Archives for : nicole beharie

Kyoko Goes to DragonCon 2015!

This time last week, your favorite nerdy author had the privilege of attending Dragon*Con: a science-fiction/fantasy convention in Atlanta, Georgia. I attended because I was invited by the talented Milton Davis in order to be a panelist for The State of Black Science Fiction.

I flew in from Orlando, FL Thursday night and then woke up at the crack of dawn on Friday and took the train over to the con. One thing that veterans know about the con is that there’s nothing you can do about the overcrowding problem. Dragon*Con is run out of five hotels in downtown Atlanta: Sheraton, Hilton, Westin, Hyatt, and Marriott. You’d think that’d be enough room, but it’s not. Thousands of people attend every year, and it doesn’t matter how early or late you’re at the con. You’re gonna wait in line forever and you’re gonna be mad about it because the people who run the con refuse to move it to a venue like the Georgia World Congress Center because they are apparently all Mr. Krabs.

Mr Krabs Hello I Like Money

As a result, I basically spent most of Friday morning and afternoon mapping out the con and trying to figure out how to bounce between five freaking hotels. I was able to go to a panel run by Corey Castalleno, the guy who makes the creature makeup and effects for FOX’s show ‘Sleepy Hollow.’ I couldn’t stay for the whole thing, but it was actually really nifty seeing the different concept art for the monsters on the show and how he put them together before the final shooting of the episodes. I had to head from that panel to the one I was invited to participate in.

The State of Black Science Fiction is basically an assessment of how black culture has changed over the course of the preceding year. I was joined by Milton Davis (moderator), Balogun Ojetade, Nila Brown, Ed Hall, L.M. Davis, and Gerald Coleman. Milton presented us with questions about diversity in literature, television, movies, and comic books. For instance, he mentioned how the popularity of shows like Scandal and Empire have cast light on black women in Hollywood, and have increased interest in seeing black women either on screen or writing. We discussed how the advantages and disadvantages of the trend, and how we might be able to use it to open the doors into our own work long after it’s gone. There was a good turnout for the panel, too; between 40-50 fans who also were able to ask questions towards the end of the panel.

It was a very enriching experience for me, since this was my first time ever being on a panel. I was able to answer a few questions myself as well as hear some unique opinions and perspectives from writers a little further along the career path than me. I love talking shop with other authors, and it was amazing to be able to interact with readers who enjoy diverse sci-fi/fantasy as well.

After the panel, I had dinner and then took an inadvisable trek to Joystick, which is a tiny bar about 2 miles from the con where the Black Girl Nerds meetup started at 7pm. I was lucky enough to meet the organizer, Jamie Broadnax, and engaged in some great conversation with another congoer and black author along with Milton Davis. It was an amazing environment with some truly witty, fun-loving fellow blerds.

On Saturday, I once again got up early and took the train in for a busy day of hobnobbing. The other reason I decided to attend DragonCon was because Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie, the stars of ‘Sleepy Hollow’, my guiltiest of guilty pleasure shows, attended. Nicole’s autograph session was at 2pm, and so around half-past noon, I went into the Walk of Fame where all the celebrity guests were held, and started to map out what I was going to do. Since the room was already packed to burst and there is actually an occupant limit, I decided to mill around instead of leaving and coming back, which ran the risk of not being let back in.

While I was going from table to table, I happened to run into James Urbaniak, the voice of Dr. Rusty Venture from one of my favorite animated series ‘The Venture Bros.’ I said, why the hell not, and asked him for a selfie.


While the two of us were chatting and I was setting up my phone, someone walked past me behind the table. I turn to say ‘excuse me, sorry that I was in the way,’ and find myself face to face with BILL FRICKIN’ CORBETT, aka one-third of the incredible team of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and later the incomparable Rifftrax. I instead exclaimed, “HOLY CRAP!” and then clapped a hand over my mouth and apologized profusely for setting my backpack on his side of the table.

Mr. Corbett, however, was super-nice and said not to worry about it, and I proceeded to gush like an idiot about how I had JUST been watching the Indiana Jones 4 Rifftrax the night before and how I had gone to the Rifftrax Live of Sharknado 2. Bill laughed and told me he swears they are not forcing him into riffing the third one, and we proceeded to chat about Atlanta and how he was enjoying the con so far. It was by far the most surreal experience of the entire con. The even funnier part is that I wasn’t even supposed to be at that table. I had gone over to that side of the room because I saw Bill Farmer, the voice of Goofy, and I had an hour to waste so I figured I’d see him, but he had maybe four people in line and that was when I bumped into James Urbaniak. How cool is that? I didn’t take a selfie with Bill since I had a limited amount of cash at the time, but that was an awesome freak accident if there ever was one. I am an absolutely enormous fan of Rifftrax, so this was beyond cool for a dork like me.

