Our friend Chhai Tea (ctann in this site) attended WhedonCon last weekend where he had the chance to meet Summer there several times, including at two fan events, at her panels or at her booth. He was so kind to share with us his full experience, as well as his photos. Among other things, you will learn that she and her whole family are planning to do a road trip across the USA. Chhai also asked Summer about the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate. Read his enthralling and informative report below and feel free to leave a comment.
My Fan Experience: Meeting Summer at Whedoncon
Whedoncon has been one of the most life-changing experiences for me. Being the first con that I ever attended, it really left a huge impact. The main reason for that was the opportunity to meet Summer Glau. I’ve been a fan for Summer for only a short 7 months as of the time of writing this. I discovered her through Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles back in November of 2018. As it was my very first time seeing Summer Glau in action, Cameron quickly became my favorite role of hers. Once I watched Firefly and Serenity, River Tam joined the ranks.
But going back to the con itself! Along with the usual premium pass purchase, I had also acquired access to the two fan events that Summer was participating in along with a selfie ticket. My very first encounter with Summer was at the Craft and Chat event on Saturday where 10 lucky fans including myself, were able to paint a fan using watercolors inspired by Firefly and chat with Summer as she was doing the same.
She told us that it was the first time that she had ever done crafts at any convention that she has attended thus far. Summer ended up arriving a bit late but the cool thing was that she ended up sitting next to me (as you can see on the photos)! During the duration of the event, Summer had started an icebreaker where we went around introducing ourselves by saying our names and answering two questions, one of which I had suggested. Those questions were: “What is your hidden talent? and What are you most proud of?” As each person went around following the icebreaker, Summer occasionally chimed in about her family, recent travels to various conventions, rearranging and moving, and appreciating nature more than technology.
One new thing in particular that caught the group’s attention was that Summer announced that she and her whole family was planning to do a road trip across the USA in a schoolie. When asked what that was, she described it as a converted school bus that functions much like an RV where it is not only a form of transportation but also a cramped living space. Her oldest daughter Milena wanted to visit national parks so Summer and her husband Val made it their goal to visit all the national parks.
I was the very last one to participate in the icebreaker. I introduced myself to Summer and everyone else, using a cheesy pun with my name so it was easier to remember. I answered the latter question first by saying that I’m most proud of attending my first ever convention at Whedoncon. Everyone including Summer clapped at that response. When it came time to the other question, I discussed to everyone that I had a great love for cartoons from my childhood and that I would always try and imitate the voices that the characters made. I pointed to the Donald Duck puppet that I was carrying around with me (who I dressed up as Jayne Cobb from Firefly with his signature beanie) and said that he was one of the voices that I could do. Everyone including Summer, pressed me to say something in that voice as an example. I ended up coming up with something random and saying a line of Jayne’s from Firefly, "You are seriously damaging my calm", and I could see everyone’s face light up in surprise and shock. I saw Summer’s reaction from the corner of my eye and she was indeed shocked as well. She put her hand on my shoulder and told me that, “You did a great job, Chhai! That’s what you should be most proud of!” I smiled at her and said thank you, her comment made me really happy.
As we continued painting our fans, Summer asked me more questions such as where I was from (since I mentioned that I was local) and what I was up to nowadays and I ended up chatting with her quite a bit. Getting to talk and interact with her in person during that fan event helped me come out of my shell and state of being star struck. When time ran out, we all grouped together for a photo and I got to stand next to Summer in the photo (see below). Afterwards, she gave me a hug along with some of the other people there and told us that she was grateful for being there with us and that she had a lot of fun.
Summer wished that more conventions did craft events like Whedoncon. I ended up leaving first so I could rest before heading over to her table. I saw her coming her way out of the previous room and she waved hi to me, saying my name. I asked if she was headed to her table and she said yes. I said that I was headed there next and she smiled before proceeding downstairs with her liaison.
