Happy Birthday Matt Cohen!

This is birthday month for the OG’s of the Supernatural family – and today is Mr. Matt Cohen’s turn! We first met Matt shortly after he appeared on the show as young John Winchester, and were enamored of him from his very first con. He didn’t know how conventions worked and assuming there were thick boundaries between the actors and the fans just wasn’t on his radar, so Matt wanted to hug each and every person he met that weekend. His down to earth personality and infectious genuine joy made him a fan favorite from day one. The first time we sat down to chat with him, we realized there was so much more to Matt Cohen than a pretty face or an incredible physique. (Not that we didn’t already know that)

The first time Matt shared the stage with Richard Speight Jr, his frenetic energy and rapid fire improv style were a bit of a contrast with Matt’s more laid back approach. We watched as Matt and Rich found their rhythm together, both in panels (later joined by Rob Benedict for the now iconic R2M) and in Friday night karaoke. Matt and Rich together spearheaded the evolution of karaoke into a few fans taking the mic in a hotel bar to a crowd of fans singing along and batting a hundred balloons in the air as actors and fans share the mic onstage. It’s been a wild ride, and one that Matt has been an integral part of.

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Happy Birthday Jason Manns!

 

One of the best things about being a fan is that it broadens your world in ways you never expected. I fell I love with a television show and ended up with so much beautiful music in my life. I’m sure that doesn’t happen with every TV show, but Supernatural just happens to star a lot of very musically talented people, and those people know some wonderful professional musicians. Jason Manns is one of them.

Jason has been an integral part of the Supernatural conventions since early on. At the first Supernatural cons, the musical guest was usually Jason Manns or Steve Carlson, which means these conventions have had good music since almost day one. Both Jensen and Jared are huge music lovers, which means many of their friends are musicians – that explains Manns and Carlson at cons, as well as Brian Buckley Band and that incredible duet by Ackles and Corey Taylor. It also explains JJ from Kaleo at Jared’s house yesterday.

One of the very first videos I ever saw of Mr. Ackles after I embraced being a fangirl was one with Jason Manns – the old Youtube classic of Jensen singing “Crazy Love” at some lucky person’s wedding. I immediately ran out and tried to find out everything I could about Jason (and may have watched that Youtube video approximately 6 million times).  Then Jason gifted us again by performing Crazy Love at one of the first Supernatural conventions, Asylum in the UK – and pulling Jensen up for a duet. Once again, video watched 6 million times. Here’s a little trip down memory lane…

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Happy Ten Years on Supernatural, Misha Collins!

 

It was ten years ago that the character of Castiel was introduced on Supernatural, in one of the most dramatic and powerful entrances of any fictional character ever. We were writing Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls at the time, and sat down with brand new guest actor Misha Collins shortly after Lazarus Rising aired, so I thought I’d share a few excerpts form that chat in honor of the 10th anniversary.

Misha had just finished filming and changed into faded vintage jeans and a tee shirt, catching us off guard because he didn’t look much like the trench-coated angel we’d seen onscreen! He was so new to the show and the whole idea of fandom that he didn’t really know what fan reaction to his character was, so asked us.

Lynn and Kathy: Fans don’t always take well to new characters on the show, but they did to your character.

Misha: Oh I see. You hated the character.

Lynn: Did I say that??

Clearly Misha’s personality shone through even in the first ten minutes of chatting with him. Luckily.

Misha: (laughing) I think part of it is that it was such an interesting scene. The character is a super cool character and it was a super cool introduction to the character.

Lynn: Talk about dramatic!

Misha: Just the way it was built up, I think that made people receptive to Castiel.

Lynn: I always wonder if you can feel in the moment when some of your scenes are going to be very good and some of your interactions very powerful.

Misha: No, never. I’m not very good at telling. I think the things that are horrible actually turn out to be the best.

Lynn: Luckily you’re not editing the show.

Misha: You’re right.

Kathy: The first online community dedicated to Castiel was set up 42 minutes after the episode aired.

Misha: Why do you think it took so long? Maybe the servers were down or something…

I’m not sure we ever laughed so much in an interview as we did that first chat with Misha. We talked about his previous roles on Nip/Tuck and 24 and Charmed, about his childhood and how that led him to acting, about his own lack of experience with being a fan. And he asked us as many questions as we asked him – about conventions (he was about to do his first one), about fandom, about shipping, you name it! This was an entirely new experience for Misha, and he was in the very beginning stages of processing it and figuring out what it all meant.

Misha: I had no idea what I was walking into when I went in to audition for this show.

Lynn: What did make you audition?