After that amazing random encounter, I returned to the area for Nicole Beharie and proceeded to stand in line…for a grand total of an hour and a half. It was as grueling as it sounds. One of the big things to note is that not only is Dragoncon overcrowded, but it’s also expensive and poorly run. I was in line waiting for Nicole for an hour and a half, and then ten minutes before she showed up, a staff member told us her autograph was $50, cash only. I checked my wallet. I only had $35. Which meant I wasted all that time and wouldn’t get her autograph because there was no posting that said how much she’d be, and the staff waited until the last second to tell us.

However, an extraordinary thing happened. The group of people I was in line with each donated $5 so that I could get the autograph. And I didn’t ask them for it. I was about to get my stuff and leave, but they volunteered to help out. I was overwhelmed. That is by far the biggest show of kindness from complete strangers that I’ve seen all year. I thanked them profusely and then about 20 minutes later, I was able to meet Nicole Beharie, aka Lt. Abbie Mills from Sleepy Hollow.


Meeting Nicole was everything I hoped for. She was unbelievably sweet, and very gracious. I told her that I was so grateful to have a black woman represented in a fantasy setting, and that as a black author, it was important to me that she portrayed her as so intelligent and strong and human. She scoffed when I told her I consider her a role model and told me, “You need better role models” and then I was also able to give her a paperback copy of The Black Parade. Yes, I know that’s incredibly ballsy and it was probably foolhardy, but I went for it anyway because why the hell not?

After that, I sped my way over to the Magnificent Men of Sci-Fi/Fantasy panel, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I thought it was a panel about the male characters written by the authors on the panel—one of which was Jim Butcher, author of the Dresden Files, aka my favorite series ever—but it was actually a panel about their experiences as authors, not their characters. It bummed me out that it was moderator’s questions only, no audience participation, but it actually turned out to be a really informative and fun panel nonetheless.

Last but certainly not least, I headed over to the photo op area for my much-anticipated photo op with Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie. The anticipation was killing me, but the end result was so very much worth it. I asked them to do a pose, which they thought was hilarious, and so they agreed and this is the end result.


No matter how much that trip cost, looking at this picture is always going to cheer me right the hell up. Tom gives amazing hugs, and Nicole’s “jealous” face was 100% perfection. They were both such good sports and I cannot express how much I enjoyed meeting them.

My last day at the con was Sunday morning for An Hour with Jim Butcher. I had been debating whether I wanted to get up yet again and sacrifice my sleep for being a big dumb nerdy fangirl, but I decided to go for it. What ensued is probably yet another highlight of my entire life. Please enjoy the following.

Yes, that was me holding the camera. Yes, that was unscripted. Yes, Jim Butcher is basically Satan and is the most life-ruining author of all time. And yes, I still love him with all my heart.

After that hilarious panel, I took the train to the airport and then regretfully returned to my normal life.


As stressful and expensive as Dragon*Con was, I’m still glad I went. It was my little island in the middle of a horrific storm that I’ve been trying to weather for the past several months. Even though I still think the con isn’t run anywhere near properly, I would return if invited again. Those interactions make an otherwise dull life worth living.

The Slippery Slope (Part 2)

Featuring Nicole Beharie (Abbie Mills), Tom Mison (Ichabod Crane), and their usual lack of personal space.

Featuring Nicole Beharie (Abbie Mills), Tom Mison (Ichabod Crane), and their usual lack of personal space.

The story of how I got roped into watching ‘Sleepy Hollow’ seems like an old classic. Here I was with my steady lineup of shows and then I heard about a fantasy show with a black female protagonist. Granted, it was on Fox—the Judas of all television channels—but I figured that since I’m in the same business, I should watch the trailer. Needless to say, I was not impressed and thought it was the dumbest premise I’ve ever seen in my life. However, I felt obligated as a fellow woman of color to support a show that featured a black woman as something other than a side chick or a housewife, and gave the pilot a watch.

Since then, I’ve been watching ‘Sleepy Hollow’ with mild interest. Yes, the premise is ridiculous, there is absolutely no logic involved with any of the monster-hunting, and it’s basically like taking one of my books and putting it in a blender with ‘Constantine’ (2005) and ‘Supernatural’, but it’s still harmless entertainment with a twist of diversity.

Fast-forward to a couple weeks ago. If you’re acquainted with the ‘Sleepy Hollow’ fandom, then you know that the episode “Deliverance” is ground zero for one of the biggest fandom freak outs in quite some time. And rightfully so.

