The second in an occasional series of stories about Star Wars stuff.
This piece began with a tweet:
Welcome to the world of @glittergeekali!
Ali Slate, Grad Student & Content Producer, Western, VA
Media maker Ali Slate was kind enough to take the time for a short Q & A about her collection of Star Wars stuff, and how it reflects her fandom. Each of the question inspired by a particular piece in her vast and varied collection. Asked for a short bio, she wrote: “26-years-old, living in Western Virginia, and am headed to grad school in the fall for journalism. I have a YouTube channel where I talk Star Wars and all things geek, and I tweet… a lot.”
What are your first Saga memories? What item can be attached to those formative years? The figures?
Many, many, many of us introduced to the saga first via the figures. I grew up in a family of pop culture junkies and collectors, and my Nana, without any interest in the movies, had collected the figures because my dad was such a Star Wars fan. And I don’t think he has a count of how many times he saw Star Wars in theaters the summer of 1977 because he saw it so many times. I didn’t get the yellow-sabered Luke until much later – just a few months ago, in fact, when a friend gifted him to me. It’s displayed at my apartment, though, while most of this is at my parents’ home in storage containers.
Why Star Wars?
I grew up in a super small place in far Southwestern Virginia, and I very clearly did not fit in. Though my dad was from there, my mom was not, and any trace of you being some outsider, even if you had been raised there (as I was), was a reason to be shunned. Since all we had in town was a three-screen movie theater, I saw everything that came out that was appropriate for me to see, and I always, like my father, gravitated toward fantasy and sci-fi. I think that Star Wars stuck because it was a place where different people were celebrated yet at the same time treated like everyone else, and there was nothing there to remind me of my current situation.
School was really tough for me with bullies and whatnot, so I was always excited to get home and just play by myself where no one could judge me. My single-child status is probably why my parents kept everything, too. My parents were pretty progressive in their parenting style (given that I grew up in the Bible Belt), and never set gender-norm rules for me. There was nothing wrong with wanting to play princesses and then jump to pretending to be Luke in an X-Wing, taking down the Death Star. In college, at the University of Virginia, I no longer had to hide my geekiness because everyone that goes to UVa is a geek in some way or another. That was refreshing for me.
The Phantom Menace seems to have a high place in your fandom: Why? Is Padme your favorite character?
Oddly enough, when I go back and watch the movies now, TPM is very low on my list in how I rank the movies, but I think that like most people from my generation, the prequels play a large part in my fandom because they came out when I was a kid. I was seven when Episode I came to theaters. I’d played with the Kenner figures when I was younger, and my dad had shown me the original trilogy, but I think that I was too young to appreciate the beats in the story when I first introduced to the franchise at age four/five.
I’m very much a girly-girl, and I think that inherently, like most little girls at the time, I gravitated toward Padme. I was a big Disney Princess fan, and I saw Padme in all of these fabulous dresses and headpieces, and of course, she became my favorite. I wanted everything Padme-related, but, luckily for my parents, there weren’t a plethora of Padme things. There were a few dolls, some t-shirts, and a few other items, so they lucked out in terms of that.
Tell us about your GameBoy.
I can’t remember when I got my GameBoy Color, but I remember getting the Pod Racing game for Christmas in 1999. A childhood friend of mine, and still a friend today, Jeremy, and I sat at the Virginia State Wrestling Tournament in Salem, VA in 2000, and connected our GameBoys via cables to play against each other. I couldn’t win a race by myself, let alone against Jeremy, but I was never upset over it. I was happy to have someone to play and talk Star Wars with…
You said you collect more current items: What are your favorites? Why?
At some point, all of the items that we had were current. I would like to have children one day, and I know how those Kenner figures impacted me, especially once the prequel trilogy was coming out. It was like I had some piece of the puzzle that no one else had.
