Who is talented, creative, and nerdy all over? Why the Dweeb Darlings of course! Meet fellow Ms. In The Biz writers Heidi Cox and Stephanie Pressman. Their most recent project, Stalking LeVar is a comedic series about a woman in search of a very important person. These talented multi-hyphenates don’t just act: Heidi writes, produces, and even co-created Stalking LeVar and the production company (with Megan Green), while Stephanie co-produces and manages marketing/PR. I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting down with two of these lovely ladies to talk about the premiere of Season 2, their backgrounds, and why a creative community is so important!
(PART 1 OF 2)
How were you introduced to acting and filmmaking?
S: My mother was an actor and model, I am the youngest of three, so my first acting roles were when I was still an infant. I’ve just always done it, but on the production side it came out of necessity and the want to learn more. I’d be on set and want to know what everybody else’s positions were and what they did… I was so intrigued by it! Eventually I became a producer, because I was frustrated by all the excuses everyone had. I knew so many amazing people who always had these amazing projects that they talked about, but they had excuses for why they couldn’t do them. So when I had a small amount of money, I invested in a filmmaking kit so that would never be an obstacle for me.
H: As a child, I knew I always wanted to express myself in some way, for whatever reasons, and I always had this fire in me. The way I grew up made me sort of press down that stuff and I needed a good outlet for it. I didn’t get to do the child acting thing though, because I was really shy and uncertain of myself, and my family didn’t know how to get me into it. I finally started pursuing theatre opportunities in high school, and did my first film when I was out of college. When I got to LA I just started learning stuff by being on sets and working for a production company. The idea of making my own content became easier and easier for me once I realized how much I actually knew and what resources were available to me.
S: We talk about it sometimes on the #SPARK panel (where we tour with a lot of talented female creators) that in LA most people in this business use the “c word” (competition) all the time. We try to break down that myth of competition and recognizing that we are each our own person and nobody is competing with each other. You have to think in terms of collaboration, becoming a community of professionals that you can turn to and work with.
H: If I know my friends are working on something, I will ask them how we can help in any way, because I want to build the community!
S: I think that something we’ve been learning is that whenever we’re inspired or impressed by someone’s work, we’ll tell them how much we love it and ask if there’s any way we can be involved in the future. We’re taught not to ask for what we want, but it’s been very beneficial for all of us who do, because we’re coming from a place of collaboration, not simply, “give me a job”.
#SPARK: Tell us about this panel… How long has it been around and what has been your experience touring?
S: It’s been around for about 2 ½ years?
H: A while back there was an opportunity to submit a panel to Comic Con, so we had a meeting and kind of came up with a platform. We didn’t want to do another “nerd girl” panel, since there are so many of those already, so we were really trying to think of something that would benefit others. We eventually came up with a panel idea that would include our creative female friends, and how they could give advice on executing creative ideas!
S: The #SPARK panel is not gender-specific, even though the panel is made up of all women. We wanted them to be role models for younger girls and the response we had at the beginning was amazing! We received amazing feedback… from a lot of men! They kept saying how inspired they were by the panel, it was so surprising.
H: We stumbled across a big audience right off the bat when Comic Con put us in-between two huge panels last minute to fill a vacant space, so we ended up having really great response right off the bat and it’s just built since then!
S: One of my favorite stories is of a girl who attended our first panel, and as she was leaving she started her very own vlog channel right then and there! During the panel we had talked about just needing to START your creative ideas, even if it’s something small. Honestly, the first couple of tries are probably not going to be everything you expect them to be. But you’re never going to become better unless you start. She’s still doing the vlog to this day!
H: When we shot episode one of Stalking LeVar and came back to look at the footage, we were disappointed. There were so many problems, probably because we were unorganized. A few people suggested we reshoot it, and after some resistance we eventually did, and the result was great. We’ve just kept working from there!
Why did you start the production company and how did you come up with the idea for Stalking LeVar?
H: I heard LeVar Burton on the Nerdist podcast say, “The thing about Geordi La Forge is he never gets the girl!” And I was like, it’s gotta be LeVar! The ideas just started coming. I called my long-time friend Megan Green and asked her to help me write and create this, and later reached out to Stephanie for production resources. I later cast her in the role of Susan (in which she is brilliant and hilarious), and she became a producer and marketing manager for the show shortly after.
Did Dweeb Darlings start with the series?
H: Yes. Megan Green and I were trying to come up with a cute name that wasn’t too generic like, “Nerd Girls” or something. We played around with a lot of names until one of us just blurted out, “Dweeb Darlings!”. We immediately secured all the handles as soon as we decided.
S: The minute you have an idea for a series, go out there and secure all the social media handles so NOBODY can steal it from you. That’s what we did with Fashionably Nerdy, my website for geek chic fashion.
…TO BE CONTINUED (Part 2/2 coming soon!)
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