With ClexaCon coming up next month I had the chance to chat about the convention with the co-runners, Ashley Arnold and Danielle Jablonski. You might recognize these names from a feature I did on ClexaCon London this year. This time we solely focused on the Las Vegas convention and some of the new features that have been included this year. Thank you to Ashley and Danielle for taking the time to answer my questions.
Could you tell our readers a little bit about yourselves?
ClexaCon is run by Ashley Arnold and Danielle Jablonski along with a dedicated team of volunteers who work year-round to create an incredible event.
How would you describe the mission and focus of ClexaCon?
One of our main goals is to empower more LGBTQ women, trans and non-binary people to get involved in creating content that truthfully tells our stories. We do this by highlighting those within our communities who are already creating content as well as providing panels and workshops to help creators and aspiring creators learn new skills and network with other creators. The other thing we try to do at each event is create a safe welcoming space for LGBTQ women, trans and non-binary folks from around the world to come together to celebrate the characters and stories we love and have a great time.
What inspired you to create ClexaCon?
The 2016-2017 TV season was a particularly bad one for LGBTQ women’s representation with a very high percentage of all female-identified LGBTQ characters being killed on their respective shows. We were impacted by the death of fan-favorite Lexa from the show The 100 and the subsequent outpouring of frustration from LGBTQ women that our stories were not being represented well on our screens. We wanted to create an event to celebrate the stories we love and bring together fans from around the world and to create a space in real life for some of the conversations that were happening on social media.
Did you expect the convention to grow in the way that it did?
ClexaCon grew in ways we never imagined. We had an incredible turnout in year one and it has only grown since. We love what ClexaCon has evolved into and we hope to provide a place for people to gather for many more years to come!
Could you explain the new elements that have been added to ClexaCon 2019, especially the new collaborations?
This year we’re adding an extra day of activities on Thursday April 11 focused specifically on helping creators and academics.
The Creators Lab will allow creators to learn from some amazing industry professionals and organizations like SAG-AFTRA as well as networking with film festival coordinators and many others. It will consist of a full day of panels, workshops and networking events.
The Academic Lab will have teaching and research seasons for anyone in or interested academia to discuss integrating queer fandom and research into classrooms.
What do you hope attendees take away from the convention experience?
We hope everyone leaves having experienced a supportive and fun weekend. We want attendees to know that there is a space at ClexaCon for them to come and be themselves. We want members of our community to know that there is support out there for them to create the content they want to see and an audience who wants to see and support that content. We want people to be inspired.
Are there any elements of the convention that you plan to focus on growing and changing in the future?
Every year we hope to provide an even better experience for attendees and guests. At each convention we add something new like the comedy night and speed friending last year and the creator and academic labs this year. I imagine that there will be new additions next year too!
What are your hopes for the future of ClexaCon?
We hope that we can help push the conversation about representation in media forward and we hope that more members of the LGBTQ community will become content creators and decision makers in the industry.
What have been some of your favorite ClexaCon moments?
One really exciting thing for us is hearing about all of the projects that have come out of people meeting at ClexaCon. We’re excited to be premiering some web series this year that have come to fruition after people met at ClexaCon and one web series premiere that won our annual Pitch to Production competition in our first year. It’s been great to follow the progress of that project and others.
Where can our readers find the most up to date information about ClexaCon?
Follow us on twitter @ClexaCon or visit our website http://clexa-con.com
*Editor’s Note: Previously this interview stated Ashley Arnold and Danielle Jablonski were co-creators of ClexaCon, but this information was noted as incorrect. They are the current runners of the convention, but were not the original creators. The original creators are noted as Holly Winebarger, Nicole Hand, and Emily Maroutian. Edits were made on 3/16/2019 to reflect this.*