Interview With The Fangirl – Fan Fiction’s Joy Regullano
Anyone who reads this blog probably remembers that my head exploded from excitement after watching Supernatural’s 200th episode, Fan Fiction. I loved it that much. So it was a thrill to have a chance to chat with one of the smart and snarky fangirls from that episode, Joy Regullano, who played Maeve. I was wearing my #Supernatural tee shirt; it seemed appropriate for a fangirl interview.
Joy: I love your shirt!
Lynn: That’s my homage to Robbie Thompson, who’s always reminding me to hashtag my tweets.
(Thompson, you will recall, also wrote ‘Fan Fiction’.) Appropriate shirt is appropriate.
We pondered the restaurant menu for a while and made small talk. Joy turned out to be as smart as her alter ego. She went to Berkeley and double majored in theater and Southeast Asian studies.
Lynn: Wow! Though you seem to be doing pretty well with the acting. Are you going to stick to it?
Luckily the answer was yes. We spent a few minutes chatting about our respective careers and went on a significant tangent for a passionate discussion of the ups and downs of American higher education.
Joy: It’s cool that you get to do research on fans.
Lynn: It is pretty cool. I feel really lucky that they let me do research on the psychology of being a fan.
Joy: That’s pretty important work though.
Lynn: [laughing] I think so! And speaking of fans, I loved the way ‘Fan Fiction’ represented fangirls – not at all condescending. And then you and Katie and the other actresses just embodied these characters. They are smart, strong women, and true fangirls. And you were hysterically funny – you can say a lot with just one expression. Did you know it would be an important episode?
Joy: No, not really. Phil [Sgriccia], the director, sent us a few episodes to watch – like eight full episodes.
Lynn: Oh cool, which ones? Were they the meta episodes, about fandom?
Joy: Some of them were. One of them was the pilot, one of them was the two women at Harvelle’s…
Lynn: Ellen and Jo?
Joy: Yeah, the one where they died.
Lynn: Ohgod, that’s the saddest episode! I can’t even watch that, I have a daughter…
Joy: Oh I know, it was so sad. And then they sent us the episode with the vampire girl – no, the werewolf girl – where she had to die…
Lynn: Madison, right, Sam had to shoot her. I wonder why he selected that episode…Oh! [facepalm] Of course, the One Perfect Tear!
Joy: Oh, and the one with Rob [Benedict], where he first shows up as the writer. And the convention one, with the fake hunters.
Lynn: That makes sense, those are some of the meta episodes that comment on fans. So, you had an idea of the ways the show had incorporated fans before.
Joy: A little. When they were casting this role, it happened really really fast. The audition was maybe on a Wednesday and I had to get my work covered because I work at a restaurant, so I went in and did this role, and I thought I did well. I got a call back a few days later and had to get work covered again, and then they put me on hold for it. In the breakdown it said this is a big role, and if the fans like it, you might get invited to a convention. I couldn’t believe it, it’s a guest star for one episode, you know?
Lynn: But it was an important episode.
Joy: Now I realize that, and they tried to warn us before. And even Phil was like — Vancon was happening I think at that time — and they said, you can go check it out if you want, but don’t say that you’ll be on the show.
Lynn: There was a lot of secrecy around that episode. Rob said he was hiding under blankets and umbrellas just to go to craft services.
Joy: Yeah, they even put a fake name on the call sheet for him just in case.
Lynn: So did it feel like a responsibility, representing fangirls?
Joy: I didn’t even think about that I was portraying a fangirl…but there was, like in the script, one of my scenes got cut, but in one scene with Jared I talk about how I’m a Dean fan.
Lynn: So it was supposed to be that Marie was the Sam girl and you were the Dean girl!
Joy: (laughing) Yeah, but then I kept hanging out with Sam and she kept hanging out with Dean, so…
Lynn: Oh, they should have kept that in. I mean, I know they can’t keep everything in, but…
Joy: And then it would have been funny at the end when I say you could cut your hair a little and you’d make a great Dean, then it’s like a reference to that because I’m a Dean fan.
Lynn: It did come through that you were, but that would’ve been funny. Robbie was trying to cover all the fandom tropes, Dean girl versus Sam girl, etc.
Joy: I think Phil said it might be on the DVD. But yeah, now that you mentioned that, there are totally those girls who like the show because the guys are hot.