Misha: The desire for a job. I think I didn’t even realize until after the audition that it was for a regular, I thought it was a guest star.   My manager told me I wasn’t paying attention.  It was a demon that I was auditioning  for – Kripke didn’t want that to get out to fandom.

Lynn: I love Eric, he’s always messing with the names.

Misha: He gave me a little direction, after I did the demon version once, he gave me a little direction to change it to be an angel, and he told me they hadn’t been down on earth for two thousand years  so there would be a quality of just looking at humans as though they were strange alien beings.

Lynn: You do that so well. I’m a psychologist, I tend to read people’s non verbals. And there’s this subtle sort of little twist you do, like regarding someone a little too long and sort of speaking a little more slowly, because you’re not sure of your footing. It’s subtle, but it’s very there.

Misha: Cool. It’s fun to play with that.

The origin story of the famous Cas head tilt!  And the rest is history.

A lot of our first chat with Misha is the last chapter in Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls – he was pleased when we told him he has “the last word” in the book. A few years later, when we were putting together our next book, this one of contributed essays on Supernatural in Fan Phenomena Supernatural, we asked Misha if he wanted to write a chapter. He did – and it’s still one of my favorite essays ever. It’s surprisingly sincere and personal, but it’s also funny as hell. Maybe none of that is surprising, actually.

From Fan Phenomena Supernatural, here’s what Misha had to say about being cast on Supernatural, including his experience watching his very first episode, Lazarus Rising, air ten years ago:

Fandom and its many fascinating aspects have, for the most part, blindsided me. Not only did I not see it coming, but previously, I was only peripherally aware of its existence. For me, discovering this fandom was pretty much like getting kidnapped by a dragon. I didn’t expect being inducted into this world to be anywhere near as strange, wonderful or overwhelming as it has been. I didn’t expect any of it. I remember watching the season premiere of Supernatural Season 4 – the episode in which my character was introduced – with the producers and writers at a little screening party at producer McG’s offices in West Hollywood. Sera Gamble, a writer and producer on the show, was standing next to me as we watched. When my character came on-screen, she leaned over and whispered to me, ‘Your life is about to change.’ I thought, ‘That is a truly arrogant thing for a producer of a CW television show to say. I’ve been on plenty of television shows. My life is going to stay exactly the same, I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ Well, Sera,  I think I owe you an apology for that thought.

I’m sure Sera understood – but she was totally right!

Misha also wrote a chapter for Family Don’t End With Blood, from his perspective almost a decade later. A portion of the proceeds from every sale benefits Random Acts, the charity he founded shortly after this amazing journey began – and one of the ways in which Misha has been changing the world ever since he realized he had a platform that allowed him to do so, thanks to playing Castiel on this little but long-lasting television show.

Happy 10 years on Supernatural, Misha!

–Lynn

You can check out Misha’s chapters and all

our books on Supernatural at the links on

the home page!

 

 

 

 

Family Don’t End With Blood and National Suicide Prevention Week

 

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. Nearly 800,000 people die by suicide in the world each year, which is roughly one death every 40 seconds. One of the biggest impediments to people getting help is reluctance to admit to struggling with depression and feeling like you can’t go on. The stigma around talking about depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts prevents people from reaching out and getting the help they need – it is crucial that we challenge this stigma and let everyone know that it’s okay to talk about how you feel, without judgment or criticism or censure.

As a psychologist, I’ve worked to eliminate that stigma and help people individually to find a reason and a way to keep living. One of the reasons we put together the book Family Don’t End With Blood was to challenge the taboos around talking about depression and suicide on a broader level – in a way that would be powerful to readers. Sometimes we think of “celebrities” as immune from those difficulties, so Family Don’t End With Blood is written by the actors from the television show Supernatural.  The actors who wrote chapters were all courageous in refusing to allow stigma to silence them. They wrote, with candor and emotion, about their struggles with depression, anxiety and self doubt. They allowed readers into their worlds, into their darkest hours, so that anyone reading the book would know that they are truly not alone. That it’s okay to speak up and tell people how much you’re hurting, and it’s okay to ask for help and to accept it when it’s given.

Sometimes we also think, mistakenly, that people who are “like us” are nevertheless much happier or more successful or more loved or whatever; we don’t think that they’re struggling in the same way that we are. So Family Don’t End With Blood also has chapters written by fans, who are just like you and me. They too write with courage about fighting against depression, anxiety, addiction, the feeling of not being “enough” – and of how they managed to keep going even when it was very hard.

Jared Padalecki’s chapter stands out for his willingness to speak openly about the time he almost gave up – and how he was able to let his friends and family and fans give him the support that allowed him to Always Keep Fighting. We hope, and all of us who wrote the book hope, that his words and his courage inspire others who are having trouble not giving up to keep fighting too. That everyone who reads his chapter feels validated in their own struggle and encouraged to continue on.

