Talking gaming, her memoir and online bullies, with "Queen of the Geeks" Felicia Day
Felicia Day is a boss. Indeed depending on who you’re talking to she might even be called a Queen. Day is known by many as the “Queen of the Geeks” (a title she personally rejects, but accepts the compliment when others use it). She’s also an actress, a business woman, a comedian, an entrepreneur, a writer, a gamer and we love, love, love her. She took time out of her rad life to chat with us at HelloGiggles about her new book — and, of course, her life advice.
If you’re a Buffy The Vampire Slayer fan, you’ll recognize her as Vi from the last season, or maybe you know her from Eureka, The Supernatural, or Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Or maybe you asked for her autograph at Comic-Con thinking she was Emily Blunt (it’s totally happened). Whatever you recognize her from, you may not know that Felicia is also a super-successful entrepreneur — she’s the founder and CCO of Geek & Sundry a web content company with more than 1.4 million YouTube subscribers, and now the author of the memoir You’re Never Weird on The Internet (Almost) . . . which I could not recommend more to anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider.
Her book is a really fun read, written in the same warm engaging voice Felicia has on camera — a voice that almost makes you feel like you are reading a diary. The memoir is also an homage to her addiction to Photoshop, and is sprinkled throughout with pictures and inspirational graphics.
Much of Felicia’s book is about her ascent to success — her rise from internet star to Hollywood star, not to mention her dedication to gaming and her focus on writing. Felicia knew her passions, she pursued them, and she created her own success. Sick of being questioned as a writer about what she was writing about or if she was actually writing it, she started writing and producing her own videos, filming them in her garage with a borrowed camera. This later lead to her creating and starring in her own web series The Guild.
What you leave the book understanding is that this is a woman afraid of nothing, willing to try anything, and ready to take on the world — and generously share her experiences and advice along the way.
Felicia’s fearlessness may be accredited to her home school upbringing. Without the peer pressure from fellow classmates, Felicia was never bullied for what she liked and was able to follow her passions purely. “I wasn’t told as a kid that girls don’t game or don’t like fantasy novels or mathematics — it’s definitely the unconscious bias that we grow up with as women steers us in directions that we don’t even know we’re being steered . . . I never grew up with the idea that girls don’t do this, or girls aren’t good at that. There was never that barrier set in front of me,” Felicia explained in a phone interview with HelloGiggles.
It’s this barrier free mindset that let’s Felicia flourish in so many worlds, including the predominately male geek and gaming culture, an arena now famous for last year’s Gamergate controversy in which many female gamers were harassed mercilessly. Felicia, for her part, encourages female gamers to stay strong and support one another.
Felicia said she meets many young women and girls looking for advice on how to deal with this sexism. In one anecdote she shared, Felicia spoke about a young girl at a panel that asked Felicia what she should do about kids in her class telling her that she shouldn’t like the games that she likes. Felicia knew exactly what to say, “I told her you just have to be brave. You have to know it’s not going to be easy and you will be questioned, but know that the stronger you are in the things that you love, the easier it’s going to be for a girl who is younger than you to say the things she loves and not be pushed back again. Be as weird as you want, because that’s really your super power in life.”
She also, of course, encourages women to band together. “There’s a lot of resistance among women to support each other. Because there’s this idea that if I succeed as a women there’s not enough room for more women. The more that you can bond with other people who have the common thread whether it’s gender or otherness is better, because you’re stronger in a community versus the world.”
In her own career, Felicia has had to overcome a lot of bullying and industry sexism (which is part of the reason she became her own boss and began making her own work). “I practically invented the whole ‘cute but offbeat hacker girl’ trope on television,” explains Felicia in her book. She realized that in Hollywood it’s not just hard work that gets you ahead, “unfortunately it’s a lot more based on luck and how people see you and your look and how people categorize you especially early on . . . No matter who you see on billboards or in movies nobody has an easy path and it takes a lot of knowing yourself, reevaluating yourself and going on even if people tell you it’s not possible.”
The other reality the book hits on is the fact that no matter how weird you are, there is totally someone online (and IRL!) who likes the same things as you. Also, if you’re a person who is creating content to be consumed online, make that content for the people who like it (they exist!) and ignore the haters. “I know there’s a lot of negativity and bullying and shaming and dog piling on the Internet. Which shouldn’t get in the way of creating and reaching an audience or just being yourself,” Felicia said.
In real life, it’s the internet world Felicia has created that often makes her feel less awkward. “When the occasional stranger approaches me at a party to say, ‘Hey, you’re Felicia Day. Let’s talk about that comic book you were tweeting about last week!’ It’s the greatest thing in the world because it saves me from having to stand in the corner awkwardly, drinking all the Sprite and then leaving after 10 minutes without saying goodbye to the host,” writes Felicia in her book.
“What I would love for people to take away from this book is to embrace your weirdness and you’ll get a clearer vision of how you want your life. And the wonderful thing is the internet is a place to open doors for you. You can connect with people who are like you so you don’t feel like an outsider,” she said, all the while preaching the importance of individuality.
“You always are going to try to be pushed into the norm and fall into line with the majority. But the majority doesn’t stick out. It’s the people who are outliers who have big, uncommon ideas. Those are the people who change the world.”
Be sure to pick up a copy of Felicia’s book You’re Never Weird on The Internet (Almost) for more of her wisdom.
[Image via Amazon, The WB]