San Diego Comic Con 2014: A Reflective Essay

San Diego Comic Con: A Reflective Essay

Monday, July 28, 2014

By Satu Runa

This is my 3rd year attending the San Diego Comic Convention, and my first time as a guest panelist.  The panel, “Taming the Web: The Nuts and Bolts of Web Series Creation” was an incredible success- speaking to a full house of 400-450 people, all curious of how to make it on the web and/or use crowd-funding to create your project.  I played a secret clip from my project, Queen Gorya, which was greeted with a round of laughter.  It felt great to talk about the work and inspire people to DIY their own project.  I hope to be a regular panelist in the years to come! 

"Taming the Web: The Nuts and Bolts of Web Series Creation" panel at San Diego Comic Con, 2014

“Taming the Web: The Nuts and Bolts of Web Series Creation” panel at San Diego Comic Con, 2014

Wednesday, preview night of SDCC, was epic. You could feel the buzz of electricity and madness as you walked closer to the convention center on Harbor Drive.   It was a pleasantly unruffled crowd, full of hope and excitement. Spring (robot) chickens just perusing the aisles at their leisure. Preview night is truly is the best time to attend. I was lucky enough to stay for all 5 days and it was worth it. The #1 reason I go to the con: for the cosplay. I love seeing everyone’s creativity with crossing characters and wardrobe skills at their very best. It’s even better when someone is a dead ringer, both in cadence, movement, and likeness. Petyr Bailish and a Catwoman (Animated Series, played by Adrianne Curry) were the best, to name a few. The #2 reason to attend is for the Gaslamp district at night (and yes, collect rare comics/graphic novels and trading cards)! I also enjoy perusing/buying original art, as there are so many fantastic artists displaying their best work, it’s important to support the reason the con exists in the first place.

Batwoman, Wonder Woman, and Satu Runa

Batwoman, Wonder Woman, and Satu Runa

Thursday night, I was lucky enough to attend a Tori Amos concert. It was an incredibly intimate show on the harbor. It completely drove me back into the 90s (which is where I like to live most of the time) and it was refreshingly powerful and classic, just her and her piano. What a lady. A truly soulful and AWAKE artist.

Friday: My sea legs were starting to crumble. I powered through the morning scanning the aisles for cool corsets, rings, trading cards, and graphic novels (like Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan, an incredible sci-fi/fantasy comic a friend recently recommended to me).  

Saturday: Got to meet Adrianne Curry, who, at the time I did not know, had just beat a guy’s face for sexually assaulting her friend, who was dressed as Marvel’s Tigra. She was an awesome Catwoman (from the animated series) and posed for a photo with me. She is a strong woman. While comic-con is no place for violence or assaults, she did the right thing. It only happens because of the sheer volume of people, you are bound to get a certain percentage of criminals and psychopaths.

Alicia Marie, Adrianne Curry, Satu Runa, and friend

Alicia Marie, Adrianne Curry, Satu Runa, and friend

Sunday: The final day. It’s always a somber feeling. Comic con is such a burst of positive energy, I am overwhelmed by it’s instant happiness on the attendees. Michaelangelo breakdancing in full regalia. Captain America motioning for curious children to come take a picture with him and Superman. The smirk on Loki’s face when he is asked to get his picture taken. The joy of Arthur Dent when he is recognized (with towel). The skill and artistry of the wardrobe from a very large group of characters (plus George R.R. Martin) from Game of Thrones. Last but not least: Seeing a boy of 9, skinny and light as air, donning a Finn from Adventure Time bear hat, skipping down the hallway to a panel. This was the sweetest moment. Nothing affects me more powerfully than other people sharing a mutual passion for all things geeky, and seeing how happy it makes them when it is celebrated en masse.

