Saturday, September 27, 2008
I like strong women characters and don't think there are enough of them on TV or in the movies. My favorite was Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in The Avengers. Ah, yes, Mrs. Peel was a phenom in the '60s - smart, witty, and lethal in leather. The unresolved sexual tension between her and John Steed played well. After Diana left the series, it just wasn't the same.
Who would have thought that forty years later I'd find someone to take her place? For Pete's sake, I'm now a grandmother and here I am in the throes of hero worship.
I was never really into science fiction all that much but, several years ago, I came upon a cable show, Stargate SG1, which caught my attention. The show's heroes were an unlikely band of characters. Jack O'Neill, portrayed by Richard Dean Anderson, was the only actor I recognized. Think of MacGyver as an Air Force officer in a top-secret command post hidden away in Cheyenne Mountain. His 2IC (“second-in-command”, believe me, I know the lingo) was a brilliant captain and astrophysicist, Samantha Carter. She intrigued me from the start because of the honesty with which the actor, Amanda Tapping, played the role. This was not Stargate Barbie but a fully-realized woman who could hold her own in the world of men. I kept tuning in based on my affinity for strong female role models.
Soon I started joining online websites and discussion groups. Contrary to what people may think is the typical sci-fi demographic (adolescent boys), I found a community of adult men and women who came from all walks of life and from all parts of the globe. Friendships were formed through private messages and emails. As we got to know each other better, we also got to know more about Amanda Tapping.
The more I knew, the more I liked her. She's from Canada, not too well known in the states; is a remarkably humble person who seems totally surprised (and touched) by her fans' devotion. That's what makes her so easy to admire. She's just so darn nice! She also reminds me a lot of Jenn: bright, spunky, engagingly funny - not above poking some of her irreverent humor at herself. When you meet her, she pays complete attention to you even if you're in a roomful of people.
I had the good fortune to share tea and two cocktail parties with her. What you see is what you get. No pretense, very down-to-earth. The real thing. How refreshing to meet someone like that in this Paris-Hilton world.
It's been fun to watch her grow professionally, now branching out as an executive producer and star of a new SciFi gothic-horror show, Sanctuary, which premieres in another week. She had to dye her hair for the new role and was really worried that her little three-year-old would not know her. All ended well though. How do I know these things? Because I've traveled to London three times for special Amanda Tapping weekends where almost 300 Amanda fans convene, hang out, and get to mix and mingle with their favorite actor. She does Q&As, a charity auction, patiently takes individual photos with everyone and then does autograph sessions. It's a fairly exhausting weekend but, for Amanda, it seems to be a labor of love. We applaud her; she returns to Vancouver with new energy. The folks who run the event make it seem like a family reunion and actually remember the fans each year. I've gotten so into it that this past year I actually helped out as a steward.
The kindness that Amanda extends to her fans has a ripple effect. I could never have traveled to London the past two times except for the generosity of a fellow fan who has paid for my trips! This woman lives on the west coast and we have never met in person. We have become close friends and she hates to fly so she sends me in her place. How bloomin' beautiful is that? It's typical though of the fan network. I now have friends in England, Scotland, Netherlands, France, Australia, Canada and the USA because of our mutual admiration of an actor who is a wonderfully warm and caring individual.
I hope Amanda’s new show does well. She deserves every success.
Oh, did I mention the fanfic? Yes, not only did I make new friends but I’ve become a sci-fi author of Stargate fiction. That's a story for another day.