04.23.12 // GeekGirlCon ’12 Panelist Spotlight: Teal Sherer
As we draw closer to GeekGirlCon 2012 (August 11 and 12, get your passes now!), we will be previewing some of the guests and panelists attending and participating in our weekend festivities. We won’t share all the juicy details, just enough to ensure you HAVE to come to GeekGirlCon 2012.
Today, the spotlight is on Teal Sherer, an actress who plays the character Venom in The Guild and who also has her own web series coming out this summer, My Gimpy Life. Teal is going to be participating on a panel during GeekGirlCon 2012 titled “The Last ‘Outsider’ in Popular Culture – Disability,” moderated by Day Al-Mohamed.
More than 1 in 10 Americans live with an apparent disability. But this isn’t reflected in books, comics, films, or television. In fact, did you know that less than 2 percent of TV show characters display a disability, and only 0.5 percent have speaking roles? Day, Teal, and other panelists (including Gail Simone!) will examine the reluctance to include characters with disabilities, as well as some of the common myths, stereotypes, and controversies using examples from popular and geek culture, personal experiences in the industry, and discourse with audience members.
You won’t want to miss this panel, or the great answers Teal shared with GeekGirlCon PR Manager Susie Rantz. Enjoy!
When did you first get involved with acting?
In college at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. I had to take a theatre class as part of my Communications major and fell madly in love thanks to my amazing professor Troy Dwyer. Troy cast me in my first play Federico García Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba. I played one of the daughters, Amelia. Because it was a period piece I had to use an antique wheelchair which was pretty cool.
What is your favorite thing about acting?
The diversity of it. You get to play characters that have varying perspectives and life experiences. You also have permission to say and do things that you normally wouldn’t. That’s one of the things I loved about playing “Venom” in The Guild. In real life I’d never get away with saying the things Venom says (well at least if I wanted any friends).
How did My Gimpy Life come about?
I became disabled when I was 14 years old. I was in a car accident, broke my back and suffered from a spinal cord injury. Once of the biggest adjustments I had to make (besides the obvious physical one) was the way society now interacted with me. People started feeling sorry for me, patting me on the head, telling me they’d pray for me, etc…. It was very frustrating but at the same time very comical. I felt like my perspective was unique and I wanted to give it a voice.
I was inspired to go the web series route because of my involvement in Felicia Day’s The Guild. I told Felicia my idea and she was very supportive and suggested I collaborate with a great comedy writer named Gabe Uhr. We immediately hit it off and developed and shot a pilot. After that we pursued funding for a while (almost a year) and just when I was starting to get a little frustrated our “Knight in Shining Armor” came along, Steven Dengler. Steven and his company Dracogen are sponsoring our first season. Dracogen also invests in a lot of other interesting artistic (Fallout: Nuka Break and the second season of The Jeff Lewis 5 Minute Comedy Hour) and charitable endeavors.
How much of what we’ll see in the show comes from your own life?
Most of what you’ll see in My Gimpy Life is from my own life or was at least inspired by it. Gabe Uhr and I start with my real life stories, mix and match them and slightly embellish them.
There are some hilarious bits in your trailer. Are you more comfortable in comedy or do you enjoy a range of acting challenges?
I enjoy a range and I’d actually say I’m more comfortable in dramatic roles. But there’s a fine line between comedy and drama and most of the actors I look up to (Bryan Cranston for example) do both really well.
(Note from Susie: Check out the trailer below!)
What are some of your long-term goals for My Gimpy Life?
First and foremost, I’m anxious to find an audience for our show. I also want to film more seasons and have it developed into a TV show. Hopefully it will create more opportunities for me as an actor as well (for example I’d like to be on The Big Bang Theory playing a character that works in the comic book store – wink, wink). And I hope Louis C.K. sees it, loves it, and calls me.
Where can people find and watch the episodes? And when does My Gimpy Life come out?
My Gimpy Life will be premiere this June on our YouTube channel. They’ll be five episodes in Season 1 and we plan to release one a week. We’ll also be releasing behind the scenes and other bonus material. Please subscribe to our YouTube Channel and “Like” our Facebook page and we’ll keep everyone updated.
My Gimpy Life isn’t your only project—far from it! Can you talk about some of the other projects you’re currently working on?
I’m guest starring in an episode of The Jeff Lewis 5 Minute Comedy Hour Season 2 which I’m really excited about. Getting to act with Jeff Lewis is pure joy – he’s so talented and funnier than crap. I also just shot a black and white short film inspired by the visionary writings of horror author H.P. Lovecraft called Transcendent. I play Mother Hydra and she’s spooky.
What message are you hoping to share at GeekGirlCon 2012?
I want to share how important it is to include characters with disabilities (and actors with disabilities) in all forms of entertainment. After I became disabled I felt so alone and awkward because I didn’t have anyone in my situation to look up to. If you don’t see yourself represented in the media you basically feel invisible. And having a disability doesn’t mean you’re broken and need to be fixed. We’re fine just the way we are.
And, finally, because we are GeekGirlCon: what are some of the things you are “geeking out” about right now?
Game of Thrones Season 2, Battlestar Galactica (I know! I’m so late to the party), and Felicia Day, Kim Evey, and Sheri Bryant’s new YouTube channel Geek & Sundry. I’m also catching up on the New 52 Batgirl comics. Though I miss Barbara Gordon as Oracle, I’m really enjoying them. I’m a huge fan of Gail Simone. She actually tweeted me after seeing my “Oracle Addresses the DC Comics reboot” video to tell me she liked it. She’s one classy lady. She took a lot of heat over the Barbara Gordon being healed controversy and she handled it beautifully. I can’t wait to meet her in person and am excited we’ll be on a panel or two together at GeekGirlCon.
Thanks for sharing, Teal! We can’t wait to have you at GeekGirlCon 2012!