Lynn: Oh hell yes. People watch the show for so many different reasons, that’s one of the things that fascinates me. Some people watch because they love horror, or they’re watching because they’re fans of Jared or Jensen or Misha, or because of the incredible writing.
Joy: It’s funny, some fans have tweeted me and are like explaining, oh I made a gif of you on my Tumblr, and I was like, I was actually a fangirl growing up. I don’t know if you know Invader Zim on Nickelodeon – it’s one of those culty shows, weird kids like it. So that was me, and I made a fan site and everything. I didn’t write fanfiction, but I made a fan site and I definitely drew the cartoons.
Lynn: So you really were a fangirl and you did fanart.
Joy: Yeah, and that show, they had some meta-ish stuff too, like they would draw in the creators. There was an episode where they mention someone had a baby, and it’s [the name of] one of the actual voice actors. I don’t even know why I love that stuff – I guess it’s just cool that you know, oh, they’re people. So I guess that’s probably why – like if I had been a Supernatural fan all along, I would’ve been insane about this episode.
Lynn: That would’ve been great! Though maybe that would have been weird for you too.
Joy: Yeah, it’s definitely easier to go to work when I’m not like scared of it, you know what I mean? Like for Castle, I had a scene with Nathan Fillion and I didn’t even know he was a big deal. I haven’t even owned a tv in like 5 years.
Lynn: (laughing) Yeah, I’d say Nathan Fillion is a pretty big deal.
Joy: I know, all my friends were like Ohmygod you had a scene with Nathan Fillion! And I was like, I went to work and I had my line and he was really nice. And then I came home and my friends were Ohmygod, so I looked it up and thought oh, he is a big deal!
Lynn: Maybe it was better you didn’t know. I chose this show to research because I was a big fan of it already. And that was fine until we were on set and they were saying okay, you can go over to Jensen’s trailer now and do the interview and I was suddenly like WHAT???
Joy: (laughing) Well, even though I had only watched those few episodes, my first day on Supernatural I was already nervous. Me and Katie were both like, ohmygosh, because the first day it was just us. It was before the other girls came in, and it was just our quiet scenes with just us in the library, so it was more intimate.
Lynn: (brilliantly stating the obvious) Were you struck by how attractive those guys are? Because they really are.
Joy: Well, the funny thing is, you know, we’re playing high school kids, so it would be a little inappropriate, right? For them to have any…
Lynn: Yeah, that would be weird.
Joy: But yeah, so definitely, they’re very good looking.
Lynn: So do you have any anecdotes to share from filming the episode?
Joy: I had another line they cut out, with Jared, when he was saying oh, I did theater, and then I cut him down like “oh wow what, you did theater when the dinosaurs roamed the earth or what?” Something like that.
Lynn: Hah! Poor Sam.
Joy: And every time we filmed that, Jared would be like “you’re mean, fuck you!” And I would try really really hard not to break.
Lynn: He’s bad at that. Or really, he’s good at that. So he didn’t spare you.
Joy: No! And throughout the episode I’m very mean to him. So in the library scene that was cut, he was like “I’m looking for books on flowers, where’s the botany section?” and I’m like “look with your eyes, not with your mouth.” And he was like “don’t be such a bitch!” [cracks up] He had such fun adlibs.
Lynn: it sounds like you had a lot of fun. And your character had some of the best lines too.
Joy: Yeah, I noticed like I had some of the most quotable fan stuff, like if you cut your hair. And even though I wasn’t a huge fan, I agreed that Sam needs to cut his hair. I mean, some people like long hair…
Lynn: [interrupting] I do!! I love Sam’s long hair! But I still remember the first interview we did with Jared, he talked about how he tries not to listen to input about how he looks or his hair or whatever, so… I don’t know what it would be like for fifteen years of your life for people to micro focus on your hair! So I guess he can do what he wants…
Joy: But you’re a Dean girl…
Lynn: I am, but I love Sam too! And I love his long hair.
Joy: I’m actually a Castiel girl. I just love his expressiveness.
Lynn: Oh yes, yes, that’s true. I love Misha. As an actor, he can do very well what you do – that one expression that knocks you over. They all can, they’re all so good at that.