If you haven’t been reading Genevieve Valentine’s io9 Sleepy Hollow recaps, please do. She pretty much sums up my feelings about 80% of the time, but I’ll give you a quick rundown of why the episode was a nuclear holocaust: Ichabod Crane’s witch wife, Katrina, has been staying with the bad guys—her son, Jeremy, the Horseman of War—and Abraham—the Headless Horseman of Death, who was her betrothed back in the day before they all time jumped into modern day thanks to the war with the demon Moloch—in order to “spy on them for valuable information” to later share with Crane and Abbie Mills, his partner, police officer, and fellow Witness (and work wife, if we’re being honest.) In the previous episode, Jeremy got his hands on an evil substance that turned into a spider, crawled into Katrina’s mouth, and somehow managed to impregnate her with a baby version of Moloch. Yes, I cannot believe I just typed that sentence with any amount of sanity in my brain. Katrina escapes to Crane and Abbie to figure out how to get rid of the demon baby before Moloch is born and the war begins.

Where do I even begin with why this episode may in fact do this show in for good? I mean, if I can manage to sidestep the utter creepiness of a son inseminating his mother, or the tired-ass plotpoint of “unwanted supernatural pregnancy,” then the clear reason why this episode did not work is centered around Katrina Crane. Her presence in this show went from exasperating to just plain infuriating.

Look, it’s not like Katrina needs to be a gun-toting bad ass like Abbie to be a good character. I can name plenty of Non Action Girl heroines that are effective and three dimensional. The problem is that she doesn’t do anything useful. She’s such a damsel in distress. She went undercover to spy on the bad guys, and yet all she did up until that episode was send Crane a note with a raven. She has not learned a damn thing and she hasn’t done much other than giving Crane vague messages while she was in Purgatory back in season one. Even though her actions technically started the plot of the series, the fact that the writers staunchly refuse to make her an important asset to Team Witness is grating.

For example, even though Jeremy kidnapped her and left Crane to die in a coffin buried underground last season, Katrina is somehow convinced that there is good in Jeremy and he can be saved. She even gets Crane in on her nonsense, insisting that Moloch’s influence is why he turned out evil. We have not seen one single sign that Jeremy is being controlled, but she and Crane insist to Abbie that their faith in him is why he deserves to be saved. Mind you, Crane goes to Jeremy and asks him to get rid of the demon baby and he pretty much laughs in Crane’s face before leaving, but this somehow still doesn’t deter the Cranes. The blind love they have for someone who is trying to literally raise hell on earth just makes me want to pound my head into the wall until I’m unconscious.

Furthermore, it’s clear that the writers just brought Katrina in for the sake of interrupting the dynamic between Crane and Abbie (affectionately called Ichabbie by those who ship them) and it feels unnatural as hell. To their credit, the tension between the two women is not jealousy. It’s just that Abbie has been busting her beautiful ass fighting Moloch and the two horsemen with Crane, but then Crane will drop whatever he’s doing to coo and fuss over his wife, who constantly distracts him from the work he should be doing trying to prevent the Apocalypse. If Katrina were written properly, she would have a vast knowledge of the dark forces of magic, she would be able to combat Jeremy and Abraham’s schemes with spells, or she would be teaching Abbie incantations that could later help her protect herself (as Abbie usually only has a gun and that never works against the monsters in this show.) And yet here we are, with Katrina preggers with a demon baby whining and screaming and protesting that Jeremy is still worth saving despite the fact that he put the demon inside her knowing that its birth would kill her.

Majority of the fanbase was rightfully angry at this episode because it just brought up how unacceptable Katrina’s presence is in this show because she is not helping any facet of the show move forward. She’s a roadblock, plain and simple. She opposes Abbie for paper thin reasons, she has lied to her husband on multiple occasions, and while she protests that she has no feelings for Abraham, she still seems to like the attention he dotes on her. Two episodes later and Katrina is back with Jeremy and Abraham under the pretense that she’s still spying on them, and she made Abbie tell Crane she was going back to them like an irresponsible coward.

Honestly, the way the Cranes have been acting in the last two episodes have killed off a large part of my interest in this show. ‘Sleepy Hollow’ is not smart or controversial or brilliant. It works because Tom Mison (Crane), Nicole Beharie (Abbie), Lyndie Greenwood (Jenny), Orlando Jones(Captain Irving), and John Noble (Jeremy) all have the acting chops to make this farce of a premise seem interesting. Tom and Nicole have bucketloads of chemistry, whether romantic or not, and they are the core of why people watch this show. This season has lost its way by shoving Katrina into the spotlight but not giving her anything to do, shelving the incredibly awesome Orlando “Trollando” Jones, putting Jenny on a bus for several inexplicable episodes, forcing us to spend time with the charm-deficient mercenary and failed attempt at a love interest for Abbie Nick Hawley, and for taking away the meat of the show that everyone was enjoying and replacing it with dry wheat toast.

