Please “Recommend!”

If you’re willing, please follow this link to vote for an essay I wrote about how my love of  Star Wars inspired my passion for journalism. The piece is titled Never Tell me the Odds: Pursuing an Intergalactic Dream. 

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If my essay is in the “top 12″ most “read and recommended,” it will be considered by  panel of eight authors. The three essays that they select will be awarded a scholarship which goes towards college. My academics have always been important to me–I’ll graduate high school with an Associate’s Degree, and I hope to complete graduate school by 2018.

I’ve already asked several friends and family members people share and read this piece, and am trying to receive as many “recommends” as possible! All you have to do is follow the link, and when you read and get down to the bottom of the article, click the recommend button and sign in with Twitter–it’s that easy! If all my Twitter and blog followers clicked that recommend button, I’d most likely be in the lead.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that I’ll always be grateful for all of the support I’ve received over the years from the Star Wars community, and am blessed by all of the friends that I’ve made along the way.

MTFBWY…Always

How TV Influenced my Career Aspirations

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Television has become an important device in American households. From spending evenings watching a favorite comedy series to crowding your family into the living room to enjoy a movie together on a Saturday night, Television has been an influential aspect in many people’s lives.  A television set brings news, humor, action, drama, and adventure into a household, and people can learn about the latest political debate or be thrust into the latest sci-fi series all from the comforts of home. TV has also contributed to people’s careers, as many jobs are created through television through different TV series and the media.

Different television series impact people differently. While one person may be drawn to the competitiveness and awe of the talent displayed in shows like Dancing with the Stars, The X-Factor, and American Idol, another viewer may be drawn towards the action and adventure featured in shows like ArrowSupernatural, and Star-crossed. Season_5_clone_wars_logo

One television show that has inspired my academic career was the series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The series started when I was in middle school, and now that I’m a senior in high school I continue to watch it to this day. I watched the show from day one, and I remember racing home from getting ice cream at the beach with my friend, dashing into the living room, and sitting down on the couch to watch the series premiere. Now that I’m eighteen years old, nothing has changed. I still eagerly pull out my DVDs of The Clone Wars and enjoy watching the show with my family.

I was impacted by the show for more reasons than one. The primary reason was because it was Star Wars.  My family is comprised of sci-fi fans, and Star Wars has always brought my family together. The Clone Wars was unique because it was a show that aired on a children’s channel, yet it appealed to people of all ages. The series was phenomenal, and I was constantly interested in the writing, animation style, and the show’s score. I continued to be a regular viewer, and after watching the show for years I was able to meet a few of the voice actors from the series.

In 2012 at an event called Star Wars Weekends, I met Daniel Logan, Ashley Eckstein, and Dee Bradley Baker who are voice actors in the Clone Wars series. Baker shared his passion for voice acting, and answered a few of my questions about his role on the show. Eckstein talked with me about the company she was in the process of launching, which has evolved into a popular clothing line for female Star Wars fans. Daniel Logan played the character of Boba Fett, and appeared during the series finale of the second season. When I was talking to Daniel Logan at the event and asking him questions, he made a comment about how I had the traits of a journalist, which really set the ball rolling.

I’ve always loved to write. In elementary school I won a writer’s award in “recognition of outstanding performance in creative writing.” My love for writing has blossomed in the years that followed; the story I wrote about receiving a box full of yapping puppies in elementary was a springboard. After talking to Daniel Logan of Star Wars: The Clone Wars I continued to pursue my passion for writing with a personal blog, and started to look into the journalism field. When High school opened up the world of journalism, and now I write for Tb-Two* a student newspaper that’s published weekly by the Tampa Bay Times.

Since Star Wars Weekends in 2012, I’ve had the opportunity to write for a few different websites including Eckstein’s website HerUniverse.com, where I’ve been a contributor to her campaign Year of the Fangirl, and at www.starwarsunderworld.com, where I regularly write articles for the website.

Now, I’m starting college in the fall and am majoring in Communications, with the desire to pursue a graduate degree in Public Relations. I hope to intern at different newspaper offices in college, and after I graduate I want to continue writing for different websites and get a job at a newspaper. I also want to get involved with entertainment public relations, and eventually promote and represent a company that I can be passionate about representing.

TV and different television shows have a unique way of inspiring people, and I’m thankful that I found my niche through Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Dancing With the Stars, Everyone’s a Critic

Billy Dee Williams, known by Star Wars fans as the sultry Lando Calrissian of Cloud City, has tried his hand at just about everything creative. He can paint—some of his limited edition prints  are beings sold for $4,700. He can sing—his voice is nothing short of a crooner.

But apparently he can’t move his hips as swiftly as a 17 year old singing sensation on his latest venture, ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. For that, he’s received a lot of flack from the judges.

From Stormtroopers to cheering Ewoks strategically placed amongst the crowd, Williams brought Star Wars flare to his Cha Cha when Billy Dee dawned Lando’s signature blue and glided across the stage and dance floor.

Watch the routine in the video below:

The dance was set to recognizable Star Wars music (the part with the Cantina score is my personal favorite), Star Wars fans took to social media using the hashtag #TeamSlando to encourage Billy Dee as the judges, who were not as star-stuck, slammed his dance:

Carrie Ann: You’re definitely the most relaxed dancer I’ve ever seen. The hips are still going but we’re going to need a little more from you next week.

Excuse me…next week? With the show’s new voting procedure, ABC will know who will be eliminated every Tuesday when all of the votes are totaled, which means that one performer will dance every Monday but will have already been eliminated in the eyes of the show. Meaning, even if Billy Dee weighs in at a perfect 30 next Monday, he could already be off the show if last Monday’s score and votes didn’t keep him in the competition.

