12 July 2014

Meeting Jennifer Morrison (and Yvette Nicole Brown - a lovely surprise!!) plus the fun of OZCC Melbourne '14.

What do you imagine when you think about meeting the person who inspires you to believe your dreams are possible? Do you create the perfect moment? A situation you think will never happen but you always have a glimmer of hope that someday it will? Well, this is how I felt about one of my favourite creative people - especially of more recent times. I just never truly believed I would actually be lucky enough to get to meet her and thank her in person. I hoped for it a real lot though. Life surprises and thank goodness it delivers.

Read on to find out what it meant to me that Jennifer just happened to be a late guest announced for Oz Comic Con in Melbourne last weekend. Also, I was surprised by the generosity and kindness of another actress who appeared in Once Upon A Time and I must start watching Community late at night with my mum now! What an angel Yvette Nicole Brown is! That was the nicest surprise ever. Anyway, I hope you enjoy my writing. I feel like I say things better through words that are written. As this weekend was an emotional one - bear with me - I get off track but I think I make my point. Enjoy!


Being a second year university student I didn't jump to see Once Upon A Time immediately. I knew I'd be hooked if I did that. So, I waited until the pilot hit Australian television. Obviously, I immediately fell in love with all that was Once Upon A Time. I loved the Disney fairytale connection that made me feel 5 again. I loved the Vancouver backdrop, the cast, the writing (oh my, how I love that!) - you get the point, right? Wrong. At the heart of the show was something that resonated strongly with me. Something I, everyday, have pinning me to the ground and allowing me to believe that I can do anything I put my mind to. Once Upon A Time is a show about one underlying factor - hope. If you hope that something great is headed for you and use that hope to make things happen then they will. You're the only one who can do that, right? Wrong again. This is only part of how I see 'hope'. I see it as being something very precious in terms of how I live and strive to do my best - in the best way I know how.

I have idols because they are what gives me the hope that I too can be just like them one day. I too can do what I love and be proud of it. My idols might not be like yours but they are however still like any other - they inspire me that I can do exactly what they do. I can be anyone so long as I never give up hoping it's possible and do my best to achieve what it is I want to achieve.

Jennifer Morrison is one of those people for me. An idol. An inspiration. A role-model. And simply all round talented. After watching the pilot of Once Upon A Time I wasn't simply hooked - I was inspired. Although all the characters awakened hope in me there was one that stood out more than others. You guessed it - Jennifer Morrison's Emma Swan. How could the only non-fairytale character in a show that is inspired by so many well-known tales inspire me most in this show, you ask? Simple. Emma is proof that even in the midst of so many fairy tales and fairytale characters (cursed ones at first, albeit, but still!) hope is never lost. Hope just needs to be awakened from time to time. It never ever truly fades. In Once Upon A Time, Henry is that glimmer of hope for Emma. I love their relationship (but more on that another time!).

Back to the title of this blog! The weekend just past I met none other than Ms Swan herself. I don't think it will ever truly sink in but now that I have my own photographic proof I hope that it will soon!

I'll never forget the moment I found out about Jennifer being announced as a late (but totally awesome) inclusion to Melbourne's Oz Comic Con . I was on the bus to a football match and I was on the bus because our car conked it and we were waiting for our new one to arrive after two months of going without and busing, training, walking everywhere. It was exhausting. Anyway, I'm on my phone tweeting to unwind on my onward bus trip when suddenly BAM! I see a tweet from an Aussie OUAT twitter saying Jennifer was going to be at Comic Con.  Someone I had always hoped but never really believed I might even ever meet at all in my life was announced as a guest of a comic convention in my own country but on top of that, interstate and therefore tough without a car right? Wrong again. I was on my way to a train station I wanted to book my train tickets there and then but I was talked out of it by my mum who was with me at the time. I think mum sort of didn't want me to go but in the end knew I wouldn't be talked out of it. It was something I wanted  and I actually could do something as spontaneous since I'd been working and saving as much as I could. Also, conveniently enough, the event was being held in my mid-year break after finishing my first semester of my Master of Primary School Teaching at university. So it was my reward for surviving the semester and for being 90 credit points away from finishing university FOREVER.

I was about to book a trip to Melbourne in my uni break to see theatre but decided against it. You know that saying 'everything happens for a reason'? Well if I hadn't said no to going on that trip I wouldn't have been able to afford meeting Jen probably. It would've been too much for my poor old student self's bank account to handle.

I'm glad I made the ten hour each way trip on the train because as you'll soon read it was all worth it. And I mean that. I owe my idols a lot. They help me to be the best version of me. That's also a quote that is heavily embedded in Once Upon A Time's pilot by the way!