Satu Runa at Arkham Knight video game display. This pic got my 144 favorites and 42 retweets! :)

Satu Runa at Arkham Knight video game display. This pic got my 144 favorites and 42 retweets! :)

After spending 20 minutes on the floor, I walked around the back of the convention center for the first time. Gotham City zip-lining. The Simpsons Experience. Godzilla photo-op. And sailboats. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the one yacht named “Oberon,” both for me being a Shakespeare nerd, but also for the Game of Thrones reference. I people watched for an hour, pontificating about my life and the weekend, until a kite caught my eye.   A man in a pedicab was flying a kite down the boardwalk as another person pedaled. The playfulness and the free-spirit of the green and blue sting-ray like flying object affected me deeply. I thought to myself, my heart is like a kite. Playful and free, yet always tethered to the ground. And perhaps Comic-Con is like a kite. We are here to escape, to take off and play… to let our spirits soar into the realms of fantasy and fiction. Yet we remain tethered, as Sunday comes to an early close, with the long drive back into the reality that is called “Tinseltown.”

Pictures from my 7D coming in the next post. Until then,

Later, fanboys and fangirls!

Satu Runa at Comic Con International 2014

Satu Runa at Comic Con International 2014

Satu (aka “The Final Fangirl”)

Queen Gorya, Kickstarter-Funded TV Pilot Underway

I have to say that the Kickstarter campaign for our 1/2 hour comedy pilot, Queen Gorya, completely wore me out.  It was a tumultuous time for everyone involved.  Yet the last few hours of the campaign were the most exhilarating hours of my life.

Thanks to all of our patrons, we managed to raise $13,000 in 36 days.  When a project is funded by the fans, every creative decision is done with the joy of knowing that we are going to make these people proud and happy.  I still can’t believe it.

And so, pre-production is well underway.  Production is planned to begin early April.  We have a stellar cast, with an equal share of seasoned comical actors and rising star talent.  They will be the soul of this machine- and I’m driving!  As director & producer, I couldn’t be more proud of my work and my team.  This is going to be epic.

Queen Gorya and Terry the Wolfman

Queen Gorya and Terry the Wolfman illustration by Adrian Barrios

The best part about it, however, is that I get to be Gloria Gorgodianm aka “Queen Gorya,” and look through her green-tinted shades once again for a few days.  Life is better in character.

-Satu Runa, your actress and filmmaker.

The Art of Assimilation: From the Voice of a Canadian-American

The twitter-sphere is reeling after Coke aired an ad during the Super Bowl that reflects America’s beautiful diversity and multi-culturalism.  We all have our own unique storyline of what makes us who we are: hometown, our parent’s culture, your sub-culture, the culture you are met with when you move somewhere else, and the culture you wish to incorporate by choice in your adult life.  Identity is a precious concept that no one should take away -or force- onto you.  I hold onto mine for dear life.

The world is smaller than most people dare to know.  Assimilation may be a bad thing (how one must give up their own culture in order to adopt the culture of the country that they immigrate too), though I now see it in a different light.  It is a mere addition to the person you already are.  It’s a method of survival in a strange land (i.e., when I moved to the South, I stopped using the word “damn,” [which was never a big deal in Alberta] as every time I said it, people froze).  How much of America is lost when immigrants do not assimilate?  How much of a person is lost when they do assimilate?

Satu Runa
…this was the toned-down version of my metal self (me circa 2005)

Moving from Canada to the American South, you would think assimilation was easy.  However; it was the most difficult transition of my life (second only to the culture shock of moving to Los Angeles from New York!).  For a time, I silenced my political beliefs (as this was the most foreign quality I had) and I didn’t speak about religion too much (I was raised without religion – this was the most “offensive” thing about me).   I couldn’t give up my skin color.  Coming from Canada, I couldn’t hide my slight accent.  All in all, it was my acceptance of the new world around me that was difficult- not their acceptance of me.  The acceptance of my circumstance is what kept me up at night.  What was more of an identity crusher: later on in life, in order to find acting work, I had to visibly give up the strong sub-culture that found me (metal), sustained me, and allowed me to assimilate and build a strong identity (or ego) to protect myself from the horrors of an ultra-conservative society.