Joy: (nodding) Oh, I have another funny story. So when Katie was filming that scene, I think Phil got weird about Dean calling her a bitch because it seems inappropriate for him to call a 15 year old a bitch, so they did a few takes without it, but in the final cut, they did it because it’s such an iconic dialogue thing.
Lynn: I thought that was a good thing – the way Dean instinctively says ‘bitch’ and then Marie sort of gives him a look like, did you really just call a high school girl… or any woman for that matter… a bitch? And he sort of fumbles and you can tell that Dean recognizes oh shit, that wasn’t appropriate, I shouldn’t have done that. And that was a good thing, like the show recognizing its own problematic treatment sometimes.
[Break to share food, because Joy got the salad and Lynn got the loaded mac and cheese, so…]
Lynn: Did you talk with Robbie Thompson at all about the script?
Joy: I think he was in the audition room when I went to the call back, and Phil was there too. I’m not sure though. But he introduced himself to me through email. It was very cute because he was like, I wrote the episode, and I was like ohmygosh you’re a big deal, you don’t have to act like I don’t know who you are!
Lynn: That sounds like Robbie. I tried to tell him about what a positive reaction the episode got and he kept saying, you’re exaggerating.
Joy: And he introduced himself to me at the fan party too. I guess I didn’t really think about portraying a fangirl, I just thought more about deadpan deadpan more than anything else.
Lynn: Well you certainly conveyed that perfectly!
Joy: Some fans have been interacting with me and saying I’m so jealous of you, what was it like working with them? And I think that, it’s like you said, I’m their way in.
Joy: I guess I’m relatable, and they think I’m their age, so they’re like ohmygosh, I wish I was you. I feel like they probably wouldn’t say that otherwise, but to me and Katie, they can say that, they wish they were us.
Lynn: And you guys did such a good job, it came off as such a positive portrayal of fans.
Joy: It was cool because Marie believed so wholeheartedly in her version of the show, and Maeve too. I was like, look, this is Marie’s interpretation. And even Dean said, you have yours and I have mine.
Lynn: And Dean really had a progression, he was bristly at first, but by the end, he’s on board.
Joy: It was really cool working with Jared and Jensen too. On one hand, it was cool to see – I’ve never experienced this before on a set, they’re like on their phones up to the very last second, and then…
Lynn: They just snap into it!
Joy: So on the one hand, yeah, they’re like very casual, like oh yeah, we can do it, and on the other hand, they really care about the show. And then when we were filming, they’d ask really good, really deep questions and be like, I don’t think Dean would say this or I don’t think Sam would say this, or like we should change this, so it was really cool to hear them really be so invested in how their characters are portrayed.
Lynn: It’s rare, I think. You rarely have actors who have been on a show long enough that the producers trust them to change dialogue and scenes. They know that they take it seriously.
Joy: Yeah and I think Dean – Jensen – said this, when he looked at the camera, that wasn’t scripted. That was really cool. After reading more about Supernatural, I heard about the episode… the French Connection?
Joy: Right. I was kinda bummed that they didn’t give us that one as part of the 8 episodes, it seemed kinda relevant.
Lynn: It would be. You should watch it, it’s hysterical.
Joy: There were inside references in this episode too, like Katie kicking the trash can when she has her breakdown. I think the producers put that in, it’s an inside reference for them.
Lynn: [wonders who on set has a propensity for kicking trash cans…]
Joy: Katie and I were shocked that when we were filming, the fans would be out there watching from like 7 am to midnight. They’d camp out even, I was like ohmygosh, they found us, and they have tents! So any time the girls who were dressed as boys were walking around, they had to be in jackets and hiding behind umbrellas and stuff.
Lynn: Fans are passionate about this Show! Do you think you’ll start watching Supernatural now?
Joy: [nodding]. I’m a writer too, so I’m definitely interested in why people watch a certain show. When you write a pilot, you set up all the relationships. And people watch tv for the characters. This show has everything, it’s got the brothers… like when I watch Friends, the ones I love to watch are the ones that are about my favorite character. Or like New Girl, I watch because I like Nick. It’s not Jess, or that the plot is fascinating.
Lynn: It’s the characters. Definitely. Do you write scripts then?
Joy: And sketches too. I have a Youtube channel. I was on Huff Post front page the other day. It’s a sketch about an Asian girl with a white fetish, so like a funny reversal.
