I am happy to introduce May 2016’s Sci-Fi Women Interviews guest: Amanda Ward. I was lucky to meet her through the Star Wars community a couple of years ago and was grateful when she accepted the invitation to join fellow Star Wars Fangirls and Bloggers previously interviewed for this series.
Amanda is the administrator of MakingStarWars.net and co-host of Rebel Grrrl, a new podcast from MakingStarWars.net. She occasionally contributes content as well as handles public relations and media inquiries for the site. Amanda is married to Jason and mom to Luke Danger and Penny Rebel. You can also connect with her on Twitter.
NG: How were you first introduced to Science Fiction?
WARD: My older brother was born in 1975 and so was a Star Wars kid. I grew up in a home that just always had Star Wars movies and merchandise to play with. My brother took most of his stuff when he moved out when I was 5, but I did get to keep copies of the films and watch them a lot. If I was to nitpick and say that Star Wars isn’t truly science fiction 😉 I’d say my true introduction to science fiction was at the age of 15 when I found Dune Messiah by Frank Herber in a local bookstore.
NG: What are you top 3 favorites for Science Fiction books, TV shows and movies?
- The Jesus Incident by Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom
- Children of Dune by Frank Herbert (and also the SyFy channel mini series)
- Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
NG: Which Science Fiction characters have had the greatest influence on you?
WARD: It seems cliche to say, but absolutely Princess Leia has been a great influence on me in recent years. The biggest thing I’ve learned from her is to not take any crap from anyone and hold true to your convictions entirely. Leia is a boss, and I hope some day to be half the woman she (and Carrie) is. I also really love Sarah Connor, particularly from The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I wish I could be that strong. Jessica Atreides is a favorite of mine too, I guess. She’s such a humanizing character. An extremely intelligent and perfectly trained being who still makes such tragic mistakes because she’s human. I just really adore Frank Herbert’s women characters. 😀
NG: What makes the Star Wars prequels as worthy as the rest of the franchise to you?
WARD: I think the first thing people need to realize about me when talking Prequels is that I am first and foremost a George Lucas movie fan. I love everything he’s ever made and his aesthetic and story telling style really connect with me. For this reason I cannot dislike the prequels. That’s not to say I have reasons to dislike them and I stubbornly choose not to. They just work for me. They don’t work for everyone and that’s fine.
To answer your question, what makes the Star Wars prequels as worthy as the rest of the franchise is that they’re not that different. Jar Jar is only as annoying as C-3PO. The dialogue in Attack of the Clones is not worse than the dialogue in Return of the Jedi. The CGI is really not any more obtrusive than obvious models and a Millennium Falcon that barely moves in some OT shots.
These are things that are apparent to me when I watch the films and I can take them for what they are and enjoy the films when I watch them. I’ve given up on trying to convince others because I’ve found perspective is about as hard to find as a needle in a hay stack for Star Wars fans. I have such a huge appreciation for not just the movies that were made but the technological innovation that came with them and George Lucas’ “I’ll make my movies how I want” attitude when it came to the prequels. That’s why I find them worthy.
NG: What brought you to blogging and podcasting about Star Wars?
WARD: My husband is an ethnographer with a deep appreciation for Star Wars history. He’s been teaching me things I didn’t know about the making of Star Wars for over 10 years. After we lost our first child I found support on Tumblr and Jason found a huge group of Star Wars fans who shared his passion for the making of process. He started curating behind the scenes Star Wars images and created the blog that eventually became MakingStarWars.net
NG: Do you have any upcoming projects you are working on?
WARD: Personally I’m just working on perfecting my podcast Rebel Grrrl. Hoping to maybe add a third host later this year. I’m also going to start covering Star Wars rumors other places around the web besides Making Star Wars. 🙂 Jason and Randy of Now, This Is Podcasting! have a really exciting project coming in June!
NG: What do you think of the recent development of the Star Wars franchise in terms of female characters?
WARD: I think Star Wars has made grown in leaps and bounds for female characters in the past few years. I cannot wait to see what else Kathleen Kennedy can do for women in film both in front of the camera and behind it!
NG: What influence does being a fangirl have in your life?
WARD: Being a fangirl has really taught me a lot about not giving credit to negative people or their opinions. On a positive note I’ve met a lot of amazing parents who’ve taught me great, positive ways to incorporate my passions in to how I raise my kids.
NG: Do you think that Fangirls are an expression of Feminism?
WARD: I think anywhere where women are carving out their place where they’re not necessarily wanted or seen as traditionally belonging is an expression of Feminism. So yes, I definitely see fangirls as a good example of that.
It’s incredibly frustrating being a fangirl and having to justify your existence in fandom, but I see incredible examples of fangirls young and old doing this every day and it gives me such strength. For every negative comment about a female lead in Star Wars there are 100 talented and intelligent girls screaming their fandom from the roof tops and showing it off in life and on social media, so the feminists are out there, even if they don’t know that’s what they are yet!
NG: How do you think fangirls can change media industries?
WARD: If there’s one thing that’s common among all fandoms it’s that we all like to buy stuff. A lot of stuff. And money talks. I think a great way for fangirls to influence media industries is to show just how much of a chunk of the audience we are by buying tickets, watching the TV shows and wearing the merchandise. We also need women writing, blogging, YouTubing and podcasting about media as much as possible particularly about women’s issues in media.
NG: Thank you very much for being here with us today, Amanda! I am sure my readers will be happy to check your projects out and connect with you!