The worst part is that ‘Sleepy Hollow’ also isn’t the most popular show on the network. It’s doing alright, but if even a portion of the fans jump ship because of the poor writing, then it could be circling the drain by the time the season ends if they don’t get back on track. While I’m not married to this show by any stretch, I do think what it represents is important and that’s why it deserves a shot at longevity. We need diversity in television—not just with black women, but people of color in general rarely get the chance to be a main character in an urban fantasy or supernatural type show. I want this show to do better because it fills a void. Sure, there are novels with women of color in the lead, but it’s highly rare for television and it needs to be a stepping stone to future diversity-oriented shows.

My hope is that the writers have paid attention to the large outcry that “Deliverance” caused and learn from their mistakes. I hope they write Katrina better, whether it’s giving her something to actually do in the show or letting her go to the Dark Side with the baddies. I hope they stop making up lame reasons for Crane and Abbie to fight. I hope they don’t create a stupid love triangle between Hawley and the Mills sisters (which would be a moot point since I genuinely think Abbie is not interested in any romance period, Crane or Hawley or otherwise). Fingers crossed, Sleepyheads. Hang in there.


Turning the Corner on Diversity in TV

He's a 250-year-old gentleman.

He’s a 250-year-old gentleman. Aw.

With all the turmoil going on in this country, there just might be a light at the end of the tunnel, particularly for women of color.

Sleepy Hollow’s second season hit the airwaves September 22, 2014, and as I watched the premiere and read the hilariously overexcited fans’ reactions on Tumblr, I came to the realization that women of color just might be in luck in the future. While ‘Sleepy Hollow’ isn’t as popular as some other shows in similar genres, and while it isn’t particularly a very good show, it still has a solid foothold on viewers. Could we in fact be on the verge of introducing more women of color into main lead roles on network television?

I’m not going to give it all the credit, but I do think ‘Scandal’ might have been the spark that started what could be a fire for more diversity in television. Olivia Pope (played by the gorgeous and whip-smart Kerry Washington) started out getting the black community frothing at the mouth for more political thrills and sexual intrigue, but then as the seasons progressed, we began to see more than just black people watching. ‘Scandal’ is one of the highest rated shows on ABC, which previously had been a very lukewarm channel with little to no exceptional shows aside from ‘Castle’ (but then again, I am biased). Then it was syndicated with BET (big surprise there) and has been consistently putting butts in chairs Thursday nights. While the idea of sex scandals in politics is nothing new, it was the first time in quite a while that America was seeing an intelligent, driven, mostly independent black woman in a main role of leadership. Sure, we’ve had plenty of black women on network TV in the past few years, but they’ve always been in supporting roles, never the lead unless it was some trashy reality show involving housewives.

‘Sleepy Hollow’ and ‘Scandal’ are nothing alike, and that is what makes a bit excited if this is indeed a trend. We have two completely different characters in two completely different genres that are growing in popularity and are sticking around. Further proof of the potential trend is Viola Davis’ upcoming lawyer-thriller, ‘How to Get Away with Murder.’ Again, not busting open anything we’ve never seen before, but Viola Davis is one hell of an actress and she’s more than welcome on our plasma screens.

Nerdy black girls like me are also nothing new. We’ve been around forever, but this is the first time in my lifetime, as far as I know, that we have popular shows on popular networks with intelligent black female protagonists. This could be big. This could be the break we’ve been needing, as the past few years have seen more black ghetto baby mamas and divas in reality TV than you can shake a curling iron at. While some would say it’s just harmless entertainment—after all, the term is reality show, which is still scripted in some parts—I have always been frustrated with the lack of women of color in television that are portrayed as more than just those two stereotypes. I’ve been dying for women like the female cast of ‘Living Single’ or Nichelle Nichols or Phylicia Rashad to take the reins and show people that black women are just as interesting and worthwhile as their white counterparts, and that women of color in general need more spotlight.

It’s not just about one particular skin color, either. I am dying for ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ to come back for season two, not because of Agent Coulson (though God-knows I love that unassuming adorable man), but because of seeing Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) back in action. I truly hope that we as a country continue to hunger for things we haven’t seen and push the old broken mainstays aside to make room for creativity. I would love for this generation of young girls to be able to write school papers on great women of color in fiction instead of just watching ‘Frozen’ a thousand times and mistaking that for “strong female characters.”

Here’s hoping.