Lynn: I have to check that out! [ps – it’s hysterical! Link at the end of this article] Did you get to meet anyone else on the crew?
Joy: Katie was better about being friendly with everyone. I’m more awkward, I was like the awkward kid in high school and never completely got over it. Katie made friends with the whole cast. We were up there for a long time, it was almost three weeks. So it felt like we were really part of it, like this was our job. They had this thing on Fridays – our first filming day was a Friday – and the crew does this thing where they have a pot and everybody puts like 5 dollars in and it ends up being like 80 or 90 dollars, and they let me draw from that pot that week, draw the winner. So my first day I got to draw the winner.
Lynn: That’s like their way of accepting you into the family.
Joy: Yeah!! And it felt like an office, it was like something an office would do. And I drew the winner and it was somebody from the crew, so they won and got like 80 or 90 dollars. And they do that every Friday, I forget what they call it.
Lynn: I’ve talked to a lot of guest actors, and they all say that Supernatural is unique in making them feel like part of the family. What other shows have you been on?
Joy: This is the biggest role I’ve had on tv, the others were like two liners. My first role was on 90210 as a drug dealer. And I was on Raising Hope. And on Castle. I either play deadpan or I play the opposite.
Lynn: Interesting that you get cast as the two extremes.
Joy: Well, they say that as an actor, you can play yourself and your opposite. So I think in my real life I‘m excited, happy, and then my opposite is all deadpan. I find the middle hard to play, because it’s like all nuance. It’s not exactly me but not the opposite, so you have to find the shade of it.
Lynn: So you had been a fan of other things, did you know about shipping?
Joy: Oh yeah, absolutely. My little sister is a huge anime fan. I was going to go into internet production with Nickelodeon. Then I got an agent without trying — he was looking for my type, he was like oh I need minorities who can play high school and I was like oh that’s me! I got 3 jobs and was like well, I guess I‘ll just do the acting.
Lynn: I guess so! So those parts of the script made sense to you.
Joy: (nodding) When I was a fan of Invader Zim, we had shipping. And it’s so funny, on Twitter some fans will have like blahblahWinchester as their twitter name, and my old email address was Joy Fenton because I watched this show on Nickelodeon and the actor’s real name was Danny Fenton, so that’s what my email was. So I’m totally there, that is totally me. And I’m a huge fan of the band Weezer. I’ve had these glasses since like 7th grade, and I actually used these for Supernatural. I usually use my fake glasses without lenses, but yeah, I brought the other ones to set and they were like no, just use the real ones.
Katie’s were fake though, they had lenses, but they weren’t prescription. Actually she borrowed them from a friend and wore them to the audition and then casting liked them so much they were like oh, do you have your glasses? And they had to go run out before filming and find them in a store. I was surprised that they had both of us in glasses.
Lynn: [adjusting her glasses] I liked that. I mean, it’s a stereotype that people who wear glasses are smart, but they wanted to portray these women as smart and competent.
Joy: And I didn’t know that there were so few Asian characters on the show and the fans had been wanting that. Some fans have said oh I’ll write a fanfic about you and Kevin, and I thought that was like I indirectly got to be a part of the Tran family. It was sweet that Lauren [Tom] was like, she can be part of our family.
Lynn: Lauren is awesome, so sweet and so talented.
Joy: She seems awesome. She tweeted me a few times so I looked her up and I was like omg Amy on Futurama!! So I had a little mini fangirl moment – I love Futurama!
Lynn: I love your fangirl enthusiasm.
Joy: I actually auditioned for the part of Kevin Tran, but they wanted to bring somebody in from Canada, and I get it – and they were open to making it a girl, but I see why they made it a guy.
Lynn: Oh, really? So that was a while ago.
Joy: I started auditioning in July 2011, so that was like maybe April or May 2012. And then casting brought me in like ten or fifteen times after that. Various roles here and there. I actually just brought a bottle of champagne to the casting director to thank them, and they were like, we’re so happy for you, we’ve been trying to get you on the show for years.
Lynn: Casting is so important to the show, they’re the unsung heroes.
Joy: They are, the gatekeepers. Oh, crazy story, I ran into Jim Beaver the other day! I’m in a play and he came to opening night and he was already looking for me because he liked my character and my performance in the play…
Lynn: He didn’t even know you had any connection to Supernatural?
