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Exclusive Interview with Actress, Writer, Producer and Web Creator Felicia Day

11745487_1675266202693791_5298977273014658300_nAs an actress, producer, and writer, Felicia Day is truly a force to be reckoned with. She scored her first major television role in 2003, as the character Vi in the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and has subsequently been a part of a multitude of iconic shows, including Monk, Roommates, Dollhouse, Eureka, and Supernatural. However, she is probably best known for her work in the web video world, behind and in front of the camera. In addition to co-starring in Joss Whedon’s Emmy-winning Internet musical Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog, she created and starred in the hit web series The Guild, which ran for six seasons. She also launched her own production company Knights of Good, which produced the web series Dragon Age and the YouTube channel Geek & Sundry. In 2012, the company was purchased by Legendary Entertainment, and Day continues to act as the chief creative officer, developing web content and television shows.

Her accomplishments don’t stop there; she published her memoir You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir in 2015, which became an instant New York Times bestseller. That same year, she landed a part in the hit web series Con Man, starring alongside Alan Tudyk, Nathan Fillion, and Mindy Sterling. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Day about how she got involved in Con Man, the show’s brilliant new game, Con Man: The Game, which is available for free through the iOS App Store and Google Play, and her love for the Star Trek franchise. Check it out below!

What inspired you to go into acting?

I did a lot of theater when I was a kid; we moved around a lot because my father was in the military and I was home-schooled because of that. Therefore, the one consistent thing in my life was doing plays and getting involved with theater everywhere I moved. So, I got hooked early on, especially knowing that there was a place that I could go to create with other people who felt like I did and who I admired.

How did you come to get involved with the “Con Man” series?

I’ve known Alan Tudyk through conventions and other events for years; I’m a huge admirer of his work, and he’s an amazing guy. Several years ago, he came to me with this idea to do a web series about conventions, and I got to read the script and was so impressed with it. I was like “Let me know when you want to do this because I want to be a part of it. It’s a great thing, and I really love your voice. And, we need more higher-value stuff on the web!” So, fast-forward to one of the biggest Kickstarters in history, and hopefully season two and beyond! (laughs).

What is it about the web series format that you like?

Well, I love that people are making content that’s outside the standard, and that might not be heard on a bigger level. Now, it can be heard because of more opportunities and fan support—regardless of how niche it is, fans are going to want to support that content and those creators. So, it really is the democratization of content, and I love that because I think that we see enough of what we are used to on TV. I think the great thing about the web is that it allows the consumer to lift up who they think is worthwhile, and I think the money is following that creatively.

Is there a particular web series that you’re really into right now?

I mean, I’m always addicted to “Crash Course”; when I’m bored, I just load up a few of those episodes to try to learn something (laughs). I love that “High Maintenance” has turned into a television show; to me, that’s fantastic. And another friend of mine who I know from the web has a hit on HBO as well, so I love that particular network for championing and finding talent online, and elevating it. Hopefully, there will be more and more in the future.

Let’s switch gears and talk about “Con Man: The Game” because I love this game; it’s very quirky. Was this game something that you and the rest of the cast and crew envisioned for a while?

P.J. and Alan were working on the game a year before. I remember “Fallout Shelter” coming out and I was playing it on set during season one, and P.J. was playing it too, and he said “It’s funny because I’m developing a game called ‘Con Man’ through this amazing studio, Frima Studio”—which actually released one of my favorite games called “Chariot,” so if you’re ever looking for a game to play with someone else sitting in the room with you, I would highly suggest that one. (laughs). It is definitely one that you can have fun with and play with your friends on the couch. So, those two things together, I was so thrilled, because P.J., the producer, he’s a big gamer—authentically a gamer—and Alan has this crazy sense of humor, so I knew the combination would be amazing. It really is a legitimately great strategy game about conventions, and it has these crazy, weird things in it like Joss Whedon as a janitor. So, I love that Alan’s quirky sense of humor is totally infused into this game. It’s really fun and well-executed.

I love Kevin Smith as the security guard!

Um, yes! (laughs) I didn’t even know that was happening and when I saw that, I was like “What?!”

As an avid gamer, what was it like to be a producer on this game?

It was very different from what I am used to doing. I’m used to being on the other side of video games and of course the voice-over side. It was really, really fun to peek behind the curtain and see really what goes into a game. I have to say that I appreciate people that I didn’t appreciate before because it is really challenging to execute a game on that kind of level. In Hollywood, I know how hard it is to get things made. So, now, even if it’s a bad show that I don’t like, I admire the fact that people got it made in the first place. It’s just phenomenal to get something executed on the longer lead time of video-game production. It kind of makes television look fast! (laughs)

How much say did you have over the format of the game and your character’s avatar?

The format of the game was pretty locked when I came in—I came in a little later in the year so, by that time, the basis of the game was pretty stable. I was really happy to have an input. I was able to offer suggestions about playability and details that they could add; I did a lot of voice-overs, which was fun. It was nice to have my hands in a little bit of everything and also just to be involved and giving feedback on so many different levels as the game progressed. I just loved seeing and being able to be a part of that process.

Could you see yourself doing more of that in the future?

I could! (laughs) One of my fantasies involves hanging it up to design an adventure game. There’s this thing called Twine that you can use to create your own adventure games, and I always thought that was a really fun exercise. It’s hard to make time for hobbies now given my profession. Maybe that’ll be my retirement (laughs).

