Dweeb Darlings is a “Production Company committed to supporting balance in the industry for female driven content and creators.” Its Founder, CEO and Executive Producer, Heidi Cox, and Marketing Manager/Co-Producer, Stephanie Pressman, will be literally flipping the script at LACC this weekend.
“Flip the Script: Supernatural” will be a “live reading of the season 5 finale of Supernatural with all gender roles, including references to God and even figures of speech, switched or as they say, flipped!” The panel, which will be followed by a Q&A, has been organized in cooperation with The Chimera Project (TCP), a non-profit “dedicated to empowering filmmakers who identify as female to fearlessly create, inspire and lead… (creating) change by demonstrating an inclusive model.” Chimera Project Co-President and Co-Founder America Young worked directly with Heidi Cox to put the panel together and will be one of the participants.
Since anything that contributes to closing the gender gap in entertainment media interests me, this panel stood out in the LACC schedule. Especially in the wake of the female-led Supernatural spinoff, Wayward Sisters, failing to materialize, I wanted to know more about this particular “Flip the Script.” Happily, Heidi and Stephanie agreed to fill me in.
Leona Laurie: Where did this idea originate, and how did you get involved?
Heidi Cox: The idea came to me when a contact of mine at LACC asked me if I would like to submit a panel for this year.
I had recently become an ambassador for The Chimaera Project, thanks to my friend America. During a meeting a few months ago, she and the other members discussed having held a “Flip the Script” event one other time. I loved the idea.
Since the very first one was her idea, I spoke with America and asked her if she thought this was something she’d be ok with me submitting, presented by The Chimaera Project. She was very supportive and gave me the go-ahead. I submitted it to my Con contacts that same day.
Stephanie Pressman: The Chimera Project has done similar readings of movie scripts, but not at a convention like this, so when Heidi was approached about a producing a new Dweeb Darlings panel, pairing up with America and TCP made a lot of sense – and they started looking into TV show scripts with a huge gender imbalance.
LL: Why Supernatural? Why this episode in particular?
HC: It’s a great show with so many interesting story lines. It has fun, geeky elements like sci-fi and fantasy.
We have a lot of respect for it, and several members of our cast are huge fans. Many of our friends have been guest stars. This particular episode is a favorite to so many fans. And we thought it had a great cast of characters! We want the reading to be fun as well as insightful!
SP: So many people involved are huge fans, and this episode was really important to the series.
HC: And it was actually America who suggested Supernatural, because the series regular cast is predominantly male. We thought, “What a great opportunity for us to share and discuss!”
LL: What’s your best-case scenario for doing this at LACC?
HC: We hope that we can help raise awareness for the opportunities to support more gender equality in all media arts. We would love if it sparked thoughtful discussion. And perhaps in the future, those of us who are there will notice the opportunities to diversify a little more and spread the word.
SP: The absolute best-case scenario would be for the showrunners, writers and cast and crew to be in attendance, or hear about it, and for it to bring about a discussion in the writing room and in casting decisions. But in a normal, non-fantasy world best-case scenario- for people who attend to leave thinking about it and for it to affect their consciousness while watching TV and films. For them to notice when things are extremely unbalanced and speak out about it.
LL: How did the cast come together?
SP: Heidi and America did the casting, and frankly I think they did an amazing job.
This is a must see if you’re at @comicconla This year! ::: #Repost @msheidicox with @get_repost ・・・ What better way to celebrate #WCW (tomorrow) but to announce the @chimaerafilms #FliptheScript #panel I will be moderating and participating in at @comicconla?! Look at the talented, intelligent women I am surrounded by here! Please come for and interesting perspective when we reverse the #gender roles while reading an episode followed by what we hope to be, a thought provoking discussion among fans (including us) about our opportunities for diversity within the #mediaarts! Thank you @joanna_ke for making this awesome graphic! #WomanCrushWednesday #WomeninFilm #Supernatural #LACC #LAComicCon #GenderFlip #rolereversal #stagedreading #tablereading #educational
HC: I did a small outreach to the women of TCP first. Those who were interested contacted me. I was also so grateful to have the help of America, Joanna Ke and Cheryl Bookout in casting some of these women. We wanted to diversify as much as possible as well.
