Convention season will be kicking in shortly and, if you haven’t already, you’ll soon be seeing lots of announcements about which guests will be attending which shows. Some will undoubtedly have long lines of autograph-seekers, and others will seek to stem those very lines by charging for autographs or photo opportunities.  These guests, by and large, are professionals. They make their money doing their thing, whether that’s acting, writing, drawing, singing… People like what they do and become fans of them.

What’s only now just starting to get talked about, though, is that many of these professionals are fans themselves! Watch and listen to John Boyega when he’s talking about Star Wars, for example—he frequently comes across as more excited than anyone else in the room, even if he’s in a convention hall full of Star Wars fans! It’s been pointed out that a young Peter Capaldi had written fan letters about Doctor Who to Radio Times, and submitted articles to fanzines like the Doctor Who International Fan Club magazine.

Much of this has to do with a greater ability for individuals to pursue their passions as a career. The breadth of media that’s become available over the past few decades increasingly means that there are more opportunities for people wishing to work on/with their favorite characters and stories in some capacity.

Ashley Eckstein is an example that gets trotted out fairly regularly, but in part because she’s had a particularly fascinating take on fandom. She’s perhaps best known as the voice of Ahsoka Tano in various Star Wars shows and games. But she was already a fan before that, and she was able to parlay her notoriety and connections not long after Star Wars: The Clone Wars began into a geek-themed fashion line aimed at women. Women like her who were not seeing clothing designed for them, but still allowing them to sport their love of science fiction, comic books, and whatever else they enjoy. Fans, not surprisingly, loved what she was doing and she’s now expanding to publish science fiction novels by women, a historically under-represented faction in the genre.

While Eckstein continues to pursue acting jobs that speak to her own fannish enthusiasm (appearing last year in Ultimate Spider-Man and currently in Star Wars Rebels) she’s going further than many other fans by also trying to actively open the door for others. She encourages fandom in others with her clothing line, and empowers still others by publishing heretofore overlooked authors.

But it’s all based out of her own fannishness. Could she have done this simply as a series of opportunities that presented themselves? Possibly. But it’s not the type of thing you saw science fiction actors doing before they were able to really embrace their own fan passions!

About The Author

Senior Editor, Comics & Lifestyle

Sean Kleefeld is an independent researcher whose work has been used by the likes of Marvel Entertainment, Titan Books and 20th Century Fox. He writes the ongoing “Incidental Iconography” column for The Jack Kirby Collector and had weekly “Kleefeld on Webcomics” and "Kleefeld's Fanthropology" columns for MTV Geek. He’s also contributed to Alter Ego, Back Issue and Comic Book Resources. Kleefeld’s 2009 book, Comic Book Fanthropology, addresses the questions of who and what comic fans are. He blogs daily at