So I made the trip with a uni friend who hadn't watched Once Upon A Time but bought the DVDs while we were out shopping one day after a day of lectures at uni. She trusted my judgement that it was good and I hope she agrees that it is. We've really only watched a few eps together (on the train journey from Sydney's Central station and the night we got to Melbourne after 10 hours on a train so we kind of both fell asleep watching it - well I didn't, impossible for me to do that!). Anyway, she'd only just started watching the show yet agreed to come to comic con - something she didn't even know a thing about (like me last year before I came to the event for the first time with my mum to meet Keegan Connor Tracy and Raphael Sbarge (Once Upon A Time actors) and also Holly Marie Combs and Brian Krause from Charmed (a show I was crazy about in high school).

I loved comic con last year and had a ball. I had no idea what to expect and I met two beautiful people - identical twins - who I'd known online since 2009 through a forum for an Australian drama called City Homicide which was a fantastic show. These girls have also shared my love of Once Upon A Time in recent years which was just amazing as it is what finally got us to meet up in person. I even spoke to Keegan Connor Tracy with them at her autograph table which I'll never forget. I was so glad they were both going to be at OZCC again this year. Last year I was going through probably the toughest point in my life and I wouldn't have hid that as well without them. My Nan passed away earlier that year and I was about to begin my second university degree and was about to graduate from my undergraduate degree without my Nan there to witness it, sadly. I was a mess and terrified about starting a massive post-grad degree and those two girls and also another Oncer friend who now lives in Vancouver kept my mind in the present that day. Forever grateful to these girls - you know who you are.

Not only did I make friends last year but I also made plenty of great ones this year. Oncers from different parts of Australia which I just think is amazing because Australia always feels like such a huge place to me and, really, everyone I have ever known most of my life have all been from Sydney or New South Wales at least. Meeting all these people from interstate due to our love for various TV shows (particularly Once Upon A Time) has just made me feel less small and distant from people who love what I love in this world (if that makes sense).

Jennifer Morrison spoke to me (what?! Yep, I'm still in serious shock. It's like a dream. Doesn't feel like real life but I am going with it and I'm grateful for everything that this woman has unknowingly up until now done for me. Well I hope Jennifer realises that I owe a lot of happiness, confidence, hope, laughter and joy - as well as friendships to her talent on more than one project. I've seen way too many of her roles and hope to one day have seen them all. Hehe, there's a lot.).

Here's what happened post getting to where the event was held - at The Royal Exhibition Building next to Carlton Gardens just out of Melbourne's CBD...

So I got two autographs and two photos with Jen. One of each on both of the days. As well as going to a panel of hers on each day (which I will make a different blog as this will go on for a mile if I start mentioning panels, oh dear). The first time I met Jen (this will include little asides too, ugh, sorry) - this is how it went down:

I was scared, excited, talking really fast and not shutting up and just probably making all the excited Once Upon A Time fans in line with me really nervous... We had left our hotel when it was dark outside at around 6am I think and luckily it was only one tram ride away - a route I know well because I travel to Melbourne every 6 months or more. I love it and I have some amazing friends there now. Which is why I am kind of not too bummed it wasn't Sydney, my hometown, that Comic Con was on in. I love the Royal Exhibition Building's beauty too. It astounded me last year and did again this time around. Even though you feel like everything looks the same when you're trying to find where you saw Frozen plush toys... We walked to every corner almost before we found the things after walking past them and going "oh, we'll come back for those". My friend got Olaf and I got Sven. On our way through the city after buying those (on day 2) we had kids pointing at my friend holding her Olaf (as it was too big to put in any of our bags). Every 5 seconds someone would notice it and my friend joked "we should've started charging people to hold it". We had a great laugh about that, it was awesome. And even when I held him for a few minutes I got a child saying "Olaf" before almost being jammed in a train door which was not at all fun, Metro. Automatic train doors are the best thing, Melbournians, believe me!

