If you want your Star Wars news curated and sourced you’re best Twitter follow is @sleemo_. She answered a few questions via email for this interview.
What was your introduction to Star Wars? Has your interest in Star Wars remained consistent over the years or has it had its ups and downs?
Unlike many fans, I didn’t grow up watching the original trilogy, so the prequels were my first real introduction to Star Wars. Overall, I thought they were fun films and had no clue there was even any backlash against them. All I knew was that I enjoyed the costumes, music, and visuals, but not enough to dive deeper than that.
I then watched The Force Awakens in early 2016 and that’s when everything finally clicked. As cheesy as it sounds, that film truly opened my eyes to the magic of the saga. Although I had never previously seen the original trilogy, I felt a profound connection to the characters and was eager to see where their story would go next.
I may not have had a personal attachment to Star War prior to the sequel trilogy, but my interest in it only grows stronger with each passing year. There’s always something to love and appreciate about each film or show or book, regardless if it’s your favorite or not, so I always try to keep an open mind.
For a while I felt terrible for entering the fandom so late; the gatekeepers fooled me into thinking I didn’t count as a “real fan” because of all these arbitrary reasons. But when I brought it up on Twitter, I learned I wasn’t alone. The enthusiasm and creativity of both old fans and new continue to fuel my love for these stories.
What have been some of your favorite Star Wars stories and characters (films, TV shows, books, comics, video games, etc.)
One thing I find beautiful about the sequels is that its characters are so deeply relatable. Rey’s emotional journey really resonates with me, but it’s not just her. For instance, I see a lot myself in Finn’s desperation to escape his old life and start anew. There’s also Rose Tico, a tech-savvy woman of color who’s trying her best to honor her sister’s sacrifice (I never not cry at Paige’s scene in The Last Jedi). And how could I forget Kylo Ren, whose anger and self-destructive tendencies hit very close to home for a lot of people. The filmmakers have done a tremendous job of creating such complex heroes, villains, and supporting characters.
There are too many to choose from, but a few of my favorite books include The Last Jedi: Expanded Edition, Lost Stars, Dark Disciple, Bloodline, Catalyst, Before the Awakening, and Rey’s Survival Guide. I’ve also been enjoying the Star Wars Adventures comics and the new Star Wars Resistance animated series.
Why do you think Star Wars appeals to such a large group of people and has remained popular for so long?
As George Lucas once said, Star Wars is a modern fairy tale and myth. It’s meant to teach us a lesson about love and compassion, and those are universal. Becoming a good human being is something we all have to learn and relearn—constantly—throughout our lives, so I think these kinds of stories will always remain relevant, regardless of time or place.
When did you create your website? Why Tumblr? And why did you want to create a website about Star Wars?
The Force Awakens left me feeling excited for the next chapter of the saga, so naturally I lurked various message boards to read fan speculation about The Last Jedi. One thing quickly became clear to me: discussing Rey and Kylo Ren’s potential connection (a.k.a. Reylo) was considered taboo. One site even banned the topic altogether. The implication was that if you shipped those two characters, then something must be fundamentally wrong with you. I happen to like Rey and Kylo’s dynamic and seeing the vitriol aimed at fans like me was frankly alarming.
Long story short I didn’t feel welcome in those communities so I created sleemo.tumblr.com in February 2017 for much the same reasons most fans of both Star Wars and Reylo joined Tumblr: I desperately needed a place where I could enjoy pretty fanart, in-depth speculation/analyses, funny memes, and quality fanfiction in peace.
It wasn’t until late 2017, in the days leading up to Force Friday II, that I began covering news about The Last Jedi. At first I only posted about certain merchandise and promo materials that I liked, but it quickly expanded as I uncovered the breadth of information that was out there. I found that I enjoyed digging up new content about the upcoming films and curating them, and people seemed to respond well to them, so that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.
How would you describe Sleemo to Star Wars fans?
Sleemo is a fan-operated news blog centered mainly on the sequel trilogy. The type of content I cover includes: cast and crew interviews, book and comic releases, merchandise (toys, apparel, decor, etc.), press releases, official events, behind-the-scenes content, promo materials of all kinds, social media updates, and more. In short, if something vaguely relates to the new Star Wars films, then I probably tweeted about it.
In my free time, I also search for and help translate foreign press materials to English, transcribe video/audio interviews, and create Star Wars gifs and manips.
Why the name Sleemo?
For those who don’t know, “sleemo” is a Huttese word meaning “slimeball” and you can hear Anakin calling Sebulba that in The Phantom Menace. Looking back, I realize I probably should have picked a less… silly name ? But when I started my blog, I was honestly just searching for a short, memorable, Star Wars-y word when I stumbled upon this post on in-universe slang terms. “Sleemo” was the first thing on the list. It sounded funny to me and was available to use, so I picked it. I wish I had a more profound answer for you, but that’s it.