Joy: No, and then someone was like oh, she’s in the 200th episode and we were like, that’s so crazy, small world! And then he followed me on twitter and told all his followers to follow me and friended me on Facebook and he was like you’re my comedy goddess.
Lynn: Awww, I love that. You’re both SPN Family, and we support each other.
Joy: After watching those 8 episodes, I kinda felt like a mini fangirl. When I met Jim I was like ohmygosh! Bobby! And then meeting Misha too. [grinning adorably] I was definitely a fangirl. Oh, Misha…
Lynn: (smiling) I know the feeling.
Joy: The girl who played Cas in the episode, Nina, she was great. All the girls were so nice and so fun to work with. Even though we definitely had lots of long nights of filming for this episode, there were a lot of moving parts to the scenes, so 14 hour days.
Lynn: They filmed in a school, right?
Joy: Yeah. If I had a dollar for every time I’m filming in a jumper…
Joy: My mom was like, are you sure you’re not gonna get typecast? But I like it. I don’t always need to be somebody different in each role, I just wanna play me. I’m lucky that my personality is that already, so it’s easy and it’s fun. Other people, their type is a little bit harder to find. I was reading what Misha said about responsibility in your book – I mean, I only have this one character on this one episode, but I already feel like this is a responsibility. Like on one of my youtube videos, people thought I was this porn star, and I tweeted oh, I guess I look like her a little, maybe. And then I realized that maybe I shouldn’t do that because my 14 year old followers all went to look her up. And some of them were like oh, you’re prettier, and others were like, I saw more than I intended to.
Lynn: I guess it can be scary to have followers, you could start to second guess yourself all the time.
Joy: And Asian girls in general are like, it’s really great to see another Asian on screen. It’s cool that I can be a role model, but at the same time it’s like, woah, scary I guess.
Lynn: It must be weird to be like ‘representing’ fangirls.
Joy: I was really happy I got the role, and honestly most of the scripts don’t say Asian in the breakdown. This one for Maeve, I think hopefully [I got it because] I was the funniest one. In the call back, most of the other girls were white. I just happened to get it and happened to be Asian. And Vivian, she’s a person of color too, playing Bobby. I loved that. Have you seen that Tumblr, cosplayingwhileblack? It’s important to see that.
[If you haven’t check it out at cosplayingwhileblack.tumblr.com]
Lynn: Seeing yourself, it is so important. How do you feel okay when you don’t see anyone who’s like you anywhere?
Joy: I remember they had an African American girl up for Marie too. The girls were all so amazing. Legitimately like Broadway girls.
Lynn: And they could sing!
Joy: Yeah, Marie sang. She sang A Single Man Tear. Such a funny song title, right?
Lynn: In Supernatural fandom, we call it the OPT – One Perfect Tear. I asked Robbie why they changed the name, and I guess they felt it sounded better this way.
Joy: I love how you’re so on the pulse of how the fans feel about stuff. I told some of my friends who are big Supernatural fans and they were like OMG. One of my best friends, she writes letters to her good friend as Sam and then she writes back as Dean.
Lynn: Cool, like an RPG, role playing.
Joy: But then most of my friends, it’s amazing that Supernatural is such a niche, because most of them were like oh, I didn’t know that show was still on!
Lynn: Well, it has been on a long time… Did you get to work with the Impala?
Joy: Not the real car, no. But we visited the set when they were filming at the motel, so the car was there. But we did get to work with the cardboard one.
Lynn: Which was awesome. Did you always want to be an actor?
Joy: Actually I didn’t touch it until college. I went to Berkeley as pre med, but I always wanted to be a writer really. Sort of. Ish. I wrote for the newspaper. And you know in English class, where you do the skits of the book you read? That was always my favorite part. But I never wanted to struggle. My parents are immigrants, so they were always like, you need to have a stable job. And they’re doctors, so my dad’s dream for me was to take over the clinic. When I told my dad, he didn’t talk to me for like 3 weeks. He yelled at me, said you’re so selfish. He also hated that I majored in Southeast Asian studies. But everything in my life has just pushed me toward acting. We only had one playwriting class in college and I didn’t get in the first time, and didn’t get into the screenwriting one either, but I took six acting classes.