Any who back to Jen. After waiting in line initially in the tent where all the General Admission ticket holders wait for, what, two and a half hours at least?! There was soooooo much fangirling, excited hugging, talking, selfie taking and overall a buzz of EXCITEMENT. Just wow. It was freezing too. Melbourne always is. But I was dressed sorta how Emma Swan is when I'm guessing it is unbearably cold for all of the cast while filming in Vancouver. I had one of the same style beanies I'd seen Emma wear which I found while looking for the grey one Emma wears. It was on sale so I got it and I'm glad I did. I wear it all the time at home. The other parts of my outfit were Emma's red jacket (mine has a hood and more on why I love the hood even more now soon!), denim jeans which I barely wear (but will now, again keep reading), brown thick-heeled cowboy boots (which I will probably never wear again, read on...), a House t-shirt  - pop art style with Hugh Laurie's face splattered on it under the jacket (I have worn that top to death and still will) and finally the key item that Emma Swan fans and I'm sure Jen would've noticed - Emma's swan necklace that Neal gave her! (I will be wearing it even more now, too).

The reason I made a big deal about whether I will or won't wear any of these things more is that I will never forget how amazing and perfect and, better than anything I could have dreamed up in my head, Jennifer Morrison's first words to me were - "You look great." I smiled so widely and was actually really touched by those words. That was one of the nicest compliments I have ever received about the way I look and I really felt it. If another dream happens to come true and you do get a chance to read this (so help you if you make it this far down the page - too much writing...) - thank you, truly. I'll never forget it. You made this girl's dream come true there and then.

I was actually a little self-conscious about that outfit and now I will probably wear all of those things at every opportunity (bar the boots) because, let's face it, someone I actually think dresses beautifully every time without fail and the way I would dream of dressing if I had lots of amazing people to dress me and help style me told me I looked great - wow! Your stylist, Ms Morrison, never ever gets it wrong, well I don't think so, anyway!

So after Jen told me I looked great (eek!) I said back "I'd pretty much given up all hope of ever meeting you." to which Jen then said, while putting her arms out to both side casually "well, here I am." I just smiled the widest smile and tried not to cry from glee. Honestly that was not something even my fangirl imagination would have come up with. Beyond perfect and something I will carry with me for quite some time I'm sure.

Then she posed for a picture with me (I love the photo too - she looks stunning and I must say since Jen said I looked great, I must've looked great!! :P) Then she told me to have a great day and I said I'd be back tomorrow and I think she said "Oh well I'll see you then?!" that was just me awkwardly leaving the vicinity thinking 'don't do anything to embarrass yourself in front of Jennifer Morrison, pleaaaaase.' There was also the thought 'don't cryyyyyyyy.' I just got outside and hung with one of the aforementioned twins who happened to be outside the booth (I remember which one too, and I think actually both were there as the other showed up - twins confuse me even though I can actually tell these two apart so well). And their lovely uni friend was there with them too, maybe two friends not sure. I had just met Jennifer Morrison after almost being at peace with the fact my few tweets from her over the past few years would have to do if I never meet her, cut me some slack. Anyway I'm pretty sure I leant on a nearby wall for support...

Speaking of support I will never wear the boots I wore meeting Jennifer on day one probably ever again as the second day I'm pretty sure they were probably the reason I dislocated my knee. It hurt. And I screamed and I feared that like the first time it happened back in 2003 (and after which years of figure skating made worse...) it would not go back into place. Thankfully I wiggled my leg a bit and it did. It hadn't happened in a while but I think I handled it okay despite the pain. I was on my way to get my tokens for that day and I wasn't even running right before it happened. Someone working nearby who saw it happen and maybe heard my scream said "you weren't even running." I was walking and must've put my foot down funny and yeah, they were thick heeled and heavy thick heels too so, hm, silly idea to wear those two days in a row... My knee, oh dear. I went to first aid for a bit and tried not to freak out. Thankfully it's fine I just need to rest it and do some exercises. Looks like I'll be taking it easy this mid-year break. Which suits me fine because it felt like last semester went for a year. I did my first ever teaching prac. Loved it and now I'm certain I'm on the right career path but it sure is tough and tiring. Bring on creative arts - primarily on campus next semester yay! Back on topic now, my apologies...

So that was encounter #1 with Jennifer. PERFECT MOMENT ALERT.

Then next came getting my first ever convention autograph. I had heard from friends who had got them how they work but I was still learning. I almost didn't find the right part of the queue and a really rude man almost made me cry by saying "this isn't the end of the queue" really bluntly. Really, manners... Anyway, I cry too easily but, scary man, you were scary okay?! Soo...