Satu Runa

Walking in a winter wonderland in Central Park

What people have to remember is that while being multi-cultural is okay, a lot of us are still guests of this country, and what we offer is to add flavor to the recipe that already exists.  The USA is a rich broth full of ingredients from around the world.  We are merely adding spices to the pot as time goes on.  But that pot has been here longer than you.

If you move to a country with one national language, you should learn it.  It’s a survival thing.  I also believe that it’s arrogant to expect people to learn any other language in this country.  I admire multi-linguists (I myself know French), but Americans shouldn’t be expected to learn Spanish (even though it’s a sexier language, and people are always better off knowing more than one).  Until this country officially becomes bilingual, forget it.  Even in Canada (which is officially bilingual) hardly anyone knows or speaks French out west because they don’t have to.

Holding onto one’s culture and identity is a ferocious sport in a changing world.  It’s why Quebec wants a separation.  It’s why I love hockey, Tim Hortons, and winter SO much.  It’s the part of this country that embraces tidbits of my Canadian heritage that keeps me going.  It’s all that I have to hold onto.  It’s why I feel compelled to cheer for Team Canada but not Team USA (though I do root for specific US athletes if I’ve been following their story, and of course, if they are cute).  I would never let anyone take my heritage away from me.  Though I did not move the to United States by choice, it’s my choice to stay, and I am doing my best to respect the country that I have grudgingly adapted to.  I focus on the good things (rock n’ roll, art, poetry, barbecue/beer/bonfires, San Francisco, New York, my friends) and surround myself with like-minded individuals who want to make this country more exciting.  I don’t have to be anything but who I want to be.  Isn’t that part of the American dream of freedom?

While the message in the Superbowl Coke ad (and most liberal blogs) is “tolerance,” both sides of the debate are worth hearing.  What makes America beautiful is the acceptance of different people and the amazingly unique American culture that has been born from a history of immigration.  The world is changing and it cannot wait for you to change with it.  Be yourself.  It’s what freedom is all about.  But be prepared for the battle field that is the acceptance of society, because they will come barking.


2014 Projections for The Final Fangirl: A New Hope


The cast of Cabaret (TheTribe Productions) at the Bindlestiff Studio in San Francisco, CA

I’ve spent most of the year in San Francisco performing in Cabaret, the musical, with the amazing TheTribe Productions.  While I feel anxious to get back into the industry game, it was REALLY nice actually working as an actress for most of the month!

It’s a funny feeling actually getting acting work that lasts longer than a few days.  I adore the theater for this reason, it makes you feel complete as a thespian: fully immersing yourself in a world that is not your own.  For the past four months I have been living in early 1930s Berlin, on stage in a cabaret, as a “Kit Kat” girl.  It was one of my better acting experiences since moving to LA and hopping on the “business of acting” bandwagon, a swift departure from my New York days as a working and student actress.  It was lovely escaping from the business and actually enjoying my craft for a change.  And in a city that totally RIVALS my beloved New York!


That’s me at the bottom right, as “Rosie” the Jewish Kit Kat Girl

January is a strange month.  While the rest of the city is hitting the pavement for pilot season, I am, most often, in a play, shooting an independent film, or producing and directing something myself.  I know I’m an unusual “type” that agents have a strange time pinpointing, but I’ve decided to spend less time on my marketing and more time on actually ACTING.  It’s important to remember why pursued acting in the first place.  I actually caught myself looking at potential law degree programs today, as I am sick of living poorly just for the chance of getting a decent audition.  I want to make money because I want to live well.  I know my mother would rejoice if I merely entertained the thought of becoming a lawyer.

