December 17, 2014 § 1 Comment
Fandom can sometimes seem like an island of misfit toys or a circus of personalities, but occasionally you stumble across people who are really something special. If you’re in the American Horror Story fandom, or are a Glee vet like myself, then you probably know the two young women I interviewed for our first Fangirl Spotlight.
Deborah and Jessica are two friends who’ve got both the pluck and the talent to go far. Even actress Sarah Paulson couldn’t help but notice their hilarious AHS-viewing videos, and in a moment that usually only happens in fangirl dreams, she befriended her two fans. I was eager to talk to them about their experiences and what motivates them.
Kathleen: How did you first become a fangirl?
Jess: I’ve been a fangirl since I came out of the womb. My parents would sit me in front of the TV and I’d willingly watch the same episode of Barney over and over and over again. From Sailor Moon to Full House to Lizzie McGuire, there’s never been a time when I wasn’t completely obsessed with TV. I will say, though, that I don’t think I was ever truly part of a fandom until I joined Tumblr, which was only about 4 years ago. My main fandom then was Glee; now it’s American Horror Story. I’m a glutton for punishment, obviously (re: Ryan Murphy).
Deb: My earliest memory of fangirling and fandom experience was Glee. Yes, I was a Gleek. When I first started watching I slowly became interested in searching about the show on the internet, which is how I discovered Tumblr, the Motherland of Fandoms. I realized I wasn’t the only one having these newly discovered “feels” over fictional characters and began interacting with people. I made lifelong friends and had not so horrible teen years. I still love Glee. It changed my life. You never forget your first.
J & D: Christian Mingle.
K: What are some of the factors that determine the women in real life and fiction you admire?
D: I love women who have been through hell and back and sort of say, “screw you” to their situation and rise above it. Women who are flawed and learn to embrace their flaws and use them to their advantage. Women who don’t need men to survive. Women who don’t need to put down other women to survive. Basically, all the characteristics of Lana Winters from American Horror Story: Asylum. Lana Winters was such a breath of fresh air from the usual stereotypical female characters that are on television.
J: I’d say it starts in fiction first. For me, the character always comes before the lady love. I like my female characters strong, smart, quick-witted, funny when the situation calls for it, and not afraid to put anyone in their place. See: Lana Winters, Juliet Burke, Addison Montgomery, Olivia Pope, Robin Scherbatsky, Annie Edison. Now, when I love, I love hard. I can admit to this. But for me to really admire the actress behind the character, I generally hold them to the same standards as their fictional counterparts. The biggest thing for me, though, is their humour. They’ve gotta be really effing funny.
K: I’m a huge fan of your antics. Where do you think all that creative energy comes from?
D: I don’t know about Jessica, but I definitely feed off of her energy. When she gets excited about something she tells me immediately IN ALL CAPS and then I start typing in all caps and then we’re basically screaming and then next thing we know we’re screaming in front of cameras and that’s how “the magic” happens. We just get this crazy energy and we constantly are bouncing ideas back and forth like a ball and it gets bigger and bigger with each pass. I’m always happiest when creating with Jess. I couldn’t imagine doing any of what we do without her, because I just couldn’t. It wouldn’t work without her. It’s like a marriage of creativity. She’s my creative wife.
K: Describe a moment where you felt the biggest fangirl high ever.
J: I think the biggest fangirl high for me would be the first time we saw Sarah Paulson as Sally in Talley’s Folly. We were front row, seeing her acting magic performed in our faces. It’s so amazing to have that kind of experience translate from TV to a stage right in front of you, and not every actor can master both forms of performance, but that was when I fully understood how talented Sarah truly is. That was also the first night that we got to hang out with her, which was beyond anything Deborah and I could have hoped for.
K: You guys have gotten to meet quite a few celebrities. What’s the best advice one of them ever gave you?
D: Last year, I auditioned for a local theater company and it was my first real audition ever. I was so nervous and unsure about myself so I reached out to Sarah Paulson. She gave me advice on my monologue and technique and made me feel more confident in myself. I went into that audition replaying her advice in my head and kept looking around and thinking “If Emmy AND Golden Globe nominated Sarah Paulson thinks I can do this, then I can do it dammit!” It was the only thing keeping me from vomiting or fainting. I got callbacks for 5 different productions.
J: The best advice a celebrity has ever given us isn’t really advice so much as it is encouragement, I guess? A reporter was interviewing Sarah and mentioned her twitter fans, specifically the “two girls who made the funny reaction videos.” Though she didn’t know if it would make it into the article, she said that she just wanted us to know that people see our brilliance. That kind of affirmation from someone you look up to not only as an actor but as a person is such an incredible feeling. I really think it aimed our sights even higher.
K: What advice do you have for a teenager who’s just started crying about a fictional character?
D: I remember my mother saying constantly to me, “Deborah, it’s just a TV show.” when I would be wailing in the corner of the couch because my OTP made eye contact. I used to get so upset and felt like I the biggest weirdo because nobody else around me was doing that. Reach out to people, get creative, use that energy to create things, don’t hold back your fangirl feelings. Never plug up or be ashamed of your feels. You’re a rare magical species, like a unicorn. Everyone else is boring as hell.
J: Embrace it. Don’t ever let anyone belittle your feelings and don’t ever feel like you need to hide who you are. There are going to be so many people who don’t understand you but if you find the right crowd on social media, you’ll have a fantastic support system. Just have fun! And also don’t call the actress “mom” unless she’s explicitly given you permission to do so because it’s very uncomfortable for everyone.
K: What do you want to be doing ten years from now?
J: Ten years from now, I hope to be a well-established, successful actress and I would love to be starring in something alongside Deborah. Maybe a TV show? Or a movie? Or how about both? Does someone just want to cast us in their project right now and give me everything I want? A book deal while we’re at it? I just need my comedy wife with me every step of the way. Basically, ten years from now, I want Deborah and I to be the next Tina and Amy.
D: Anything that makes me happy, really. Whether that be making people laugh, singing, writing, or producing, I’m not 100% sure yet, but I do know that as long as I’m still fangirling and keeping a two year long record of talking to Jessica every single day for another ten years, I know I’ll be content.
Thanks guys! You’re an inspiration to us all. Keep being your unicorn selves and keep on BAMFing. You can follow Deborah and Jessica on twitter, or check out their YouTube channel. And if you have a fandom friend who’s doing amazing things that you’d like to nominate for the fangirl spotlight, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.