I lined up. And I had a bag full of "I'll bring these various things because I have no idea what I want her to sign." In the end I gave up and just went with one of the photos. The one with Emma wearing the red jacket that's become quite iconic for her character and which everyone loves. I do love it but I loved the eps with Emma wearing mostly black jackets even more. I wanted to say soooooo many things to Jennifer but also didn't want to hold the queue up once I reached her at the table. Before I could say anything to her she said "I'm pretty jealous your jacket has a hood." Again with the making me feel like I'm dreaming and this isn't real life. Honestly, just wow, I don't know how I kept it together. She wanted my jacket right?! :P She was totally eyeing my jacket. Jennifer Morrison "fans self"... No really, I was just in shock. I was blown away at how gorgeous and human and, quite simply, grounded Jennifer was. I imagined her to be lovely and all. I've seen lots of Comic Con panels and I delve very deeply into hers (oh and many others' too) interviews on YouTube as a form of assignment procrastination but I really did not believe she could be just that amazingly approachable. And to be honest it's very rare to meet anyone at all well-known and have them not let you talk to them first. I've met a lot of Australian actors over the years and I always have to say things to them first and it makes me so nervous to talk to them. So thanks, Jen!

I actually replied after she said what she did about my jacket saying that it was only $15 and I barely had $15 on me at the time. Also, I'll add that I really should not have bought that jacket but I had been looking for one resembling Emma's red one for some time and when I saw that I couldn't not buy it. Very glad I did now, obviously. They didn't have many of my size left either. Anyway. I will wear the jacket and think of these moments now. They'll give me strength and confidence and just make me smile. When I explained about the jacket Jen's reply was "It's great" while I think she was signing something for the next person in line. I then gave her my gift (some of my favourite Aussie chocolates as a kid and my favourite Byron Bay cookie - Woolies biscuit aisle, Aussies - they are great - as well as a green rubber duck that I got a friend to grab me solely for Jennifer back at the start of this year - at our university's Orientation Week.

I only just discovered this year that our mascot was a duck (and I told Jen this when I got her autograph). And now it makes sense about seeing all the ducks during O-Week. I just thought my uni had some fascination with ducks which, thinking about it, is just a little weird and seeing a guy dressed as a giant duck actually makes a lot more sense now. We posed with the duck man for a photo this year. And held up our own yellow rubber ducks. I was so thrilled with all the ducks and their connection to Jen's "Ugly Ducklings" (which is what her fans are known as to all Oncers) that I had to Instagram all the ducks and didn't think to get one for Jen until I got home that day. They had yellow or green rubber ducks and I thought green would be nice for the whole wicked witch/Zelena arc that was happening at the time. I asked my friend to get me the duck (from another campus while she was there) in the hope that I meet Jennifer in Vancouver next year. I was willing to go all the way to try and meet her because I just wanted to go to where the magic happens so to speak and I wanted to say thank you to her and the cast I guess - for all they do. I still do want to that. Hopefully next year. I appreciate everyone on Once Upon A Time. I am so glad Jen came - it has really meant so much to me. Best surprise news ever!

I also love that Jen posted a picture of her gifts given to her by Once Upon A Time fans on her Instagram. My heart melted seeing that. Was not expecting it and it was just a lovely gesture. I will cherish that photo being on her Instagram forever. Wow.

So hm, does that cover day 1? I'm leaving the panels out of this post as it is already too long and I feel like nobody should wanna read this, gosh, Bianca you can type. OH that reminds me. I have great peripheral vision. And I remember seeing Jen looking my way while I was getting my token out of my pocket to give to the guy at her table with her (not a creepy person, I swear...). I think she was listening for my name to sign the photo I chose so she could sign it on the picture. This is what got me thinking when I thought back to it after this had all happened - later that same day. I thought hmmm, my name is always pronounced differently in America. I actually don't mind either. However, thinking about how you say it the Aussie way. If you say the B and then the word "anchor" without the 'r' (if your Aussie it pretty much just flows naturally) and if you're American, instead of the 'r' sound at the end of 'anchor' insert an 'a' as in alive sound then voila! That's how you say 'Bianca'. And my nickname is B and if you put an anchor emoji next to it you get my name in one letter and one emoji. Only took me 24+ years to work that one out, ladies and gentleman!

Anyway... way off topic (sorry!)...

My last photo moment with Jen was a special one. I really wasn't sure whether I would get two until a pretty awesome new Oncer friend I had only met that day asked if I would jump in for a photo with Jennifer with her. I asked if she wanted me to pay half and would have but she said it was okay and this honestly meant a lot to me. Still does. My last encounter with Jennifer was pretty special too. I found a children's pirate dress-up pack at a local supermarket before leaving home. It had a hook in it which I thought may come in handy. I also had a stress ball shaped like an apple with a bite out of it which I brought from home too. I gave the apple to my new Oncer friend and we were excitedly waiting in line thinking about what to do with our apple and hook. While she spoke to someone inside the booth about what to do (I think) Jennifer saw me limp in. Yep, I'm still limping. What a pain. I'm an idiot but a very happy one don't worry. I think this next moment is maybe my favourite. I say maybe because truly I will cherish every single thing I remember from these incredible two days for the rest of my life.