That’s why I buy the current stuff now – my future kids will have all of this Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo stuff when those characters have children of their own that take over the story…. [Funko Pop figures] are some of my favorite things to collect. I also collect theatrical-release, 27 x 40, double-sided posters; one from each of the Disney-Star Wars movies… and I try to get more obscure ones if I can. I got a lot of art at Celebration 2017, too. My dad also painted me an original Darth Vader portrait (above).
So, I now collect art and figures. I don’t think my embarrassingly large t-shirt collection gets to count. I can’t not mention the fact that I have a few of the Star Wars Dooney & Bourke bags, too!
Tell us about your Star Wall – perfect placement included.
My mom is an interior decorator, so when I moved into the apartment I’m in now, she decided that all of my Star Wars stuff needed to be displayed in a “just so” way. I thought that she was going to try all of my Star Wars stuff in some obscure part of my apartment (again, you let your mom decorate when she’s a professional), but nope… she displayed it in a better way than I could have ever imagined. It looks amazing. I use it as my background in many of my YouTube videos.
I call that hallway “the test of men” because you have to walk through it to get into the rest of my apartment. That’s the first thing you see when you walk in, and if a guy doesn’t run away at the revelation of my extreme geekiness, he has passed my test, thus, my nickname for it, “the test of men.”
I’ve got my Funkos, some art, and my signed copy of Thrawn up there. And porgs. Can’t forget about those little guys.
Describe your Star Wars library…
I was a big reader when I was a kid, so my parents and grandparents bought me a lot of books. Looking back, we all should have somehow known that I’d end up trying to work in some behind-the-scenes aspect in film-making, because my favorite books I had from back then were this behind-the-scenes books, my favorite being one from Episode I. I enjoyed seeing all the pictures of Mr. Lucas talk to the actors, and reading about how he got the script together. Here I am now, going off to grad school for journalism in the fall so that I can work in publicity and the fan space in some capacity.
I still buy those kinds of books – The Art Of series, Star Wars: Year By Year, the Visual Dictionaries, but I’d also say that I probably have half of the new canon novels in my library; adore Claudia Gray. I like the Legends stuff, too, though, notably The Thrawn Trilogy. I had the opportunity to interview Timothy Zahn at a ticketed event at our local con, Rob-Con, in Bristol, Tennessee last year. The highlight of that for me was when I told him that Thrawn was a classy character, and he apparently really liked my description! I had him sign copies of The Thrawn Trilogy for the guys at “Collider Jedi Council” since I credit them for being the ones to re-invigorate my love for the franchise, and inherently, helped me find out what it was that I wanted to do with my life.
Do you have any comics?
Like I said earlier, I grew up in a town of 1,000 people, and the closest comic book store was two hours away, but I got – and still have – one of the Dark Horse comics from the Revenge of the Sith era. I have bought some of the old comics from the original Marvel run and framed them; the covers were so colorful, and that style of drawing isn’t popular for covers anymore. I’ve bought quite a few Star Wars comics from the sequel era, though. I tried that Poe Dameron series for a year before I gave up, and I really liked the Obi-Wan and Anakin run.
What haven’t I asked that I should have?
How about: How has Star Wars affected your future?
It’s no secret that I want to work for Lucasfilm one day; I know the canon and Legends lore better than most. And as someone that credits Star Wars for bringing me out of some very dark places in my life from childhood all the way to just a few years ago, I want to be able to give back to that in some way and make some other kid’s day a little brighter; I want them to know that they can do it, too.
I’m a scruffy nerf-herder from coal country, the Appalachian Mountains – if I can do it, anyone can! I firmly believe that all of us Star Wars fans have to thank everyone that has ever worked at Lucasfilm in any capacity for what we have today. Their work led to what is coming out now, and for that, I’m eternally grateful. I’m going to grad school for journalism in the fall, with the goal of working in entertainment social media and publicity. I write, too, and I’d love to write a canon novel someday.
I don’t call these dreams… they’re goals!
Thanks to Ali for letting us delve into her Star Wars stuff. Be sure to check out her YouTube channel GlitterGeekTV. JB