You chose to stay anonymous for this interview. Would you like to share why?
I would rather not get into it, but I will say that certain experiences I’ve had in the past have made me very wary about sharing my personal details online. I love being part of this huge fandom, but dealing with the toxic side of it can be… frightening, to say the least.
More and more I see people reference your Twitter account as one of the only “unofficial” places they trust for Star Wars news. Why do you think that is and what are your thoughts about the current state of websites reporting Star Wars news, rumors, and leaks?
Oh my god, I never know how to react when people say that. It’s such a huge compliment, but having a news site and becoming a reporter was never my goal when I first created my Tumblr blog. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that real people care about what I say and rely on me for updates.
Perhaps what it comes down to is fans wanting bite-sized, well-sourced news, delivered without B.S. on a consistent basis. You’ll find most of my tweets are just direct quotes from cast members and simple descriptions of who and what is in the photo. Star Wars attracts a ton of film clickbait—websites constantly sensationalize headlines or report on fake rumors just to get a reaction (and click) out of fans. And I guess sharing news in the way that I do was my subconscious response to all of that.
I always try to include the source by either quote tweeting, tagging, or adding a direct link to their site. It’s important that my followers have a way to find more information for themselves, and that sources get the credit that they deserve.
When there’s an event (like the Episode IX wrap party or an Iger Disney shareholders conference call) you seem to immediately have information from a variety of sources from Twitter and Instagram. How do you find these people? And how much time and work go into sharing the information you post?
When I know that there’s going to be an event happening, often times I will preemptively search for people who are attending it so that I can follow their updates. Take the Disney shareholders meeting, for example. I found Scott Ludwig on Twitter because he had tweeted earlier in the day that he was headed to the event. So when I heard through the livestream that Bob Iger had unveiled footage from Episode IX, I knew immediately to get in touch with him. Thankfully he was very receptive, and that one reply he sent to me led to a flood of questions from fans and more details of said footage. That was a fun day.
80% of my time working on Sleemo is spent refreshing different websites, scrolling through endless search results, and hoping I will find something worthwhile amidst the pile. It’s incredibly time-consuming and inefficient, but that’s how I roll. I really don’t sleep very much.
What are some of your favorite Star Wars websites, blogs, or podcasts?
What content from your website (or Twitter account) are you the proudest of over the last year?
Recently, I made a Star Wars Celebration Chicago panel calendar to help other attendees plan their schedules at the convention and it’s so rewarding to hear that it’s genuinely helped a lot of other Star Wars fans. Jason Fry was even kind enough to retweet it ? I always enjoy sorting information into more digestible pieces and it’s nice to know that other people are benefiting from it.
The scoop from the Disney shareholders meeting I mentioned earlier was also a proud moment for me. Everything about the new films has been so secretive and I’m happy to have played a part in finding those Episode IX crumbs.
Do you see yourself keeping up the Sleemo site in the next few years? Would you be interested in writing about Star Wars for other websites?
I haven’t thought that far ahead, to be honest. It’s hard to imagine how I’ll feel after the sequel trilogy is over because it’s literally all I’ve been thinking about for the past four years! It’s going to be tough to say goodbye, but as long as the stories and characters in this universe continue to light up my imagination, I will go on to post about them.
Writing for other websites? That’s something I’ve never considered before. I don’t really see myself as a writer, perhaps because I just do this all in my free time, but I would be open to it!
What Star Wars projects are you the most interested in that are coming up in the next year or two?
Aside from Episode IX, I’m most looking forward to season 2 of Star Wars Resistance. I’m also very curious about Rian Johnson’s new trilogy and I can’t wait to hear more about it.
What were the highlights of your first Star Wars Celebration?
Watching the Episode IX panel was unreal, but I then got a chance to see cast members like John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, Oscar Isaac, and Naomi Ackie up close on the Star Wars Show Live! Stage which I’d never dreamed would ever happen. I don’t know that many fans in real life and I went to the convention by myself, so being part of that huge crowd and getting to cheer for Kelly and (later that weekend) Ahmed Best was the best feeling.
I was so moved by all of the amazing people I met there, especially those Reylo fans who first knew me from Tumblr. It was a privilege to spend five chilly days in Chicago with everyone, whether it was in panels, meetups, or brief moments in the exhibit hall. I entered the Star Wars fandom feeling a bit lost and alienated, but at Celebration I felt like I belonged. My only regret is that I didn’t have more time to hang out with everyone, so I hope this won’t be the last time I get to attend!