t supposed to take picture of Gina Torres or Nathan Fillion (who was signing autographs beside her), but I managed to sneak one in

I had intended on going to see Shawn and Aaron Ashmore’s panel, after getting my autographs, but in a case of not thinking straight, I had made my way to the South Building, instead of staying on the North side where the panel was. Needless to say, I missed it so I went roaming around the exhibit hall instead. I’m not one to buy a lot of things at Cons, unless something catches my eye, and honestly, I’m really all about the free swag. There actually wasn’t that much in swag but I ended up picking a couple posters from E1 and some Orphan Black (my newest obsession) buttons from the Space booth. Again, I know it’s terrible to go to these Cons and say I’m not really into comics, but I’m not. I made an exception though, picking up the early Fringe comic/graphic novel and one issue of Beyond the Fringe, the one that Joshua Jackson co-wrote.

Stephen Amell's panel

Stephen Amell’s panel

The first of two panels I ended up seeing was Stephen Amell’s panel. I know I saw him as part of the Arrow panel at SDCC and that I got to meet him earlier that day, but I couldn’t miss the chance to see him again and just hear him talk about stuff. Besides being ridiculously handsome, if you’ve seen him do interviews, he comes off as a genuinely nice and cool guy, and it’s probably partially due to the fact that he’s Canadian. During his panel, there was obviously talk about season 2 of Arrow, which for the most part I had heard already at SDCC, but he added in some on-set/off-screen stories, which I as a TV fan always appreciate, as well as personal anecdotes. One of the highlights of the panel was when Stephen was asked about Ben Affleck’s casting as Batman, the possibility of a Justice League movie, and if the TV and film worlds of the DC universe would intertwine like how Marvel now has S.H.I.E.L.D on TV. I’ll tell you this, I was a little taken aback by how honest and candid he was with his answers. With regards to Affleck as Batman, he just stated that DC (or even Marvel for that matter) and producers don’t just hand out iconic roles like that, so we simply just have to have faith in Affleck’s portrayal of the caped crusader. With regards to possibly taking his Green Arrow/Oliver Queen to the big screen if a JLA movie does happen, he says he wants to just take things as they come but revealed that casting decisions (once again) don’t just get handed out and have to go through many levels of approval by DC and goes up so far as Christopher Nolan. It was that tidbit of information that surprised me. I knew Nolan was one of the producers of the latest Superman film, Man of Steel, but I didn’t realize the clout that Nolan has on the DC/Warner Brothers superhero universe, in essence making him the equivalent to Joss Whedon’s role in the Marvel film universe.  The hour panel with Stephen went by quickly, and before we knew it, the moderators were saying that we needed to wrap it up and let Stephen go back to signing autographs. For proof of just how great a guy Stephen is, when asked if there was any final words he wanted to say to us fans, he said he wanted to answer 3 more questions and then he ended up answering 4. Like I said, cool guy.

Unlike at SDCC where you can camp out in a room all day, at Fan Expo they clear out after each panel. They also leave some time between panels so that if you happen to want to check out back-to-back panels in the same room, you can still get yourself in line for the next one. That’s exactly what ended up happening for me because after Stephen Amell was the Covert Affairs panel. Now funny story while I was waiting in line for Covert Affairs – Stephen Amell walked passed all of us in line. The girls in front of me who were talking and gushing about him, barely even noticed that he was walking past, and then there’s me who saw him and said “Hi” to him like it was no big deal. (I tell you, my awkwardness can act in a very weird ways.) Another thing that’s cool about Fan Expo is that for the shows that do get brought in from the networks (like Covert Affairs, in this case, being brought in by Showcase), there’s a lottery/raffle to get into the line for the free autograph session as you head into the panel. They put 2 different coloured raffle tickets into a bag, you pick one as you go inside, before the panel starts they tell you which colour gets the autograph. Simple, and no need to wait in an extra line.

Covert Affairs panel with Piper Perabo, Kari Matchett, and Peter Gallagher. Christopher Gorham & Hill Harper were unable to make it due to filming.

Covert Affairs panel with Piper Perabo, Kari Matchett, and Peter Gallagher. Christopher Gorham & Hill Harper were unable to make it due to filming.

I have to admit it was a little weird sitting in the panel hearing Piper Perabo, Kari Matchett, and Peter Gallagher talk about season 4 in a non-spoilery way because the new season hadn’t premiered in Canada yet, but I’ve been watching online so I know what’s been going on unless it’s later on in the season. As always, the real gems of all these panels are the behind-the-scenes stories. Hints/spoilers on what’s coming up are cool, anecdotes and random tangents are cooler (and funnier). Take for instance Piper recounting the time they were in Venice and they’re filming a scene where she’s in a foot chase because some guy stole from her. Now when they film on the street in Toronto, the area gets blocked off with security stopping people from entering a scene. When they’re filming abroad though, that doesn’t happen, so it’s sort of a free-for-all. So Piper’s filming this scene and these local guys don’t know/realize that there’s filming going on, so they would go after Piper and try to help her catch this thief; the crew kept on having to stop filming to let these locals know that it’s all fake and go back to whatever they were doing. Another fun moment was getting Peter Gallagher to sing, which for the record, didn’t take much work to convince him.

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About that autograph lottery earlier, I was not one of the lucky people to get the “winning” raffle ticket. I will tell you this though, sometimes (and by that I mean VERY RARELY) it pays to be a fan of a less popular show. Not enough people drew the winning colour so Showcase still had spots for the autograph signing. After the panel, I quickly made my way to the Showcase booth and tried to see if I could get one of those spots and all I had to do when I got there was answer the question they posted on Twitter. Needless to say, I got into the autograph signing! Surprisingly, when I came up to Peter, I managed to say that I was a big fan of Center Stage and The O.C., which is infinitely more than I was able to say to either Stephen or Gina earlier, and he mentioned how he just had dinner a couple weeks ago with Melinda Clarke (who’s obviously been in town filming Nikita). My day was made.

Covert Affairs autograph signing

Covert Affairs autograph signing

After the autograph signing, I made another run through of the exhibit hall and then called it a day. I had a lot more fun at Fan Expo this year than last, that’s for sure. I know I keep comparing FE & SDCC, but they are two different beasts. The general feeling at both events are similar but very different at the same time. Obviously in terms of meeting celebs, I was way more successful in my one day at FE than I was the entire 4 days at SDCC, but I was afforded a lot more opportunity to make those meets happen. Will I be back to FE next year? As long as they continue to bring celebs/shows that I’m a fan of, most definitely.