What’s interesting is that no matter what job I take, I can surely climb to the top and be the best at it.  I have no doubt.  Of course, I chose a career in which you have very little say in how far you climb.  I’ve strived for so long, and it’s time to live well.  I was made for gigantic projects.  I was born to be a producer, director, writer, singer, and actress.  I am super happy performing music as a solo artist, doing acoustic sessions and writing sad songs for small audiences.  I am happy performing musical theater in a completely packed 99-seat house.  It certainly felt like home working at the tiny Bindlestiff Studio for those precious weeks.  I live for back-breaking dance rehearsals and the cosmetic aroma of a theater’s dressing room.  Take me there…

So what is NEXT?  Queen Gorya is next.  Promoting her at WonderCon, Monsterpalooza, San Diego Comic Con, Days of the Dead, and New York Comic Con is next.  I must finish the outrageous TV pilot that we started, with our glorious Kickstarter campaign funds that took EVERY cell in my system to obtain!  Though I am constantly asking myself this question:  What was I born to do for this world? Who am I in service of?  After my experience on set last year for Queen Gorya as executive producer, star, and director, I never felt more at home.  It was a calm set, one of the most sweet experiences I’ve had on a film set, in fact.   I owe it to myself to maintain a silky smooth adventure on my film sets.  I know that I am capable of a lot, and I know that’s why my mother’s heart breaks every time she talks to me and I am in dismay because there are no auditions lined up.   My journey is the LONG and difficult one.

DO IT YOURSELF:  I have been inspired to create a burlesque show (under a stage name that I have yet to announce!).  I also plan on performing a solo acoustic set at the House of Blues this spring.  I am spending a lot of time finishing up a sci-fi feature film script and a brand new adventure TV pilot that I will be pitching.  I’m formulating a business plan for my production company, Final Fangirl Productions, that involves two feature films (sci-fi and thriller) and two TV series in development.

Sometimes I feel as though I don’t have enough years in my life to complete the work I have set out for myself.  I aim to create my ideal future as an actress: picking up script after script of projects people want me to perform in.  Another reason why I would love to have an agent…to help me break down those doors.  If I could act and sing all of the time, I would… I would do it till my soul bled.

Satu (your frustrated, hard-working, jane-of-all-trades that only wants to be an actress/pop star)

“Cracking the Code” that Stalls *Who* From Climbing the Ladder?

Harvard Business Review (a management magazine published by Harvard Business Publishing, subsidiary of Harvard University) recently published an article (written by Sylvia Ann Hewlett) about “multi-cultural” professionals and their difficulties adapting to the job title and characteristics of the “American CEO.”  While it is an existing problem (primarily for individuals not born in the United States, assimilating to American culture for any profession), I must point out several poorly chosen nouns in this article:

Multicultural professionals hold only 11% of executive posts in corporate America. Among Fortune 500 CEOs, only six are black, eight are Asian, and eight are Hispanic.

Hewlett choses to not capitalize the word “black” to describe “Black people.”  While there is no certain consensus on the matter of whether to capitalize White or Black when describing a human being, it is more respectful particularly when you are including the terms Asian and Hispanic (both capitalized) in the same sentence.

…because senior leaders are overwhelmingly Caucasian, multicultural professionals (African-American, Asian, and Hispanic individuals) find themselves at an immediate disadvantage in trying to look, sound, and act like a leader.

“Top jobs are given to those who look and act the part.”  Well, of course they are.  I would say in any CEO or leadership position around the world, people are expected to act a certain way.  That way is not necessarily a “White” way.  When I accept a job, of any kind, I am expected to behave in a certain way.  That is the nature of being a professional.  What I behave like with my friends and family is not what I behave like when I am in a leadership position.  Everyone must subdue certain characteristics they withhold in order to obtain a position of power.  Particularly women, who must defy ingrained social stereotypes to be bold and fearless (which is  a lot of fun, I might add).

Hewlett also uses the term “multi-cultural” incorrectly (she uses the term “Multi-Cultural Professionals” when she probably means a “Multi-Cultural Workplace”).  Do Americans who have white skin have no other culture than the country they were born in?  Why do people of color automatically become “multi-cultural”?  Hewlett refers to “Asians” and “Hispanics” that are also American, with no such distinction.  Why are people still calling Americans of African descent, “African-American,” yet Americans of Asian descent are still just “Asians,” and Americans who descend from Hispanic cultures are just “Hispanic.”  People who are born in America are “American.”  Only people who emigrated to America get the hyphen.  Stop dividing us.  We are all Americans, and as long as people still classify people of color as “other” and not simply “American,” there will be a glass ceiling at the top.