When it came time for her table session, I got my QR code scanned and received my ticket. I proceeded to stand in line, I ended up being around 3rd or 4th place in the line. Her liaison set up a set of photographs for fans to take in case they didn’t bring something for Summer to sign and handled the “sign-in” process. As I was waiting, I overheard Summer talking to the group in front of me about her family that still lives in California and that she comes and visits them from time to time. One fun fact I learned was that her husband Val was a surfer, something I did not know at all.
When I approached the liaison and handed her my white ticket, she checked it and said, “One autograph and selfie?” I got really confused there. See, the thing is that both the autograph and selfie are supposed to be separately charged and I only paid for the selfie. I didn’t correct the mistake that the liaison made, but it made me wonder if I just got a free autograph from Summer basically. It may have had to do with what had occurred earlier in the fan event, I still don’t know even as I am writing this. When it came to be my turn, I said hi to her again. I told her how I only became a fan of hers recently through TSCC and she just kept smiling and said “Thank you so much” to me.
She proceeded to ask me if I had any siblings and I told her that I have a younger brother. She prodded further by asking what he does. I said that he got a job at McDonald’s recently and just finished his 1st year in college. Summer leaned back in her seat and folded her arms saying, “McDonald’s? That should be interesting.” That elicited a chuckle from me.
I then asked her if she heard about the upcoming Terminator Dark Fate. To be fair, perhaps if I had mentioned that Josh Friedman was partaking in the movie, I would have gotten Summer’s attention a bit more. She said that she had not heard about it, likely since she is a busy mom. Summer then proceeded to compliment the shirt I was wearing, since she had never seen a shirt design of herself that was done in watercolor like the one I wore (ironic considering we just used watercolors in the craft and chat).
When it came time to the signature, I showed Summer my badge so she could see how to spell my full name correctly. I had introduced myself as Chhai initially but when she saw that my full name was different, she asked me, "Is this your full name, Chhai?" I answered, "Yes! That is my full name. I usually don't use it because people mispronounce it a lot." She asks how to properly pronounce it. I told her: Chai-you. Summer grinned and said, "That's not hard to pronounce at all! What a beautiful name you have!" I thanked her for the compliment."
As she was signing a photo of her from TSCC that I picked out (see below), I was thinking of a way to get her attention to a gift that I had for her. The thing was that I had crafted a song dedicated to Summer based off the version I had done for TSCC which itself was a cover of the song Lifelight from a video game called Super Smash Bros Ultimate. As she got close to finishing her signature, I asked her about her favorite music, even though I knew some tidbits from the facts I read about her online. She proceeded to mention jazz, country, and a few other genres including one particular band that I sadly cannot recall the name of before she asked the same question back at me. I said that I enjoy all types of music, any kind that sounded good. That is when I told her: “I actually have a gift for you, Summer. It’s a CD containing a song that I wrote for you.” as I handed the CD over to her (Listen to the Lifelight: Summer Glau Edition at the bottom of the page) . She was so amazed and delighted when she stared at the cover of the CD, even the fan behind me told me that I had some serious talent. Summer couldn’t help but smile big. She proceeded to ask me, “Can I give you a hug?” which I replied, “Sure!” That was the second hug I got from her that same day. She said that she will definitely take a listen to it. I took my photo with her and thanked her for the chat. She replied back with a thank you and told me to have fun for the rest of the day. I said thank you and told her the same thing.
Later on, I ended up attending the Modern Heroine panel which Summer partook in (see photos below). It was a very fun panel to watch, the one highlight I recall was when Summer said that she has a very bad memory, so much so that sometimes she would forget entire vacations when her sister would reminisce about them with her. I found that funny since Summer is able to remember some fans quite well if they attended a convention to see her prior but the same cannot be said of her general memory.
