Welcome to the last feature of #SciFi Women Interviews for 2017! I am so happy and honored that this series is completing its third year! I am delighted to welcome Megan Zomboracz Cullinan today! She is one of the wonderful fellow Star Wars and overall nerdy ladies I have had the pleasure to meet through nerdy blogging and Twitter.
Megan Zomboracz Cullinan hails from Illinois and is a bank manager by day, a singer/voice teacher by night and a fangirl all day long! Her favorite genres are Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Comedy. She has been a Star Wars fan since the Special Editions brought the Original Trilogy back to the big screen and immediately dove into the Expanded Universe as well. If she is not working or watching Star Wars, you will often find her on stage performing in musicals or behind the scenes music directing. Megan also keeps busy by co-hosting the Star Wars: Legends and Lore podcast where she talks about Star Wars books. Along with that, she has a Star Wars themed blog about her recent journey with breast cancer and chronicles her hair regrowth journey on Instagram! You can also find her on Twitter.
NG: How were you first introduced to Science Fiction?
ZOMBORACZ CULLINAN: Thinking back to my childhood, I was always attracted to Science Fiction TV shows, movies, and books. Once I became a teenager, I started being more aware of my fascination with the genre. Stargate was the first movie I remember having a really big impact on me. My mom had rented it from the library not knowing anything about it, but thought it would be something I’d like. I remember sitting for hours, watching it over and over again until it had to be returned! Then when the Stargate SG-1 TV show was introduced, it became my very first “fandom.” I just remember being so excited to watch it every week.
NG: What place does Science Fiction have in your life?
ZOMBORACZ CULLINAN: When looking for something new to watch or read, I tend to lean towards Science Fiction first. I recall spending hours in the small corner of the library pouring through all of the Science Fiction books available when I was a teenager. I definitely find an escape while watching or reading Science Fiction. While my tastes have changed as I’ve gotten older, Science Fiction has always been the backbone of what I ultimately like. I didn’t know much about Star Wars when they released the special editions in 1997, but I knew I had to watch them because of my love for Sci-Fi. Star Wars then became my ultimate fandom! I found out that there were tons of books I could dive into as well and it opened up a whole new world for me.
NG: What are your three favorite Science Fiction books, TV shows, and movies?
ZOMBORACZ CULLINAN: My favorite Sci-Fi movies are: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Stargate, and The Matrix. My favorite Sci-Fi TV shows are: Stargate SG1, The X-Files, and Alias. My favorite Sci-Fi books are: A Wrinkle in Time, The Golden Compass, and ALL the Star Wars books!
NG: What are the Science Fiction female characters you have found most significant?
ZOMBORACZ CULLINAN: Princess Leia from Star Wars, Samantha Carter from Stargate SG1, Rey from Star Wars, Sydney Bristow from Alias, and Dana Scully from The X-Files. They are all strong and independent characters that are also very smart. I think that the qualities I love in them are the qualities that I aspire to have as well. When I think about Leia, she has had this incredible journey and is a character that women and girls can look to and be inspired by her strength, intelligence, and wittiness. Despite all she has been through, she carries on and does what is right. The same can be said for all of my other favorite characters. Their journeys may be different, but their tenacity and strength are inspirational.
NG: Do you think that Science Fiction is a genre welcoming to women?
ZOMBORACZ CULLINAN: Yes and no. I think there have been many well-rounded female characters to come from Science Fiction, but I think we are just now getting to a point where we see female characters more often being prominent in the stories being told. The character of Rey form Star Wars is such a bright light for the next generation of fangirls. I think that it is extremely important that women get more opportunities to be writers and directors in this genre as well. That is something I really want to see more of. Our voices need to be heard!
NG: How much do you think fangirls can influence the media industry?
ZOMBORACZ CULLINAN: Fangirls are a powerful force! As long as we stand up and make our voices heard, we can influence what we see and what is available in fashion. There are so many great and diverse ideas out there, and we need to make that known. There definitely has been improvement in the fashion side of fandom, which I’m really happy about. I truly believe we have been able to influence that. In fact, in 2015 before The Force Awakens came out, I tweeted at Kohl’s and stated that while I liked being able to buy Star Wars clothes at the store, I had to find them in the men’s section and wished they would provide a women’s line of clothing. And many months later, they gave me the opportunity to model their new Star Wars line with other Star Wars fangirls! So shout it out loud, because it works!
NG: Do you think Science Fiction helps fostering discussion about societal issues?
ZOMBORACZ CULLINAN: Yes, absolutely! I think you can find parallels to societal issues in any genre. A show may focus on people living on a space colony, but there will always be issues with learning to live together like we do on Earth. We may not be able to wield lightsabers or have to fight against the Dark Side of the Force, but there are definitely parallels to the wars and issues we fight here. I often consider the futuristic issues Science Fiction offers as a warning to our current society. If we continue on certain paths like a constant reliance on technology or wastefulness, it may not bode well for our future. But hope for a better future is also a big part of Science Fiction which we can relate to.
NG: Can you tell us about your experience creating “I Rebel: My Cancer War”?
ZOMBORACZ CULLINAN: When I first started my treatments for breast cancer, every day was a fight and struggle, but it was really important for me to stay positive. I wanted to start documenting my journey from the beginning, but chemo was really hard on me. I wanted to still work full-time, which I did but after work I was just too tired to do much else. Once I finished my first set of treatments, I moved on to treatments which were not as hard on me, so I was able to move out of the fatigue and start writing my story. I wanted to do something creative, so I decided to format it in episodes like the Star Wars movies. With the Star Wars parallel, I can use quotes and situations from the movies to help enhance my story. I am so glad that I have been able to write my thoughts down as it has been very therapeutic for me and has been able to help others who have been going through a similar health crisis. My ultimate goal is to provide hope in even the darkest of circumstances.
NG: What are some of your favorite memories about Carrie Fisher?
ZOMBORACZ CULLINAN: Carrie Fisher was a breath of fresh air; a beacon of light in our society. She became one of the most iconic characters in history as Princess Leia. She also showed us that we should always be our own strange and wonderful selves and to never apologize for it. I always loved watching her being interviewed because you never knew what she was going to say, but it was always smart and witty! She is missed greatly.
NG: What are you most looking forward in the Star Wars universe?
ZOMBORACZ CULLINAN: Star Wars is so vast; there are so many stories that can be told. I’m definitely drawn to stories involving the Force and the Jedi. I am most intrigued with how that will all play out in this trilogy and in future stories. I just hope we continue to see strong, diverse characters and new, adventurous stories. What I hope to see in this current trilogy, is to see Luke, Leia, and Rey’s story comes to a satisfying conclusion.
NG: Thank you so much for being with us today, Megan! Happy holidays!