FANgirl Interview with Shea Standefer

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Interviews by Fans
Title: FANgirl Interview with Shea Standefer
Interviewer: FANgirl Blog
Interviewee: Shea Standefer
Date(s): 2012?
Medium: online
Fandom(s): Star Wars
External Links: Shea Standefer – FANgirl Blog, Archived version
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FANgirl Interview with Shea Standefer is a 2012 interview with a Star Wars cosplay fan.


Everyone has their “how I fell in love with Star Wars” story. What’s yours?

I’m sure my story will resonate with many a Star Wars fan, as it is not particularly unique. I had seen previews for the 1997 re-release of the Star Wars trilogy; I told my dad that I had never seen the movies before and that I thought it would be fun to go. Little did I know, I would leave the theater a changed person. At twelve years old I was on the cusp of leaving childhood and entering adolescence, losing my excitement and wonder for all things imaginary and developing a new-found sense of cynicism. However, Star Wars captivated my heart like no other movie I had ever seen before or since. Suddenly I was watching an old VHS of Star Wars on repeat, reading every piece of Star Wars literature I could get my hands on, and inventing fantastical Jedi adventures in my head. I truly have Star Wars to thank for allowing me to retain a wonderful piece of my childhood.

How do you decide which characters you want to cosplay?

There are several factors that go into deciding which characters I want to cosplay. Most often I choose a design because I love the character so much. This often means that I will make simple costumes from obscure sources that no one recognizes, but I don’t care! If I love the character enough, just the idea of being the character is enough for me to want to create the costume. Other times a design is so elaborate and appealing to me that I will want to make it even if I know nothing about the character. This can be a slippery slope, though, because it is harder to stay motivated to work on a costume if it is a character you are not passionate about. If you hit a wall and feel like you can’t go any further, where do you look for inspiration if you have no personal investment in the character?

Ideally I try to find a balance between a character that I love, is relevant to a community and/or will engage fans, and has an appealing design that will challenge my skills as a costume-maker. A great example of this is the Jaina Solo Stealth-X design for the Suvudu article, drawn by Frank-Joseph Frelier – it fit all of the above criteria perfectly!

In 1977, when I was eight years old, Princess Leia captured my imagination and I asked my mother to make her iconic white dress for me to wear for Halloween. Her confident style inspired me as a young women. We had a chance to talk about what drew you to the character of Jaina Solo. Can you share what you related to me?

When I first became interested in Star Wars, I couldn’t decide who was my favorite character – Han Solo or Princess Leia. One was a hot-shot pilot, the other a beautiful and confident royal. Then I was introduced to the Expanded Universe, and the character of Jaina Solo was the answer I was looking for. Only daughter of Han and Leia? Force-sensitive Jedi-in-training? Gifted pilot to boot?! I had to know everything there was to know about her.

You were the one who summed it up perfectly at CelebrationJaina Solo is my Harry Potter. Her character is unique in that, unlike a character in a standalone novel, her entire life unfolds over the span of many books. Since our ages corresponded closely during book releases, I found myself identifying with her constantly. There is a chapter in The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime called “Running the Belt,” and I will never forget reading it as long as I live. Jaina defies Leia and takes her turn on the Belt, and where her brothers Anakin and Jacen failed, Jaina shined spectacularly. As someone who also has two brothers, going against my parents wishes to prove I could do anything my brothers could do – and do it better – was just one of many instances where I felt Jaina and I were kindred spirits. When real life would knock me down and kick me in the teeth – being a moody teenager, falling in and out of love, the death of someone close – time and time again I would bury myself in my Star Wars novels and be comforted by the fact that Jaina was going through the same thing I was.

It is powerful to think that a fictional character can influence the development of an individual, but that is precisely the case with me – I have always looked up to Jaina and strived to be like her. She is my alter-ego in a lot of ways, and while I am keenly aware of the line between fantasy and reality, I often look at Jaina as an old friend who I can check in on now and again and see how she is doing.

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