When Jennifer saw me limp towards her into the photo booth she was really shocked and her jaw just dropped - made me smile. She went "What happened?!" I replied [motioning back and forth from my knee with one finger] "dislocated." Her jaw dropped some more and I smiled wider. Her reaction was just so sweet and caring. More so than I expected that's for sure. She then said "Are you okay?!" I just replied "old injury". And then just like that she knew.

Ladies and gentleman - I was diagnosed by Dr Allison Cameron in that moment and I will never ever forget it or let anyone else for that matter!!

Something I will also NEVER forget is what happened after the above mentioned new friend and I wrote letters to pass to Yvette Nicole Brown (who is Ursula in Once Upon A Time) and I know from Community which is on my endless list of shows to begin watching. I just expected her to read the letter eventually but I think when she received them she wanted to know who gave them to her and we were called into line to talk to her. This in itself was truly amazing. I didn't expect to meet anyone other than Jennifer at Comic Con. I think missing out on things these days will not worry me as much because something I pretty much believed would never be possible actually happened. But then to have Yvette want to talk to us and read our letters at her autograph table, with us there to talk to her - just wow. Thanks so much, Yvette. I'm going to watch Community real soon while my knee gets better and tell anyone and everyone who will listen how awesome you are in it and in general. Also, while at Yvette's table, I spoke to the actor next to her who I have been a fan of since around 2004. Dean O'Gorman played the love interest of my favourite Aussie Actress Rachael Carpani on McLeod's Daughters - my favourite all time television show. When he wasn't busy talking to anyone I knew I had to say something quickly so I said "Dean!" And he looked at me. Then I said "I loved Jodi and Luke" and he thought for a minute (it was ages ago) and I went "McLeod's Daughters!" and it dawned on him and he went something like "oh, yes!"And smiled. Nice guy and someone from that show I really wanted to meet for years!! Clearly meeting him and Jennifer in the same day - way too much excitement but brilliant. So without my new friend suggesting I write a letter and loaning me pen and paper NONE of this would've happened. I thank both them and Yvette. Also Logan Echolls aka Jason Dohring waved and smiled at us while we were at Yvette's table too. 15 year old me would've been in need of resuscitation at that moment.

Before this gets any longer and now that I'm pretty sure I've said almost everything I will leave you with this. Oz Comic Con truly was an unforgettable two days for me. My trip to Melbourne began very early the day before and when we left home it was a chilly zero degrees Celsius. We had very out of control children on our train (literally moving the furniture which was an experience...) and well I had to land awkwardly onto a tram seat on our first night in Melbourne to avoid flying onto a businessman's seat which somehow I did - when a tram really suddenly started moving. All of this aside and the whole 'getting lost in the exhibition building because it's so symmetrical everything looks the same after a while thing' - it was the trip of a lifetime. Fun, smiles, food, happiness, laughter, tears of joy coupled with fear and nerves and excitement and lots and lots of FANGIRLING. Memories I will cling to and use to propel me to greatness hopefully in this last year or so of uni I have ahead.

I hope that someday I can meet more of the Once Upon A Time cast and have even more wonderful memories like these friends - new and old - and also talented, generous and kind-hearted individuals have given me (and hopefully with a new Oncer friend I know in where else of course, but New Jersey in the US - we met through Once if you can believe that - the world is much smaller than it feels sometimes). Until then I will hold the whole experience so dear to me that it will provide me with so much hope I will never believe anything to be anywhere near impossible ever again. I will never give up on believing I can do anything. This has shown me that you just can't lose hope in live. Ever. Meeting Jennifer and also Yvette has given me motivation to do things and try harder than I do now because anything can happen. It's amazing what an experience like this can do for your motivation levels. I guess I feel like I should never lose hope ever again. Things happen when you least expect them to and when you put in the hard yards.

My message to myself in any times in future that I lose sight of my dreams and how to achieve them will be simple: Dreams really can come true if you always have hope. Even if it's just that tiny bit you've been clinging to when you've told yourself, 'you know what, this is enough I don't need more'.

And you know, if that fails there's also this: "you actually did meet Jennifer Morrison and it was literally a dream come true, hoper. Bx"

B-anchor. Or Bianca, B, whatever. :) Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it or at least stayed awake!

Note: I hope there aren't any spelling or grammar errors! I did edit this more than once.