A Tulsa-based organization is looking to make its mark on the convention scene, and it's bringing in some heavy-hitters.
Conventions are where fans can showcase their love of pop culture in a variety of ways – art, cosplay, gaming – and they get the opportunity to meet some celebrities as well.
One big name coming to the Tulsa Pop Culture Expo is Summer Glau, best known as River Tam in the 2002 series Firefly and the 2005 movie Serenity.
Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, didn’t even last a full season but has reached cult status and still has a huge reach among fans, something Glau doesn’t take for granted.
“I still can’t believe the reaches that this show has. Now, when I go to events, I’m having kids come up to me and saying, ‘My dad was a huge fan of Firefly and he didn’t let me watch it until I was a teen and now I love it more than he does.’ And it’s like, ‘Wow, this show was only on for, not even a full season, and yet people love it this much,’” she said.
Firefly was set in 2517 and followed nine characters and their adventures on a spaceship called Serenity. It starred veteran actors Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin and more. For Glau, it was her first major role as an actor after having spent much of her early years training as a dancer until an injury sent her down a different path. Glau said the environment was completely new to her, but the seasoned actors taught her a lot.
“I was constantly doing kooky things and making mistakes,” she said.
She recalled not knowing how to read a call sheet and just showing up on set when she wasn’t required to be there, looking at her fellow castmates and copying them at table reads and even giving it her all during a rehearsal for her first major scene.
“During the pilot of Firefly, I had my big scene where I jump out of the cryo-box, naked…I had a long time to worry about it and fret about it,” she said. “I remember the morning I was called to the sound stage to do a rehearsal and I was on pins and needles…everybody was just getting their breakfast…and was ready to run through the lines, and I came out of the gate like it was my Oscar performance.”
She said it was a great learning experience being a new actor and said “everyone just kind of dragged me along like a little sister. Like I was part of the family no matter how crazy I was.”
The show was canceled only three months after it debuted but garnered a loyal fanbase and a spinoff movie was released in 2005, which is how Glau says most people found the series.
“I certainly never could have envisioned that our fanbase would have resurrected it and turned it into a film. And most people who know Firefly now saw the film first and then went and watched the series,” she said.
Glau knows this because she has the opportunity to talk with her fans, and connect with them, and one of the questions she gets asked the most is if there will be a revival, to which she says “nothing that this show does surprises me. There’s no telling what will happen next.”
The Texas native is making her first trip to Tulsa for the Tulsa Pop Culture Expo November 2-4. She said she’s really excited to come to the city and connect with the fans.
“It’s a privilege,” Glau said of coming to the conventions. “I feel a connection with them, and I think that they feel a connection with me. Even from the very beginning of my career, it’s sort of like how I felt in my Firefly family, even when I was a newcomer and had no business being there, they loved me and supported me, and I’ve always felt that way with the fans as well,” she said.
In addition to Glau, Karen Gillan (Doctor Who, Guardians of the Galaxy, Jumanji) will be at the expo along with Sean Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Gilmore Girls), John Schneider (Dukes of Hazzard), C. Thomas Howell (The Outsiders), and more.
You can find more details as far as guests, attractions and ticket information on the Tulsa Pop Culture Expo website.