Lynn: Well, it seems to be working out well! And you write too?
Joy: That’s what my youtube channel is, I get to express myself there. In school, I interviewed the director of the Lion King and a couple of the actors, for the newspaper, and that was the day I figured out I’m on the wrong side of the table.
Lynn: What’s it like now?
Joy: Earlier this year I did a commercial and showed my parents and they were like , are you still thinking about pharmacy school?
Lynn: (is laughing)
Joy: And then they came to see my play the other day and my dad was like, you seem more comfortable with acting now. I don’t know if it’s like an Asian thing, but they won’t give out full compliments to me, but he’ll actually brag to my friends and show them my videos at the clinic.
Lynn: So he’s proud of you. Would you consider doing conventions?
Joy: On set, the boys and everyone else were like, I hope you get to come to conventions, if the fans respond well to the episode.
Lynn: Which they have. Conventions don’t just pay well, I think the guests really have fun.
Joy: Once the fans have been to a con, aren’t they like, oh I’ve already gotten Osric’s signature? Or aren’t they like that?
Lynn: It’s not just about the autographs or the photos. It’s about having time to interact with the actors. Kind of be acknowledged and be able to tell them what the show and their character have meant to you. Also every con is different, so you never really know what will happen. And the show is picking up new viewers, so a lot of the fans at each con have never been to one before. It’s a good time to be a fan!
Joy: My character had a great line from the X Files, “I want to believe.” My sister is a huge X Files fan, she’s five years older than me. To the point where she changed the computer shut off sound to that music. So it was really cool to be able to channel my sister’s energy too. They were such fangirls in the 90s, as much as you could be before the web. I guess the internet has really revolutionized how fans connect.
Lynn: It has. We wrote Fangasm and Fandom At The Crossroads because we wanted to challenge the pathologizing of fandom and show how being a fan and being part of the fandom community can be such a healthy thing.
Joy: (nodding) Right. I mean, how many of those school shooting kids, if they’d had a fandom to belong to, would have released it that way? Because they felt alone. And in your book, you said a lot of fans felt alone, but within that community they’re not alone.
Lynn: Falling in love with Supernatural and finding the fandom community has changed so many lives – for fans and for the actors who make the show too.
Joy: It was really cool to be at work with them and just be part of the team. Obviously if I’d met them in any other context, even today like at the con, people all thought I was a fangirl too. It’s actually pretty cool.
Lynn: Last night at karaoke, Katie and her boyfriend were in the crowd just rocking out. Nobody recognized her, she looked like all the other fans. I thought that was cool, the woman playing the fangirl right there being a fangirl with the other fans.
Joy: At the screening at the fan party, they let us sit in the audience with the other fans, and hear all the screaming, and then at the end they were like oh, Joy and Katie are here and all the fans were like, wait, that was you? You were there the whole time?
Lynn: (laughing) You fit right in! I think Robbie was trying to normalize fandom, to say that fans are everyone. There are gendered expectations of women as crazy fangirls, but guys can go to football games and paint themselves green. It’s not that different.
Joy: On twitter, some people were asking, were you a fan before the show? And I didn’t want to be insulting like no — I thought my answer of I don’t even own a tv might get me in trouble.
Lynn: But that was the truth! And you were definitely a fangirl, just not of this particular show.
Joy: And now I’m a fan, it’s a great show! It was funny, my sister watched Gilmore Girls, so I knew Jared was on it though I was too young to watch it. I know the Asian girl who was on it from the LA improv scene, so I was able to say to Jared, oh do you know Keiko [Agena]? And he was like yes, I worked with her for years! So that was cool. I thought like oh, you guys are real people. Also, Jensen was selling a house while we were filming, so in makeup he’d be on the phone with his realtor like, how’s the house doing?
Lynn: They’re real people for sure. And nice ones at that.
Supernatural just seems to cast lots of actors and actresses who fit that description. Joy is certainly one of them. I hope we’ll see her again on Supernatural, and I’d love to see Joy and Katie do a fangirl panel at a convention, especially now that I know how thoughtful and funny she is. Creation?
Check out Joy’s hysterical Youtube channel here– https://www.youtube.com/user/jkregullano
For more thoughts on fangirls and behind the scenes
interviews, check out our books on Supernatural
at the links at the top of this page!