Effervescent sci-fi favorite Gigi Edgley loves DragonCon
An estimated 75,000 people are expected to visit Dragon Con 2016 and one of the most popular destinations is the hallowed Walk Of Fame. For its 30th anniversary, the internationally known pop culture, fantasy, science fiction, and gaming convention has assembled an impressive list of over 400 guests who will participate in panel discussions, Q and A sessions, games, photo and memorabilia signings and photo ops.
Perhaps the best known personality of the lot is William Shatner, beloved to pop culture fans as Captain Kirk from TV's Star Trek. The arch-typical sci-fi show is celebrating its 50 anniversary this year. Over the years a number of the cast have graced the convention and this year Karl Urban, Dr. McCoy from the movie franchise reboot, will also be on hand to meet and greet attendees. For fans of '90s-era television Gillian Anderson, internationally known as Scully from the X-Files, makes a grand return to the Con.
Campy fun is well-represented with a quartet of retro stars from the big and small screen. Sam J. Jones and Melody Anderson from the 1980 edition of "Flash Gordon," will be paired with and Gil Gerard and Erin Gray from NBC's "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century."
This year's gathering will also feature cast members from some of the most popular television shows of the fantasy spectrum including Dr. Who, Gotham, Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Grimm, Torchwood, iZombie, Dark Matter, Ghost Hunters, The 100, Firefly, Dollhouse, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and spin-off Angel, and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Mystery Science Theater 3000, Battlestar Galactica and Stargate.
Another milestone this year is the 30th anniversary of "Labyrinth," the fantasy film featuring David Bowie, Jennifer Connolly and a gaggle of Jim Henson's fantastic creations. Henson's puppeteer son Brian is slated for a panel discussion about the film.
Perhaps no single person embodies the overall blithe spirit of the Con more completely than actress/singer/director/ producer/artist/activist Gigi Edgley. A Renaissance woman of the arts, she's best known for her role as the bewitching Chiana on the cult favorite series Farscape from the Jim Henson Company.
But the Perth-born Edgley has appeared in other memorable roles, including The Lost World and BeastMaster, Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge, cutting edge indie films and audio dramas. True to the iconic nature of the genre, the Deadliest Fandom host has been immortalized with action figures, video games, trading cards, and a series of comic books.
After a recent rehearsal with her rootsy Americana band, Edgley spoke with Insite. Naturally talk quickly turned quickly to DragonCon.
As a vet of cons across the country, what's your take on DragonCon?
It's an awesome convention! I promote it year 'round. I do conferences almost back-to-back and I'm always on different things and I rave on about it everywhere. I often say you haven't even been to a convention unless you've gone to DragonCon. It's a world all its own.
It's very fan-driven.
It's always been one of my favorites because of that. I was just ComicCon and that's always a momentous occasion but it's sort of going in a different area. It's almost Hollywood, and that's good too but DragonCon is unique because almost everyone there dresses up.
How did band rehearsal go today?
So much fun. I've always enjoyed singing and I used to sing with my brother in Australia. We had a little duo thing. Then I had some downtime when I was shooting Creatureshop and I met a group of friends that I love and adore. We became the band called The Fancies. (thefanciesband.com)
How do you describe the sound?
It's a bit hard to describe. It's sort of organic bluegrass. People come up and they say, 'Oh, you're a bit of country or bluegrass.' But we just try to embrace it all. We take unique covers and make them our own. It's really nice to be with a group of people and just jamming it out, especially in this day and age where everybody's on their iPhone on their Twitter and Facebook, you know? So in-between all the craziness of going to auditions and everything, it was so nice to meet this group of people who play and sing their hearts out.
You've turned into quite the center-stage percussionist.
(Laughs) Yeah. A while back, we spent a few days in Joshua Tree to shoot video for the Black Keys' "Tighten Up." And I saw this incredible drum. I said, 'Oh can I play this? They were like, 'Oh no, what are we getting into?' But it was fun to introduce this new thing into the band because I was just singing and everyone else played instruments so I kind of felt left out. So I dragged his cajon into the mix. You know, it's a sit-on drum. So now I'm the percussion section and they keep throwing things at me to bang, which I love!
Your vocal approach really works well within the Americana style.
I think it's because I'm very old-school. I love the old stuff like Nina Simone and old Hollywood-style musicals. I love that era, even though I've done dance music. But a lot of times when I've done it, it just doesn't feel as organic as this does.
The laid-back roots-rock is literally worlds away from the kinetic convention excitement.
Yeah but It's been astronomical that after so many years after the show, people still come up to me to tell me all these beautiful stories about it. They share how they were inspired or how they were going through a really hard time with their family or a rough personal battle. It's so cool to really see how far around the world Farscape has reached.
You're known in the States for the sci-fi roles, but it certainly hasn't pigeonholed your career.
I always search for stories that inspire me, challenge me and help me follow my dreams. I just want to do stories that will move people and take them to a far-off, amazing place, wherever that may be. That's the whole reason I moved to America initially, because I'd been going back and forth from here to Australia for the past ten years before I moved here. It was bad timing at first because I moved here in the middle of the writer's strike! So I wrote my own film called "Nobody Knows," which people can watch online now for free if they're into it.
That was based on one of your comics, right?
It was all about a moment that happened to me on Farscape and I was excited to actually be on the other side of the camera and see what it's like to direct and see it from that angle. I used all of my money on that. People come up at the cons and they say, 'Oh it must be such a nice life, so glamorous and the limousines and all that." But I'm very honest with them when I say, 'Well there's some of that, but mostly it's about finding a way to pay your bills so you can keep telling amazing stories.'
You host the Deadliest Fandom battles and yet you seem to be the biggest fan of the Con fans.
I totally am! I love them all. I'm usually the most overzealous fan there, actually! I'm just so grateful to the people who have been along with me on my journey and I really enjoy going out and meeting everyone. They have to pull away from me usually, because I love to share all the stories. And you never know who you'll meet. At DragonCon actually, I met the beautiful production team from Runic Films and they asked me if I'd like to read the idea for a movie called "Hashtag."
What did you think when you read it?
Oh, I loved it. It was the light at the end of a very dark tunnel because I'd moved here to continue work on Creatureshop Challenge and when it didn't continue I didn't know what I was going to do. But these guys literally saved my life. They put me back on the screen again and gave me a renewed purpose for living. It's such a beautiful story.
That's the film you crowd-funded, correct.
Yes and I'd never done that before. I wasn't sure about it. Everyone has always been so gracious to me and helped me out, I was a little scared to say, 'Oh and hey guys, I'm making a movie.' But they made up some little flyers to put on the convention table. I found out that people really love Kickstarter and all that because you become a team and you can tell some amazing stories together. I finally feel like I've joined forces with the fans to tell this story. It's in post-production now and I'm so excited about it. People can check out www.runicfilms.com to learn a little more about it. Our plan is to take it to Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals and all that and get some street cred, then take it to investors and make a full-length film of it. It's so exciting! I love staying busy; I just have to channel all this energy into something creative.
DragonCon 2016 runs through Labor Day weekend, September 2 - 5, with events and activities at AmericasMart and the Hyatt Regency, Marriott Marquis, Hilton, Westin Peachtree and Sheraton Hotels. For more information, visit dragoncon.org.merchandise.