There are organizations out there that are doing amazing work trying to change the world. That’s why every copy of Family Don’t End With Blood benefits Random Acts and Attitudes in Reverse, an organization that aims to educate about depression, to erase the stigma around mental health, and to prevent suicide.

For his birthday this year, in appreciation of Jared’s chapter and his AKF campaign, we also decided to do a fundraiser in Jared’s honor. He asked that the proceeds go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Most of the actors who wrote Family Don’t End With Blood signed a copy, and a very generous fan contributed almost $2000 to purchase it. We also sold a few tee shirts designed by Angie Siketa, and we were honored to donate all the proceeds to the Hotline, to support the important work they do providing a lifeline to those who need it.

It’s important to remember that we all need to hear encouraging and supportive messages from time to time. We all need someone who cares about us to have our back and to lift us up when we’re in danger of falling and carry us until we find our footing again.

So we wanted to give something to Jared too. Thank you to everyone who wrote him a heartfelt message about what his #AKF campaigns and his chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood have meant to you. We gave those messages to him in book form at the last con (with beautiful cover design by Cris Griffin, who also did the gorgeous cover art for Family Don’t End With Blood). I hope your words encourage him just as his words have encouraged so many of us.

You can donate to any of the organizations below that are working to provide help to anyone dealing with depression and to prevent suicide, or give a copy of Family Don’t End With Blood to someone who needs to know that they aren’t alone, and that even lead actors on a successful television show struggle with depression and anxiety and need support sometimes.

Ask about it. Talk about it. Make it okay to talk about ALL emotions openly and honestly, and to ask for help when you need it.

And #AKF.

Jared and Jensen show each other how it felt to read the other’s chapter

There’s help if you or someone else needs it. Don’t be afraid to reach out for it.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Attitudes in Reverse: AttitudesInReverse.org

To Write Love On Her Arms: twloha.com

IMAlive: IMalive.org

Random Acts Crisis Network: randomacts.org/crisis-support-network/

— Lynn and Kim

Family Don’t End With Blood is

available at the links on the home page

 

Supernatural Convention Comes to Denver!

 

 

I had no intention of going to the Supernatural convention in Denver, but somehow I ended up there anyway. I’d missed the previous Denver convention so had never had a chance to bring Family Don’t End With Blood to Colorado, and that alone was enough to convince me to go. Add to that the fact that I love Colorado, where my aunt and uncle lived for much of my childhood, so I have wonderful memories from all over the state. And I wanted to meet new SPNFamily member and friend Kaci Marie Lister, who I ‘met’ virtually when I was in Austin for Supernatural Day. So off I went to beautiful Colorado!

The west coast fires had created so much ash in the atmosphere that it mostly obscured my view of the mountains, which was a shame. But the weather was beautiful and I was amongst my SPNFamily, so that more than made up for the lack of mountain views. I met up with Kaci and her friend for dinner and to do a little vlogging, since she was doing a vlog of their exploits at the con, and I caught up with my on-the-road buddies Liz and Kristen for pizza, who I miss tons when we don’t get to hang out for a period of time. It was wonderful to be able to spread the word about Family Don’t End With Blood to so many people who hadn’t heard about it too. This was a repeated conversation.

Me to someone perusing the table with a quizzical expression: Have you heard about the book? This is the one that the Supernatural actors wrote chapters for…

Person: The Supernatural actors wrote a book??????!!!!!

Thanks to everyone who came back to the table the next day to tell me that I ruined their sleep because they couldn’t stop reading it. Blame all those actors and fans who wrote the compelling chapters!

Friday kicked off with Rich and Rob and Louden Swain, and a bunch of non G rated banter, including a song about Misha, Rob’s b-hole and you, and something about microphone condoms, which prompted me to tweet with #OffTheRailsAlready. And it was only Friday!

I really loved the ballroom for Denver, which was smaller than the giant rooms I’m used to – it brought back memories of the early cons and felt cozy and a little more intimate (as intimate as you can get in a ballroom full of people…)  Richard looked around at the giant stage banners that are always in the room – this room was smaller, so the banners were closer.

Richard: Why are the stage banners staring at us? Jared is undressing us all with his eyes, and Jensen is like, why are you all undressing??

Richard puts his foot on the thing

Denver was also notable for being the first (of many?) cons during which a fan asked pretty much every guest to take part in a giant game of Mad Libs that spanned the whole con. I got a kick out of watching people’s faces when they got the dreaded “adverb”. lol

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