As a gamer, what are some of your favorite features of this game?

I love the strategy involved; I loved building a con, moving things around and just arranging the booths. I love the fact that you have to level up to unlock things, so I’ll be like “Yay, I get to build a fantasy booth now!” I love the fact that they added the aspect of an alien invasion—I think that’s super fun. And there are these super-fans who are in the game and, once you build them up, they have a lot of super-powers. And these aliens come in and try to destroy the con, and these super-fans fight the aliens. So, it’s a fun, interactive way to engage with what is essentially a simulation game. But it’s those little details that, as a gamer, I appreciate.

You mentioned doing voice-acting in this game as well as in the past. What has it been like to work in that world?

It’s great! I haven’t done a lot of video games lately; I’ve done “Con Man” and then I recently did a game called “Masquerada” which was really fun. But I haven’t done any big games in the last couple of years, so I’d love to dive back in there. I’ve done many, many cartoons over the last few years, though, and that was awesome. It’s such an interesting art form, though. I never really set out to do voice-acting; I got a lot of those first jobs because of who I am. Then, I saw the professionals that I worked beside and really admired their skills—and not only their skills of doing one voice but all the voices that they could do. It’s an area of growth that I’ve really enjoyed, and I’ve got a bunch of cartoon roles that are coming out next year, so I can’t wait for people to listen to those!

In addition to getting to play Evil Charlie in “Supernatural,” you also got to play a villainous character in “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” Was it fun for you to play an evil character?

You know, it was really, really fun. (laughs) I can’t say a lot about “Mystery Science Theater 3000” because it hasn’t been released yet. I will say that I had the best time and it was just fantastic. The highlight of it was being on the set with the amazing cast. Ultimately, I want to do more professional writing and get into a situation where I’m not only writing but writing on one of my favorite shows. So, it was definitely a pleasure.

If you could play one villain on any series of your choosing, who would it be and why?

(laughs) Oh gosh! I would love to be on the new “Star Trek” reboot and be whoever the enemy is. I’m not really sure what time frame we’re going for or where they’re going exactly, but my dream has always been to be on “Star Trek,” whether it’s a show or a movie.

I’m really hoping that, in the next movie or two, they will finally introduce the Borg because I want to see their take on it.

Me too! The Borg is one of my favorites as well. One of the first conventions that I did was with Alice, who played the Borg Queen, and she’s one of the sweetest people that you’ll ever meet and one of my favorite characters as well.

You’ve been streaming games on Twitch over the last few years. What are some of your favorite moments over that time?

I kind of saw Twitch as a side-project to sort of get back to my roots. I felt like all the production, and the business had gotten me away from what I really loved about doing things on the Web in the first place, which was knowing fans by name and hanging out with them as friends almost. So, when I started doing that, I just loved it so much. I loved seeing people on chat and that the moderators really took initiatives to create an environment that they wanted to be involved in, that didn’t have any hostility toward people and where people didn’t have to put up with the typical trolling that you see much more often on YouTube videos, which kind of beat me down over the previous years while I was making content for YouTube. So, being on Twitch was fantastic. There were so many funny things that we came up with, and it was a really tight community that reminded me why I got into web content in the first place. It’s nice to appeal to a vast audience but, for me, it was more about making a home for people, including myself.

As someone who is very in touch with pop culture and social media, how and where do you see the geek community evolving in the future?

I think that geek isn’t really much a niche anymore; it’s mainstream, and now it’s more specific about what kinds of things that you’re a fan of, whether it’s anime, role-playing games, shows, etc. I think the concept of “geek” as this sort of monolith is sort of antiquated. We’ve allowed a wealth of people to come in and find passions in the world of geekdom, and I’m excited to see that transformation. So, I think the future is more content and more creators/fans getting the chance to interact and create more content because there are more avenues to create it now. The more people who are passionate about supporting creators, the better.

In addition to being an actress, you’ve also branched into writing and producing. How have putting on those hats influenced you as an actress?

I think that it’s given me more of an idea of what it takes to make something and has helped me be less impatient if things are running late or if release dates get pushed back. And, just being more of a team player—I think that, once you’ve seen other peoples’ point-of-views, you can be more empathetic. I also believe that it’s very advantageous to get those experiences. I kind of love doing all of it, which is why my career probably doesn’t zoom forward down one path. Instead, I keep changing lanes, which makes me more excited about the things that I do.

You’ve been involved in two of my favorite shows, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Supernatural.” What are your favorite memories from working on those two shows?

I loved working with the people. The actors and actresses on both of those shows had such a family dynamic, and it really felt like we were part of a family. I think those are the best kinds of places that I’ve been privileged to work on. Just like going back to Twitch and trying to create a family there, I think those two shows are why I enjoy entertainment. My memories there are just very fond of everyone that I worked with, and I still have friends there, so they were both unforgettable experiences.

You also have another project coming out soon called “Stuck.” What can you tell me about that project?

That’s a project that I have a very small part in but one that a friend of mine, Jillian Armenante, directed. She did another project called “Kittens in a Cage” that I guest-starred in and that Misha Collins was in as well. I love the fact that she includes me in her creativity, although I don’t have a huge part. It’s just a cameo. But it’s a hilarious script. I’ve been doing lots of different projects this year—big roles and small roles—that I hope will be released next year.

 

Con Man: The Game is currently available for free through the iOS App Store and Google Play.

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