Friday, August 13, 2010

You're a fan girl, right?

"You're a fan girl, right?" Doan asked me at the beginning of our Comic-Con swag photo shoot. "Yeah..." I answered cautiously. After giving it a moment's thought, the irony hit me. Here I was, surrounded by superhero movie T-shirts, comic book tote bags, convention badges, and heap loads of random geeky paraphernalia -- all of which I would model and showcase before the day was through. I'll be jiggered if the situation didn't scream fan girl. So why the stammer?

I was only recently acquainted with the term "fan girl", and have had mixed feelings about how it relates to me. I remember very vividly the first time anyone ever called me one. I was standing in line with my friend Robert LeMoyne, trying to get tickets to the sold-out Thrilling Adventure Hour, which happened to be guest-starring Nathan Fillion. So there we were, waiting, when out of the corner of my eye I spotted Juliet Landau, who happens to be hands down my favorite actress on Buffy. I did my best to keep my composure while introducing myself to her, shaking her hand, and snapping a quick photo. But once I returned to my spot in line, I could barely contain myself. By the time my friend Jonathan Reilly, who was photographing the event, came around to say hello, it was all I could do not to hyperventilate- swoon-squeal as I showed him the picture of me and Juliet on my point-and-shoot digital camera. "Aaaww, you're a fan girl!" he said. My first thought was, "Am I really?" (Looking back, I feel like one of those people who decorated her room with rainbows, listened incessantly to the Indigo Girls and Ani Difranco, had no interest in dating guys, and finally one day realized "Holy crap -- I'm gay!" And all of her friends were like "Well duuuuhhh!!! But I diverge.)

So I'm a fan girl. I admit it. What's the big ish? I initially shied away from the fan girl label because to me, it meant being identified solely on the basis of how you related to other people and other people's work. As an actress, filmmaker, writer, and creator, I had always made a point of defining my identity based on my own art. If I approached the people I admired as a fan girl, would they then neglect to see me as an artist in and of my own? And more importantly, would I lose my self-identity as such?

This is a question that extends beyond the world of Joss Whedon geekdom. Living in Los Angeles for a year now, I have had the opportunity to meet and work with people in the entertainment industry whose work I have lovingly followed for years. Maybe it's the newness of the town or maybe it's just my nature, but when I meet somebody who amazes me I get starstruck. Giddy. Weak in the knees. If I'm lucky, something witty, articulate, and poignantly apropos might float from my lips. But then again, I might just stand there stumbling and stuttering like a big buffoon. As a result, my immediate instinct is to repress all of that. Don't tell them how you feel. Don't let them know how much they mean to you. Don't even let on that you know who they are.

I brought up the issue one day in a life-coaching workshop with the incredible Barbara Deutsch. Her advice was simple: "TELL THE TRUTH!" And she was right. I can be a fan AND an artist. I can even be a fan and an equal. And if someone has inspired me; influenced the art I create and the decisions I make; if I truly, deeply appreciate them from the bottom of my heart, why not say so?

I love you to pieces. I have been watching your work since the birth of the time-space continuum. I am totally in awe of what you do. I want to be just like you when I grow up. I AM YOUR BIGGEST F*#@ING FAN!!!

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