But don’t get me started on Bruno’s comments:

Bruno: Bill, may the Force be with you..I think you’ve got the wrong character. You played a very dainty, very careful C-3P0, you know what I mean? I want Darth Vader. Bigger, more powerful.

All of the Dancing With the Stars judges have a history with dance and are entitled to their professional opinion: Carrie Anne  danced with Jennifer Lopez and Madonna back in the ‘90s, Bruno is a praised choreographer, and Len is a professional dancer and dance teacher–but Einstein said it best when he said that “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Billy Dee received a score of 15 out of 30 from the judges. With votes from Star Wars diehards, we might be graced by Lando’s presence for a few more weeks, but  I’m frustrated with the show nonetheless. No, he can not dance as well as actress Candace Cameron or an Olympic Gold Medalist, but do not judge 76 year old Billy Dee Williams, who has had two hip replacements, on his ability to Cha Cha by the same standards of the 17 year old “Pretty Brown Eyes” singer Cody Simpson’s take on the dance.

Finally, judge Len spoke some truth: “Well Billy you were on time, you didn’t forget your routine, it was entertaining…two hip replacements, you’re 77, you did a good job.”

ABC: If you know he’s not going to be a “good dancer” by your standards, why even cast someone like Billy Dee Williams on the show? I believe ABC needs to STOP casting people who they KNOW are going to get low scores solely for the purpose of ratings. This is a dance competition for pete’s sake.

If Dancing with the Stars wants fast-paced, hip swaying, leggy action, the show needs to cast talent for just that—talent, not for ratings. The show may have cast Billy Dee because they knew that ratings would go up as Star Wars fans flocked to support the actor. But by that same logic, the ratings will plummet when he is voted off. I’m watching for Billy Dee, not for sexy hip swaying.

“You played a very dainty, very careful C-3P0.” UghHe’s in his 70′s, Bruno. Excuse me, but were you Lando Calrissian, the suave gambler, savvy entrepreneur, and sultry smuggler who made women go weak in the knees simply by smiling? No. So take that Bruno and Carrie Ann, and please judge Billy Dee, and all of the other 70 year old actors, musicians, therapists, etc. you’ll invite onto your show, accordingly.

The only consolation I have with the judge’s criticism that Billy Dee had to agree to be on the show, and he genuinely looks like he’s having fun with his dance partner Emma. During Monday’s dance routine, Billy Dee Williams flashed a killer smile, and demonstrated an even better attitude in the face of adversity—that’s worthy competition in my eyes, if given a fair chance.

Fashion Show and Design Contest from Her Universe

568Interested in fashion and design?

Her Universe is bringing the first ever full-scale “geek couture” fashion show to San Diego Comic Con 2014. Cosplay has always been celebrated as an art, but now fans can enter the Her Universe fashion show and design competition to turn a cosplay idea for a character into an everyday fashion piece.

“I’ve watched you use the halls of SDCC as your runway for the past four years,” writes Ashley Eckstein, voice actress and founder of Her Universe. “It’s time that we give you an actual runway to showcase your talent.”

Michael Rego, Chief Executive Officer of the Araca Group and Her Universe partner added that “It’s an honor to partner with San Diego Comic-Con International on this ground breaking event. Together, we are excited to shine the spotlight on female fans and fashion.”

What does Ashley mean by “geek couture?” It means incorporating geek with chic, bringing fashion to the comic con world. See an example sketch of an Ahsoka Tano design below:

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The entries will be narrowed down to up to 30 designs to participate in The Her Universe Fashion Show. A panel from Her Universe, led by Ashley Eckstein, will be selecting up to 30 designers from those designs submitted. The 30 finalists will participate in The Her Universe Fashion Show at San Diego Comic-Con 2014.

According to Her Universe, these are important things to consider before entering:

1. All submissions must be “Geek Couture” fashion, not a costume, and can be based on anything that is celebrated at Comic-Con (see illustrations above for samples of Geek Couture).

2. One submission form/entry per person. You can include up to three separate designs on your submission form, but only one design may be chosen. Your design must be your original work.

3. Male and female designers are welcome to submit designs, but submissions must be for female fashion only.

4. Entries must be received by April 4th, 2014. Late entries will not be considered. All submissions are final.

5. Finalists will be announced individually via e-mail no later than April 18th, 2014.

6. All finalists will need to provide their own styling, makeup, hair design and model at their own expense.

7. All finalists must provide their own travel to and from, and accommodations, in San Diego. Her Universe is not responsible for any travel or accommodation expenses.

8. The date of The Her Universe Fashion Show at SDCC is July 24th, 2014 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, CA. You must be able to have your designs exhibited at the Fashion Show to be eligible.

Entries must be received by April 4th, 2014. Late entries will not be considered. All submissions are final. Find the the complete rules, entry form, and more example sketches and designs from Transformers, Star Trek, and Marvel, visit Her Universe‘s Fashion Show Design Competition page here.

A Thank You From Dave Filoni

The Clone Wars crew has always been involved with the fans, but the post that went up today on StarWars.com from Director Dave Filoni really warmed my heart. In addition to never before seen concept art, Filoni included these endearing words:

“I guess my intention here is to encourage you all to dream, to imagine, not just what these stories might have been, but what the possibilities are for other new stories which have never been told before. And maybe the person who tells those stories will be you.”

Those words form Filoni hit home because, as the Director has stated before, he was a diehard Star Wars fan long before he was recruited at Lucasfilm.

His post reminded me that, while The Clone Wars may be ending, Rebels, Episode VII, and so many other projects are in the works and are just beginning. Dave Filoni’s words are inspiring because they were a reminder that Star Wars stories are told by the fans. With that being said, who knows what opportunities are in store for fans like you or I to explore these untold stories to get involved in writing the next chapter of our Star Wars.

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