One of the goals of Her Universe’s Year of the Fangirl was to celebrate our community. Megan Crouse was writing The Clone Wars reviews for FANgirl when the nominations first opened. Back then, she knew she wanted to be a geek journalist, so B.J. and I poked and prodded her posts. One of the blog’s missions from the start was to give young women experience so they could move onward and upward. Nominating Megan for Fangirl of the Day was a no-brainer; she is a rising star. Last week, Megan interviewed Star Wars Rebels voice actress Vanessa Marshall for Den of Geek.
Do you have some favorite fandom moments from before you were signed on to Rebels?
As I said, my fandom was more of a private, sacred thing in the past. I adore all of the story arcs in both the prequels and the Original Trilogy. I learned so much from the elements in those narratives, both spiritually and creatively. Spiritually in terms of my own personal growth, facing the dark side, if you will, and choosing the hero’s path. And creatively, as a writer, in terms of character motivations, back stories, issues of revenge, mercy, and even individuating from one’s family of origin. That is the sacred way that the Star Wars saga has deeply impacted me, but there is also the fun of it.
My new passion is the collecting. It is hours of fun to look on ThinkGeek.com for a Tauntaun Sleeping bag, or eBay for old school action figures! I loved watching “Jedi Junkies” (a great documentary on collecting). It inspired me! I’m not a die hard collector like the people in the film. They have been doing it way longer than I have. But the Kenner Millennium Falcon is beyond cool – the huge one! That would be a massive score! I was so impressed!
It’s a great interview. You can read the rest here.
The Year of the Fangirl campaign gave me the chance to get to know Amy Ratcliffe, who was part of the initial group of fangirls that helped Her Universe roll out the event. Amy already was a star back then. I get many questions from aspiring bloggers, and I often use Amy as an example of how much you have to hustle and deliver quality work to turn geekdom into a job. Amy interviewed Vanessa Marshall at WonderCon, providing different insight than Megan’s.
N: You’re playing Hera, and she’s a pilot and a leader. But you’ve also played Black Canary, Black Widow – what’s it like to get to portray these kick-ass characters?
VM: It’s awesome. I am a boxer myself, and I also shoot guns. I don’t own a gun; It’s really a focus in meditation, in terms of target practice. It’s not a violent thing whatsoever. So, studying martial arts and things like it, principles of nonviolence actually factor in more, and it’s important to know when to fight and when to yield. And those superheroes, they choose their moments. But when they do or someone threatens them, they totally jump into action. So, I sort of access that part of my own psyche and plug into some of the really feminine archetypal powerful parts too.
N: We saw a brief clip featuring Hera, and from what I’m seeing, she has a take-charge attitude and she’s not afraid to rib Kanan. They’re both leaders of the team; what’s their dynamic?
VM: I think they’re very good friends, and it’s interesting how they work off of each other. I know Hera deeply respects his Jedi abilities. He’s Force sensitive, and much like if I were traveling with Anakin or even Aayla Secura or any female Jedi, I would defer to the Jedi, because obviously they are living in a universe that’s far more vast than the one that I’m able to have access to as a Twi’lek. While she’s sort of the brass tacks of the operation, meaning she can fly really well and she’s also a great fighter in hand to hand combat and also with her blaster, Kanan brings sort of a spiritual element to it, which is almost like a male-female role reversal.
Sounds like Vanessa Marshall really put on her thinking cap to get into her role! Dave Filoni also sat down with Amy. Right out of the box, Amy tackled a question that is important to many fangirls.
NERDIST: One thing I am very much looking forward to in Rebels is that we have a group that’s diverse not only in gender but in age and race. Was that a very conscious decision going in or was it more, “we wrote good characters and this is what worked out?”
DAVE FILONI: A little bit of both. You look around at what’s been done, and there are a lot of characters that exist of a certain color, certain personality, and a certain age. You go, “We don’t want to be just Luke Skywalker again. We don’t want to be just a little blonde kid again.” I think George was way ahead of his time to have Leia be a brunette, frankly. My wife always brings that one up.
We’re trying to reach out to as many people as possible. The world is a much different place now, and I think it’s more universal than it’s ever been, thankfully. At one end of the range, we want to reach young kids. I’m very interested in, “what does it mean to have young kids that are growing up in this time of the Empire?” I think that’s a compelling question especially without Jedi to look after them and to look out for them. I was very much a kid when Star Wars first came out, so I think that’s a great point of view. I think Hera is more of the Captain Solo, and a renegade is a completely necessary character. Like I said [in the panel], it’s so often that women get put in these roles, and it never quite goes all the way. Guys often get to have all the romance, all the fun, all the action, and then still ride off into the sunset without the girl but knowing that the girl is in love with him.
Part of what I always said with Ahsoka [from Star Wars: The Clone Wars] is she’s not going to end up with any of these guys. I acknowledge the fact that it’s normal for young people to fall in love and to care about one another, but that I love the idea for people to know that there’s a broader horizon ahead of them if they choose to embrace it. It’s an important thing for all characters to look at so when they do finally decide to be with somebody in a relationship, it’s a meaningful thing and committed.
But Hera is very tough, obviously it was shown in the clip, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have a maternal side. I think she definitely likes a character like Ezra. She has the sense of how to talk to him, to get him to understand and listen a bit better than Kanan. Kanan has his own struggles as this guy who’s a Jedi. So, we’re able to mix all of these different ideas.
I’ve been stuck on this idea about Mandalorian girls. I’m not sure why. I just think Boba inhabits the area of icon so strongly, and Jango also, that I had a lot of fun making a character like Bo-Katan in Clone Wars. I felt like she was just getting going. So Sabine in some ways is like a follow up in her own right to the Nite Owls from Clone Wars and what they represented. She’s kind of renegade but also powerful, confident, strong, and artistic. That [art] was a very important aspect. There was always a lot modern art in our Mandalorians from Clone Wars, so we wanted Sabine to be expressive. That kind of hearkens back to Roman days when graffiti was a big way of speaking out.
I’ve been really stunned at the reaction to Sabine, because so many fans have already jumped on that. It was crazy. Another reason why I wanted her to be artistic was I’m aware of things like DeviantArt and the ways kids use social media to express their creativity, and I think she really hits that button somehow. Now, Zeb – people are wondering what Zeb is like, asking is that if he’s just our Chewbacca – but he’s really his own strong guy. He speaks, he’s not just going to bark at you. I love Chewie, but Zeb’s different.
We do see this broad range of characters. I don’t always think of it that way so I don’t know how planned it was. I’m glad you pointed out the ethnicities. Mixing that, I think, was something that we did consciously decide to do, but something I learned with Ahsoka that I really liked: I had little girls of all descriptions come up to me and say, “She’s just like me.” And I thought, “That’s such a great thing that she just appeals universally.” I’m hoping our characters have a lot of universal appeal. I want people to connect with them and enjoy this adventure they’re going to go on.
The best part is how much Filoni had to say about diversity – and no “sassy” or “feisty” when describing his “powerful” and “confident” female characters either, which is most appreciated. For more, check out Amy’s complete interview with Vanessa Marshall and Dave Filoni.
Tricia has completed her first novel, Wynde – a military science fiction with a fantastical twist that features heroines Vespa and Gemini. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.