Kai Charles is a Star Wars fan, book blogger, and a part of the podcast team at Fangirls Going Rogue. She answered a few questions via email for this interview.
What was your introduction to Star Wars?
I’m a summer of ’77 kid. I saw the logo in the newspaper and went to the neighborhood theater with two friends. I went back the next day and almost every day until school started.
Who are some of your favorite Star Wars characters and have those favorites changed over time?
It has always been Leia. I was a passionate outspoken kid. I knew how to blend in for self-preservation so Leia was a revelation to me. She didn’t apologize for taking charge or having an opinion. She lived through difficult things but was able to keep her eyes on the next step, the next choice. She never denied her emotions but she also never let them rule her. I connected instantly to that as an odd kid in a family that had its dysfunctions. I also have a great love for Rey & Finn as well as Val and Jannah.
Some fans only watch the films or favor the books or animation. How would you describe the Star Wars content you consume?
I consume everything except for video games. There is something fundamental about Star Wars that stirs the imagination. There was also a lot of waiting before films, so comics, books, trading cards, and toys were the only tools the ’77 kids had. The books and toys also were the way that I could add myself into the story.
Tell me about your fandom. When did you first start sharing your love of Star Wars with other fans in-person and online?
I really didn’t share my fandom until I was around 18. My family didn’t get my love of Star Wars but my parents didn’t hesitate to buy me anything I asked for from the toy store. When I got into comics in high school I became a part of the local fandom community but nothing specifically Star Wars related. It wasn’t until Celebration Anaheim in 2015 that I connected in person with lots of fans and began connecting with the star Wars community online.
I know you have worked with the SWAG crew at Star Wars Celebration. Can you explain what this organization is, what your involvement has been, how people can find them, and why you enjoy being a part of this group?
I discovered SWAG crew through one of Star Wars Facebook groups. I was really intrigued by the idea of swag but didn’t think it was for me because I’m not an artist or really good with graphic design. But the group was so welcoming and encouraging that I made my very first swag in 2017, and again in 2019. The organization quickly aligned themselves with several charities and has continued to grow. The fun part of giving swag is the initial shock on people’s faces when they try to comprehend getting something for free. I especially love giving swag to children because they have no problem taking things 🙂
Similar question for the Lining Up crew who I also feel like I’ve heard you talk about on Twitter.
Lining up.net is a group that I discovered after meeting Richard and Sarah Woloski of Skywalking Through Neverland. They had Ric Perelta on their show and he was talking about the line returning to The TCL Chinese Theater for The Force Awakens. Member of the line included attendees of the first line for Episode I over 20 years ago. Through a collaboration with the Theater we were able to camp out in the courtyard of the theater and raise money for the Starlight Foundation. The line members quickly became family and we have seen all the prequel films together. We also have been able to see the premiere of The Force Awakens and The Rise Of Skywalker because of Disney’s generosity.
You have recently joined the Fangirls Going Rogue podcast. I’d love to know what you’re doing with them and know why they were a podcast you wanted to be a part of?
I found FGGR through Sarah and quickly became fans of their show. When I first met them all together I told them that they were the Star Wars girlfriends I always dreamed of but never had. I love that first and foremost FGGR has a platform devoted to exploring the female perspective in fandom. Each member has a different entry point to the saga and thus a different perspective that is fun to explore. I was surprised and honored to join the team. For now, I’m working on the social media platforms and eventually convention coverage along with some podcast appearances. I love that FGGR is a safe fandom space. They focus on a positive approach but aren’t afraid to have deeper discussions about mental health issues and female representation in fandom.
What are you looking forward to as far as announced Star Wars projects in the next few years?
It’s an interesting place to be right now as a Star Wars fan. I really felt in the months leading up to TROS that I was just happy the sequel trilogy was ending. The conflicts among fandom since The Last Jedi have been tiring and a challenge for me to always stay positive about. I’m excited for things that step outside the box of what has come before. Things like The High Republic, or new films and TV shows exploring new time periods. I love the work in recent comics but I really am looking forward to stories set after Return of The Jedi.
If you could have a meeting with Kathleen Kennedy what would you like to ask her or tell her?
I admire Kathleen’s perseverance and the knowledge she brings from being apart of some of the biggest blockbusters of all time. I would ask her to mentor more female creatives. She has a keen eye but she gravitates to the type of creatives that she worked with in her formative years. I would love to see what creative teams she would come up with if she challenged herself to only choose women and POC.
What are some Star Wars sites/podcasts/journalists you would recommend to others?
Of Course FGGR, I also am consistently impressed with the production standards of Skywalking Through Neverland. Also Full of Sith, Newcomers: Star Wars, The Soundtrack Show, SyFy Fangirls: Strong Female Characters & Geeky Bubble.
Do you have any projects you can share info about?
I’m an independent book reviewer so I’m always posting content on my blog Fiction State of Mind. Right now I’m reading a lot of EU comics and novels. I also have been contributing regularly to #MentalHealthMonday Sandra of FGGR has created a wonderful graphic we use every week to give people a space to talk about how they are feeling. In general, I’ve noticed my voice in fandom has shifted to also taking action on imbalances I witness. Growing up I just accepted things the way they were whereas now I have a more questioning nature towards the products and fandoms I support. If I don’t see growth in representation I’m driven to explore why and even consider moving on from something that doesn’t match my needs.
You can find Kai on Twitter @YogiKai.