Kim Horcher is the host of Nerd Alert on The Young Turks Network and a pretty awesome geek lady. Check out what she has to say about women supporting each other in the genre, the harassment that has been at the forefront of the geek world lately and getting started in the business.
Legion of Leia: How did you get into hosting and how did you end up doing Nerd Alert?
Kim Horcher: My original career goals were in local news, starting in college. Between Los Angeles and Orange County I’ve at one time or another been an anchor, a reporter, a writer, a producer, and an assignment desk assistant. I was comfortable with the work, but the longer I stayed the more I realized I didn’t have the passion for local news– maybe I’d lost it, maybe I never truly had it. It was just…fine, doable, I suppose. That’s when I embarked on one of the most risky endeavors of my life– attempting to do something I was actually passionate about AND getting paid for it. I worked part-time in news while I applied pretty feverishly to hosting notices and I ended up taking many odd jobs to pay the bills. I’ve been an SAT tutor, an online community moderator, a copywriter– there was even a time when it looked like I’d be a “princess” in a certain famous Orange County theme park. After plenty of rejections and opportunities that didn’t pan out, I saw an ad for a talk show at The Young Turks. I didn’t know a ton about the company, but had seen a lot of the videos and I really respected their honesty and frankness. So I applied, met with two guys, and was sure I’d never be asked back again. But then I was called in to shoot the pilot episodes for The Common Room, I was asked to filled in a few times as co-host on TYT University, and then I got a spin-off solo segment there. I pitched my segment as its own channel, volunteered my expertise in news producing for the web, and now, here I am. It’s been a long, very unlikely journey and there were many instances in which it all could have failed, but I’m here now helming my own channel filled with the things I love and care about.
Legion of Leia: What got you into geek culture? Who was the first sci-fi or fantasy character you connected with? What’s the geekiest thing you own?
Kim Horcher: What got me in was probably what got a lot of people in– I was a picked-on, kind of lonely kid and I spent a lot of time at home with the babysitter. I wore glasses, and didn’t really know how to dress or fix my hair, so I was a fairly easy target, I suppose. My vast stores of shyness and sarcasm probably didn’t help either. I read a lot and watched probably too many cartoons– my childhood was made of classic DCAU (DC Animated Universe) like Batman: The Animated Series, The Adventures of Batman and Robin, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Batman Beyond, and probably some other cartoons that didn’t feature Bruce Wayne. Harley Quinn was a favorite right away and I was elated to see her become a canon DC Comics character later on. But my best connection has to be with the X-Men, particularly Kitty Pryde and Rogue; I could relate to feeling like an outcast, but still wanting to fight for a better world, for acceptance and empathy. I still can.
The geekiest thing I own is a tie between Luna Lovegood’s wand, a non-working portal gun, a working katana, a hand-drawn picture of Bender from Matt Groening, and the [heavy] first editions of every Playstation console, I-IV.
Legion of Leia: There has been a lot of focus on women in the geek community and the backlash they get. You and I talked about the Spider-Woman cover on Nerd Alert, and some of the comments were pretty negative. Why do you think this is happening? What can we do about it? How do you handle it?
Kim Horcher: We should all be allowed to disagree with things that bother us, but there is of course a small minority that believes talking through extremes will make an opinion more valid. It can be extremely frustrating to express a desire to be treated with the same basic dignity and respect every human being should be afforded and get dismissed with vitriolic, demeaning, and confrontational arguments. I can’t say how discouraging it is to be misunderstood, or perhaps, to face a total lack of human empathy.
But I have hope. It can be hard to keep a positive attitude, but I think that’s what we need to remember most. The world always progresses forward; we as human beings in an advancing society will not devolve back to the levels of institutionalized racism, sexism, and bigotry we see in history books. It will not be easy, but we have to believe we can be better, and we all have to be better in our own rights and stand up for the ideals we believe in. I know I sound like a Superman monologue, but it’s never easier to do the right thing. It’s an incredibly rewarding time to be a geek; we live in an awe-inspiring world and we too are capable of so much. Trying to make things better is always worth the sting, and so many people are doing it, bit by bit. I’m very optimistic for the future.
Legion of Leia: What does it mean to be a part of this community of women and how can we better support each other?
Kim Horcher: There’s this stereotype that women “in the business” are out to cut each others’ throats to get ahead. I have no idea what this is about, fortunately, because I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and collaborating with supportive, incredibly talented women and many brilliant, progressive men who I’m also very proud to call my friends and colleagues. Perhaps it’s our community of sci-fi-loving, highly introspective nerds itself that is able to defy expectations and norms? I think that’s a strong possibility!
On a personal note, when I was growing up, I was frequently the butt of cruel pranks and rumors at the hands of a particular group of mean girls from elementary through high school. They tried to make me miserable, and I think they were miserable inside too though I don’t feel this is an excuse for viciousness. I neither want to encourage that energy nor be any part of it. I don’t have time for that– I’m applying myself to better, infinitely more worthwhile endeavors. Emboldening each other and fostering the very acceptance and positivity we strive for is an obvious step.
Legion of Leia: What new projects do you have coming up? Plug away!
Kim Horcher: I’m pretty busy with Nerd Alert and The Young Turks network. On top of hosting, I’m the executive producer; I plan the stories, publish, and write everything from what I say on camera to the descriptions in the videos. It takes up a huge portion of my week, but I love it dearly. I’ll also be the lead host for The Walking Dead review and discussion show on What the Flick come October, and there are a few other projects that aren’t actually solid enough for me to talk about right now (sorry!). Of course, there is always the possibility I will be inspired to do even more! That’s the most wonderful thing about my job– ambition and passion are always worthy endeavors. Every day, I’m grateful that I get to be a part of this community.