In the beginning, I knew I wanted America, Joanna and Dove Meir involved. Joanna is another member of TCP and an avid fan of Supernatural. She was so great at communicating what roles we’d all be good for.
Since I was also moderating, I was happy to take on Chuck. I like the energy of that character, and his role in this episode is mostly voiceover.
America was an obvious choice for Dean. Besides being talented, she’s a multi-hyphenate and obvious activist for bringing this type of awareness to the forefront.
Joanna was so excited to play Sam. She was all-in on this the moment we told her about it and has been key to keeping the ball rolling.
I asked Stephanie if it was something she’d want to participate in, and she was excited to support it.
SP:I’m so lucky to be involved with so much talent!
HC: Andi Norris was one of the other TCP members who spoke up and was perfect as Lucifer. She is another one of our avid Supernatural fans.
Ashley Clements came highly recommended to us via America. She has that quick wit and humor that we thought would work well for Castiel.
Minerva Vier, who was brought to us through Cheryl, is wonderfully talented and reads Michael beautifully. I actually had chills during our rehearsal when she and Andi were reading!
Lili Bernard has had a strong media presence recently for speaking out for women and victims of sexual assault. She has been very brave. She’s an incredibly talented visual artist and veteran actress who has credits from Seinfeld to The Cosby Show. We are so honored to have her involved, and it is also thanks to Cheryl that she came to us.
Dove is a super talented actor, kind human, and activist for gender equality in media as well. He has been great to offer support and interesting perspectives. We love having him as Lisa.
I cannot say enough about these women (and Dove). Every last one of them is a powerhouse with so much going for them.
LL: So Dove is the only guy participating– does that really mean that there’s only one female role in “Swan Song”?
SP: Yes – Lisa is the only female character in this episode and isn’t a strong character. She has very minimal lines and is mostly just seen serving male characters.
HC: There are seven male roles in this episode, and the one female shows up in the last 5-10 minutes of the show.
What’s even more interesting is how many passes I had to take at the text before all the pronouns were reversed. It is so easy to miss them because of the way our brains our trained. What I mean is, we may call a group of people “you guys.” But if we call them “ladies” it often becomes an insult if there are men in that group. I find that fascinating. Even when we had our rehearsal, there were several missed pronouns. I am doing what must be my 20th pass on the script tonight to make sure it’s ready to go for the cast!
LL: How did you each get involved with The Chimera Project?
SP: We have worked with America before and are fans of TCP. America has represented TCP many times on our SPARK Your Creativity Panel at conventions. We recently became Ambassadors for the program, and this is our first joint project– but hopefully not the last.
HC: This is my first presentation as a member of TCP, and I am humbled have been given so much responsibility. It really is a team with these women, and we want to continue to light one another’s torches.
LL: Will there be video of this anywhere for folks who can’t make it in person?
HC: Yes! We will be doing a live stream that will also be able to be replayed as a video. I cannot say for certain, but I believe you will be able to see it on Facebook Live.
LL: If people love this idea and want more, where should they go/look after LACC?
SP: TCP also has a female filmmakers panel at LACC that’s a definitely a must attend!
LL: If people love YOU and want more, where should they go/look after LACC?
SP: You can find Dweeb Darlings on all social media @DweebDarlings, and we are in pre-production of a film based on our web series Stalking LeVar. You can find me personally at @StephPressman on social media, and I’m on several other panels and producing events at LACC. I can be seen performing Improv Comedy in the style of Harry Potter on the Main Stage at 2pm on Friday, modeling Star Wars-themed fashion on the Main Stage at 4pm Friday and discussing successful dating techniques on Sunday at 3:30pm in room 303A.
Catch “Flip the Script: Supernatural” at LACC this Saturday, October 27, in Room 304 ABC at the Los Angeles Convention Center.