Next on Sunday, I attended Summer’s individual Q&A panel. I ended up recording the entire panel as I cannot recall anything from it as I’m writing this (Editor's note: watch the video here]. Some highlights of the panel were shared by the Whedoncon Twitter page. When it came time to the other craft event, known as Craft & Crypt, it took place in a special hotel room in the Hilton. It was decorated heavily for a later event but we used the location for the event, which was making hand crafted dolls inspired by the show Dollhouse. Both Summer and Miracle Laurie (they starred in Dollhouse together and even shared a scene in the show) came in at the same time. Once again, Summer ended up sitting next to me, and she said hi to me yet again and a question which I regret not asking what she had asked, it sounded something akin to how are you but I was not able to properly reply. She didn’t mind though. Again like with the Firefly Craft and Chat, the 20 attendants made dolls and had a chance to talk to Summer. I ended up asking Summer two questions, the first was how she did her makeup routine, a bit of a personal question since my significant other wanted to ask her that. She told me that she puts on makeup that is easy to do before her daughters could see. That made me chuckle a bit. Next, I asked her about her voice work on Alternis and how it differed from working on TV. She explained how the process of voicing all the characters was certainly a challenge itself, especially doing the male voices. Overall, she does enjoying working on the project with Serial Box and hopes that they continue to hire her to do more since it is an easy job to fit in with her busy schedule of raising her daughters. She spoke a lot with the other fan that sat close to her, who was actually the singer of the Whedoncon theme song. Summer talked freely about her oldest daughter Milena Jo and how she loves to befriend anyone that she meets all over the world. The singer asked Summer if she had ever shown any of her work before to her young daughters. Summer made a bit of a “I don’t think I should show my work to them yet” face and told an interesting story. Apparently, her husband Val was surfing through TV channels one time in a hotel room, and happened upon Serenity being aired. Milena Jo ended up seeing her mother in the fight scene against the Reavers. On a side note to that, I had always joked with a friend and fellow TSCC fan of mine where Milena would speak to Summer a certain way and Summer would reply in a certain way. Well, it turned out that we were 100% correct based on what Summer described. Milena had apparently said: “Mommy, I want to be like you one day and kill some aliens.” Summer said that she had told her daughter: “Baby nooo, maybe not right now. One day, sure you can kill some aliens like me.” Just hearing Summer talk about her kids in person made me appreciate and admire her more from how much she loves kids and family in general. At the end of the event, once again we all grouped together for a photo. I noticed Summer was speaking to a baby girl that was there in the event and I couldn’t help but say “Aawwee” from how cute the moment was. Afterwards, everyone headed out and as I was waiting for an elevator, I saw Summer for the last time and said my goodbyes to her and that it was great to meet her, she replied back the same way and smiled.
Overall, my experience at Whedoncon will be one I remember forever. Summer has not attended a convention in such a small scale since the Buffy one in the UK [Editor's note: Starfury Fusion Blackpool 2004] and says that she really misses the intimacy and closeness that these smaller conventions offer, making a full circle by attending Whedoncon. I agree with her 100%, the small nature of Whedoncon was the reason I was able to have the experience with her that allowed me to write this really long fan experience. I may have missed some details from what I experienced but it’s because I was too busy having fun and enjoying myself. My love and admiration for Summer as an actress and as a person has grown tremendously as a result. She’s simply too sweet, humble, and down to earth.
As I have mentioned before in the past, she is quite a rare gem of a person in today’s world. She has grown a lot since her early days as an actor and a dancer, looking back at each role as a reflection of that point in her life and how much she has changed. I admire that a lot about Summer and she inspires me to do the same. The best part too is that she can remember you, she certainly remembered my name quick! If you have the opportunity to meet her, I really recommend it, you will not be disappointed! Thank you Summer, for continuing to be so amazing to all of your fans around the world. I wish nothing but the best for you and your family and I hope to meet you again someday at another convention!
Lifelight: Summer Glau Edition
|10 Jun 2019|
|Total comments: 7|
Message #6 | ctann | 12 Jun 2019, 19:52 GMT
@KevinInEngland I surprised myself for being able to remember the entire experience. And as I mentioned in the last paragraph, Summer's life has evolved and changed since her early days as an actor. She's still the same at her core but with a much different outlook and perspective on things.
Message #7 | ctann | 13 Jun 2019, 01:31 GMT
@Randy Thank you so much, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I am honestly quite happy that Whedoncon was designed the way it is to allow that level of interaction with the guests, including Summer. I think the story that Summer told about Milena wanting to kill Reavers was probably my favorite one too.