I have taken a few days between the Con ending and now, I figured it would give me time to process what exactly happened that magical weekend… Turns out, it only made the job harder.
To articulate what happened, what I and many who attended the Con experienced- is near to impossible to do without sounding cheesy or ideological. But it was. That’s exactly what it was.
We created a space where everyone was accepted. We created a space where people of all ages, races, sexual orientation, gender identity, and belief system felt loved and accepted. Above all, we created a safe space where people could be vulnerable without fear of judgement. For those three days we had created a sort of Utopua for ourseves; no one fought, everyone was respectful, there was constructive conversations about race, representation, and how we could make our world a better place.
I arrived to Bally’s not expecting much, maybe 200-300 people- what I was met with was a convention center filled and a line that went on way past my wildest imagination. I picked up my camera, slapped on my “staff” badge, and I got to work.
Walking around the convention center I was met with so many beautiful faces. I tried to strike up a conversation with everyone I met before I take the picture- you can look in the eyes of anyone I had taken a picture with over that weekend. It’s my firm belief the difference between a good shot and a great shot is the relationship you build between a subject and yourself, you can see it in their eyes exactly what they’re thinking… If they like you or not, if they’re comfortable or not, if they want to be there or not.
I hope when my photos come out you can see what I saw through that lens… A group of amazing, passionate, beautiful women from all walks of life and all places.
Now getting to what I assume all of you have read this far for: Yes, Katherine, Dominique, Natasha, Elise, Elizabeth, Rachel, Zoie, Sarah, Amy, Jasika, and everyone are some of the nicest, most sincere people I’ve ever met. But I want to talk about a particular couple right now… WayHaught, or Kat and Dom. Listen to me when I tell you- I have never met two nicer, down to earth, smart, beautiful and incredible women. When Dominique talks to you, you feel like you two are the only ones in the room, she engages you in a way that’s almost hypnotozing, she makes physical contact to make sure you know she’s genuinely listening to what you’re saying… And Kat, where do I even begin. If you’ve ever watched an interview or a video of Kat talking, you can hear the kindness in her voice. When you talk to her you feel an almost safety blanket put around you, that she’s there for you no matter what.
The Shoot, WayHaught, and Hollstein panel was absolutely insane- and you could tell thqt the actresses thought it was just as bonkers as we did. I also want to take a moment to recognize all of the amazing panelists/interviewers- you guys made a hard job look easy. And Dana, having Elise and Natasha read from Clexa/Xena and Gabrielle/Carol scripts was one of the greatest things ever done on a panel EVER. It was unbelievable. Everyone I met over that weekend kept repeating the same question over and over… “Is this really happening?”
Yes. It happened.
I also met many people in the industry that I’ve long admired, notably Emily Andras (If you know me well, you know I was on board with Wynonna Earp since day one). I also took her writing class, the central theme of it being a WayHaught wedding- (she knows us too well 👀) and I learned so much valuable writing/industry rules to follow and goals to keep working on that I will never forget… Least of all my favorite piece of advice, “You know you’ve made it the first time you say ‘no’ in the writers room.”
Oh… And did I mention Sara Ramirez showed up? So, let me tell you a little story- on Saturday I worked about 10 hours, just photographing everyone and everything. I realized I had to finish a 5 page paper due for my English class that I had to get in before midnight, so at 10 p.m. I get to my hotel, write my essay and send it in… I then get peer Pressured into going into the “Sinful” party (Thanks Evan and Sam 😜) and didn’t get back to my hotel until around 3:30 am… So I slept in and unfortunately missed the Queer POC representation panel (the one I was really looking forward to) but by pure luck they were doing a part 2 later on! So… I get to the panel, and I use the term panel loosely as it was more of a very large group discussion about everything from race to safe spaces and who shows up? Sara Ramirez in all of her beautiful Bisexual glory. After that, she sort of became a panelist as well- talking about mental health (which hey ClexaCon 2018 how about a mental health panel!) And the difficulties growing up Bisexual and biracial. After the panel the entire room had a group hug.
Believe me when I tell you, Sara is one of the most charming people I met that weekend- and I learned more than I could ever thank her and the panel for. Being a queer white woman I know of many things, I know about mental health issues because I’ve suffered them, I know what it’s like to be in a wheelchair for an extended period of time and the difficulties that entails (and I also know how hard it is to re-learn how to walk), I know about being gay, and I know about having white privelage.
What I don’t know is race, what it means to be biracial, trans, Bisexual, asexual, gender non conforming, and many many other things. And I will never pretend that I do. Because I can’t possibly know what I haven’t experienced. That’s why as a screenwriter and someone who tells stories it was imperative for me to ask the amazing and diverse people in that room what I can do to help tell their stories and if it was okay to ask for them to help me do so, what they wanted to see in strong female characters that represents who they are. They were so gracious and kind, they gave so many wonderful suggestions and guidelines to work on that I will always keep in mind. I didn’t say much during the panel but that was the entire point of being a white woman in a room about Queer POC representation… It was my job to shut up and listen to them. And I’m so glad I did.
To Alexia, Sam, Lisa, Evan, literally ALL of the amazing organizers and volunteers- we have made something that will last for years to come. I hope to see you all next year for ClexaCon 2018, because there’s no way we’re letting this little piece of Utopia go.