September guest for #SciFi Women Interviews is Tracy Gardner! I met her about one or two years ago through the Star Wars online community (I am pretty sure it was thanks to Johnamarie Macias and/or Amanda Ward). I am glad Tracy is with us today.
I will let her introduce herself:
I’m a Los Angeles native with a degree in Art History and Women’s studies from UC Irvine. I worked for art collectives and institutions, primarily focusing on public works, performance art, and archives. I have a passion for history, art and technology. I’m an aspiring artist and one half of the podcast Rebel Grrrl on the Making Star Wars network. Additionally, I’m a whiskey and craft spirit specialist, as well as a fine dining server of ten years in Orange County.
NG: How were you first introduced to Science Fiction?
GARDNER: I was introduced through films and books. As a child I was an avid reader. H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs had a huge effect on me. I’m pretty sure I read The Time Machine at least ten times when I was 11. Films like The Day the Earth Stood still captured my imagination and started a life long obsession with Science Fiction and fantasy.
NG: What are you top 3 favorites for Science Fiction books, TV shows and movies?
GARDNER: 3 is so hard to narrow down! My top three books are Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, Saga by Bryan K. Vaughan and the Time Machine by Margaret Atwood. For TV shows, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek and The Twilight Zone. For movies I’d have to say The Empire Strikes Back, The Day the Earth Stood Still and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
NG: Which Science Fiction characters have had the greatest influence on you?
GARDNER: I would have to say Starbuck from BSG, and Princess Leia and Padme from Star Wars.
NG: What place does Science Fiction have in your life?
GARDNER: It’s not only a personal interest, obsession, and hobby, but it has greatly influenced my academic pursuits. I’m very interested in the agency and role of women in Science Fiction. I love reading and writing about the history and cultural significance of Science Fiction. I believe the stories we tell are indicative of our complicated relationships with technology, progress and industry.
NG: How did you start podcasting?
GARDNER: I had a commute from Orange County to Hollywood and I started listening to quite a few podcasts. I loved the format and ease of conveying culturally relevant information in a casual, genuine manner. It felt like something I could do. I actually started podcasting with Randy from MSW back in 2011. The focus was video games. From there I started Force Cult, which is still around. I’m excited to be back home at MSW doing Rebel Grrrl with my cohost Amanda.
NG: Can you tell us more about your Science Fiction-related projects?
GARDNER: I’m currently finishing my Masters degree in American studies with and large emphasis on art and technology. Science Fiction has fallen perfectly into this emphasis and I hope to keep analyzing marginalized identities within Science Fiction. I also paint scenes from my favorite Science Fiction. My art is mixed media and can be found at irebelart.bigcartel.com
NG: Do you think that Science Fiction’s responsibility in diverse and inclusive representation?
GARDNER: Science Fiction has historically been a mirror for society’s fears and anxieties, as well as its optimisms. Like most media, It has a complicated history of further marginalizing certain identities. I argue consistently that Science Fiction has a responsibility to its fans to be more diverse. It’s an opportunity to represent and grant agency through story telling that is otherwise absent.
NG: Do you think that Fangirls are an expression of Feminism?
GARDNER: Absolutely. I’m so impressed by what the trans/queer/female/minority fans around me are accomplishing. We’re challenging the status quo and carving out a space in a traditionally male dominated fandom.
NG: How do you think fangirls can change media industries?
GARDNER: I think we already have. You can’t ignore the influence we’ve had. We’re consumers, content creators and and an ever growing vocal presence in media. We’re getting strong female leads. There will be set backs, but we are seeing changes.
NG: What hopes do you have for the future of the Star Wars franchise?
GARDNER: I hope for an integrity and commitment to meaningful stories. Star Wars shaped my childhood because at its core, it’s a powerful story. The allusions to mythologies and the resonance of the saga come from a deep and passionate place. I hope this legacy is respected and protected by future writers and directors.
NG: Thank you very much, Tracy! I am certain my readers will be glad to find more about your projects and check your art out.