Her Universe: What Women Want in Their Female Sci-Fi Heroes— In the early days of sci-fi, female characters were the designated damsels in distress. Thankfully, today a new generation of creative minds are molding the strong, intelligent, and powerful female roles we see in some sci-fi films, TV shows, comics and other media. What are the differences between past sci-fi adventures with female characters and today's feminine heroes that women can really connect with? How do you create truly interesting and unique female characters in the sci-fi universe? How are they different from their male counterparts?
Moderated by Ashley Eckstein (voice of Ahsoka Tano, Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Dave Filoni (supervising director, Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Chris Sanagustin (SVP development and current programming for Universal Cable Productions)
Bryan Q. Miller (executive story editor, Smallville; writer, DC's Batgirl)
Betsy Mitchell (editor-in-chief, Del Rey Books)
Melinda Hsu Taylor (writer/producer, Lost, Medium; supervising producer, Touch)
Gail Simone (writer, DC's Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Wonder Woman, and the new Batgirl comic)
Allison Scagliotti (actress on Syfy's Warehouse 13)
Chris Sanagustin shared her recent experiences with Battlestar Galactica Blood and Chrome, "It's really awesome", she said. There's a new character, an admiral, there's "stuff blowing up." She was discussing the show with a co-worker, "Have you ever thought about making the admiral a woman?" Battlestar Galactica had no gender politics, the commander was a woman. "I'm a huge BSG fan" Ashley said," and "Katee Sackoff is just amazing."
Bryan Q. Miller talked about character development, "Starbuck is flawed but vulnerable, and she drinks a lot...If you can find ways in those characters to give that person a vulnerability, it is something not expected in a character and it gives some texture as you are following that character, no matter what venture they're on." "Happy flaws" he called them.
Betsy Mitchell, "We're in a golden age of women reading sci-fi and fantasy, reading more now than in my life time...Tied directly to the fact that 30 years ago there weren't that many women writers...Female editors have also been a huge influence on bringing in more female writers."
She also noted that Buffy the Vampire Slayer kicked off that whole Urban paranormal drama, which was a huge contributor to publishing in the last several years.
Gail Simone discussed how we now have strong female comics and podcasters and the comic industry was slow to admit that there were women in comics. "When you're creating a female character it needs to be a well-rounded character. They need to have their own motivations, they need to exist for more than just the male characters -- more than just a girlfriend, more than just being stuffed in a refridgerator...The world is not like it was in the 1930's..." Amen to that!!!
Ashley asked Melinda about her favorite female characters. Melinda loves the characters Starbuck, Ripley and is a huge Game of Thrones fan and loves Eowyn from Lord of The Rings.
Dave Filoni was next as Ashley asked him, "Take us through your process of creating new female character."
"It never occurs to me that they're female," Dave said. "Ashoka was just a Jedi, that was the most important thing, she's a Jedi in training. Girls on the crew are quite exceptional, the production team I've also learned a lot from them. Luminara, the Jedi Knight, is incredibly wise, and some are quite attractive. They all have the same problems, they're fighting war. My wife is also a great springboard for any ideas I have."
"I think I've done right by your character," Dave said to Ashley. " It's the same amount of thought I've given Anakin, it's not that different."
Ashley then asked Allison Scagliotti to explain her process in making her character Claudia come to life? "I lucked out with this role, a role like this is really hard to come by at my age. This is a serious industry we're in and I've lost roles based on my bra size." "Me too," Ashley added." Allison then went on to discuss the "Useless hot girl roles" - very two-dimensional. What a great term for those roles!!
There's a responsibility of maintaining integrity of the role," Claudia said. "Honesty, be honest with myself, never lie to the character and never lie to the audience...The thing that makes a character relatable is how realistic they are."
Ashley said Claudia has "proved how cool it is to be the smartest girl in the room."
Ashley then opened up the floor to Q+As where people asked the panel some great thought-provoking questions.
Even though it was at the end of a very long day, this panel was fantastic about exploring the history of female characters and discussing what's needed in the future to keep making female characters just as complex!
A special callout to the AWESOME Ashley Eckstein for organizing this panel with a great crew of panelists!! So well done and I look forward to more empowering discussions like this!!