Wizard World Portland 2015 ~ Museled Highlights

After announcing that we'd be heading to Portland to offer up press coverage of this year's Wizard World Portland, we were contacted by Tony Kim (Crazy4ComicCon.com) about being a panelist on his "The Most Racist Panel Ever," which would be part of his ongoing series of panels entitled, "The Battle For Multicultural Heroes." Tony moderated his panel, while Victor of Vantage Inhouse Productions and I contributed to Tony's panel by offering up our thoughts on matters of race and representation in media. I took time to address such issues as intersectionality, anti-blackness and its relations to shadism & colourism, as well as the importance of solidarity within the community of those who claim to care about these issues. All in all, it was a successful panel that seemed to strike a chord with many of those in attendance.

The line-up for Portland was positively stacked with guests whom we were looking forward to meeting, many of whom we had never had before. But unsurprisingly, our top priority was to meet Ming-Na Wen ("Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," "Mulan," "The Joy Luck Club," "ER"), whom we've met on more than one prior occasion but can never resist meeting when the opportunity presents itself. As Ming-Na was only going to be there on Saturday, her table was where we headed first thing that morning. Ming-Na also has a practice of asking her fans to bring her beaded bracelets so we brought along a bracelet we had bought while home in Japan for the holidays. We also brought along some hand-fans for which to use for a cheekily-posed ode-to-Mulan photo and Ming-Na was more than happy to oblige! We even insisted that she keep the fan she posed with, saying, "I have plenty more back in my room!"

One thing that's good to keep in mind when budgeting for a Wizard World convention is that some guests will sell "selfies" that are typically cheaper than the professionally shot photo-ops so if your funds are limited, this is an excellent option to use. If the guests are too in-demand, the likelihood of their offering this decreases but you'll never know for sure who is offering it until you get to the con itself.

Not only did we make use of this "selfie" option for Ming-Na, we also did so for Tyler Posey ("Teen Wolf"). Tyler has a personality we've dubbed "Eleven Red Bulls," as he is enormously energetic and outgoing. As some fans were nervous, starstruck, or generally overwhelmed, Tyler went above and beyond to make each experience meaningful and memorable for them. When we got up to him, we first had photos taken by his handler, after which Tyler agreed to take photos more befitting of the term "selfie." But first, we had to alter our camera by putting the flip-screen up, to which Tyler responded with, "Whoa! Is that a transformer?" He grew progressively more excited with each photo he snapped and by the end, he was nearly yelling at the top of his lungs. Before heading off, we told him how much we enjoy his work on "Teen Wolf," and how important it is that he be playing a non-stereotyped Hispanic lead on such a successful show and even more so now that there is a double-POC interracial relationship for his character. Tyler responded with the utmost appreciation and a hug, too!

The guest with the longest queues at the convention was Stephen Amell ("Arrow"). Stephen has amassed a large following on his social media, particularly on Facebook where he has used his following to raise large sums of money for various charities. We first decided to do a photo-op with him and were told by the Wizard World workers that Stephen had two rules: no handshakes and no kissing. The handshake rule is because with all of the autographs Stephen had to sign, it would do no good for over-excited fans of a larger stature to squeeze too hard. The kissing rule, well, should be self-explanatory because 1) he's married and 2) personal boundaries, much? When it was our turn, we had but one request, "Will you pick me up?" His reply? "Sure." We've been asked more than once how it is that we get such memorable photo-ops and we'll simply tell you that you should respect whomever you're asking's boundaries. Be respectful, treat them like the human being they are, and don't give them any reason to worry that you're going to do something you shouldn't. It's simple! We later went back to have Stephen sign our photo-op and congratulated him on his recent campaign to raise money for "F*ck Cancer" and when we asked if he'd be willing to let Candice Patton and Jesse L. Martin know that the work they've done means a great deal to the POC community and that we'd love to see them at more conventions, he was more than happy to relay the message.

Later that night, we had the pleasure of meeting Ming-Na Wen and Brett Dalton ("Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.") while out for a drink. Ming-Na came over as soon as she saw us and gave us a big hug, and even came by later on in the night to make sure we had a picture with her before she left. Brett was just as generous, and when we told him how we had been in the show's press room at SDCC 2014 and had unintentionally been the only one able to ask him any questions before the handlers rushed him off, he noted how it's always a shame when interviews are too hurried to allow more opportunity to more thoroughly discuss the show's content.

Another largely popular guest we knew he had to meet was Karl Urban, since we've always loved "Lord of the Rings" and he is by far, one of the strongest performers in the divisive "Star Trek" film reboots. We'd also sat in for part of his panel and found him to be entirely hilarious and charming. For our photo-op, we asked, "Can we do overacting like Shatner?" (An idea that we'd gotten from seeing Karl do a spot-on Captain Kirk impersonation at his panel). Once we got up to his table to have him sign it, we found he loved the photo we had taken together. We also talked about "Star Trek" and how much we love DeForest Kelley.

Next to Karl's table was Katee Sackhoff's so we went over to meet her, too. Katee had first piqued our attention back in 2013 when we attended the "Kickass Women" panel at SDCC in Hall H (which had other panelists including Maggie Q, Tatiana Maslany, Danai Gurira, and Michelle Rodriguez). Katee was enormously interesting to talk to as we talked about how much we loved that panel, she asked about my camera, and even shared about some of her upcoming projects. We'd have kept talking were it not for the fact that there were more people waiting behind us and so her handler hurried us to finish up.

Giancarlo Esposito was also in attendance, and perhaps one of the most interesting people we talked to. Upon telling him how much we admire and respect the way he has navigated his career and played such diverse characters and avoided playing stereotyped roles, Giancarlo responded with a hug and proceeded to tell us about his growing up mixed Black/Italian and how his multiculturalism has influenced his approach to the work he chooses.

One final person about whom we'll share meeting is Sasha Roiz ("Grimm"). We had decided on doing a photo-op with him but first decided to walk up and say hello so as to break the ice beforehand. "Grimm" films in Portland and much of the cast has taken up residency there as a result of it. Sasha has been to SDCC but this was a newer experience for Sasha, to be at a convention where his first priority wasn't to promote his work. He's very friendly and nice to talk to, and we told him that we'd be doing a photo-op with him and be back to have him sign it afterwards. About our photo-op, we simply told him, "It's going to be awesome." ~ Awesome, it was! We spun into him and had his arms hold us and when we returned to have him sign it, we were greeted with a big laugh and a "You completely blind sighted me!" My response? "I told you it was going to be awesome!"

Wizard World Portland was another tremendously fun convention that we can add to our list of happy memories. Having now attended Wizard World in first Reno and now Portland, we can say that we're quite impressed with how the organisation runs its events and how much of a priority they make it for those in attendance to enjoy their time there. We're already making plans to attend this year's Wizard Worlds in both Las Vegas and Sacramento so stay tuned for more coverage and stories!

Here's our video recapping our personal highlights and all our photos that we shared are at the end!


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