Harvard Business Review, I expect a lot more of you.  Take a class on Interracial Communication and learn something important.

-Satu Runa (a multi-cultural Canadian-American woman, often put into a position of power, and I like it).

Read the original article from Harvard Business Review here:

My 2013 Year in Review (Pretty. Freakin. Epic.)

2013: The Year of Er0S, and a lot of firsts!

  1. Met Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo, and the original Freedom Riders
  2. The Coalition (Magnolia Pictures) released on Blu-Ray, 5 days after our producer won the Superbowl!
  3. Went to my first NAMM, met Stephen Perkins (drummer of MY FAVORITE BAND) 
  4. Started an actor’s reel production company
  5. Directed, starred in, and executive produced the Queen Gorya pilot trailer
  6. Dr. Pepper commercial released (my first national)
  7. Ascertained that directing is my greatest passion and strength, second only to acting
  8. Attended 5 comic and horror conventions (only 5?) in character as Queen Gorya.  Heisted the Days of the Dead panel of a famous wrestler.  Garnered a few thousand fans.  Got invited to host next year’s con (!)
  9. Met a performer I truly admire and respect, Ogre of Skinny Puppy
  10. Played a wicked “morgue zombie” in a SyFy original feature, which filmed on location in a cemetery
  11. Booked a professional dancer role in my first Bollywood feature film.
  12. Had an EPIC trip back to New York City for 4th of July, with Mara Lee Gilbert, Thomas Vasquez, and Jon Kita (the original dusketeers, plus one)!
  13. Shot a wicked web series in New York called “MilkShakespeare” 
  14. Got to know a few sacred tigers, lions, and bears at the Wildlife Waystation, thanks to the ravishing Rachel Prescott
  15. Raised 13K for Queen Gorya Pilot Episode through Kickstarter
  16. Got cast in an incredible production of “Cabaret” and started working with some of the most interesting and wild people in LA.

2014 begins with another fantastic year of life…in the CABARET.

The State of Queen Gorya

I’ve been working very hard on a TV series called “Queen Gorya.”  I play the title character of the series created by Andrew Harrison, and it has been a wonderful challenge producing, directing, and developing this dark comedy TV series.  It is my first crowdfunding campaign (which ends November 20th), and I find the most donations come from family and friends.  The other projects on Kickstarter have inspired me, the ones that are most compelling are the inventions and start-ups.  We have $8000 left to raise in just 12 days, and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  It has been heartbreaking, back breaking, and mind breaking but I feel compelled to complete this journey.

Queen Gorya stars Satu Runa and Steve J. Palmer

Queen Gorya stars Satu Runa and Steve J. Palmer

The challenge of producing a project that you did not create lies in inspiring and motivating everyone involved, including the potential fans.  I’m amazed at what I am willing and able to do just for a small opportunity to act.  Actors are crazy for a reason- that’s what it takes to get something done.  I love Queen Gorya and would cherish the opportunity to tell her story properly through the medium we deem worthy of her.  If we do not meet our goal, it will be very hard to walk away.  If I walk away, this project will die.  I hope it never comes to this.  After 1 year of my life, pretty much every day has been dedicated to creating this TV show.  It just goes to show that it takes a whole lot more than one person’s ambition to make something happen.  My next challenge is to find another producer that can be inspired by our work and help get our show in the proper spotlight.

A poster, designed by Tom Vasquez, for our Kickstarter campaign:

"Queen Gorya" illustration by Tom Vasquez

“Queen Gorya” illustration by Tom Vasquez

So here’s to Queen Gorya, Temptress of Terror.  Let her live on into the night, and perhaps will someday make an appearance on television or computers all over the world.  Save Queen Gorya: