Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Meeting the Master

Greetings non-alien friends! It's been a week since
I published my Operation B.A.B.E. post- I don't quite feel like an alien fighting, action hero yet, what with a lingering cold, achy knee and a stubborn scale, BUT I know I'm on the right track and am definitely focused (with the help of @rudy) so follow me on Tumblr if you're interested in tracking my attempts at transforming into a bonified Riplesque action star.

Now, on to a fun All Things T segment we'll call Storytime with T:

Check out this letter I just found on my computer!!

Dear Joss,Well, first off…

Dear fabulous assistant to Joss, please allow this note to pass to him. It is brief, and besides me being an actor I am not crazy and I was an assistant at William Morris for a year and a half out of college so I know what you deal with and that you can just choose to not throw this away and put it in his inbox. Please? I appreciate it.

Ok- Dear Joss,I’m already running out of room…This little letter has been a long time coming…my agents and managers always dissuade me from doing any personal letter
writing- they think it is intrusive and desperate- but this is important:
You need to meet me because I could be your Diana Prince.
It happens that I am a huge fan of yours- yes, a Buffy devotee- but for the past year I have been surrounded by the same phrase upon people meeting me- ‘Wow- you should be the next Wonder Woman…’ I hear it all the time from casting directors to a person on the street. What does that mean? That I just really look like a young Linda Carter or do I possess that certain WW presence? Well I know that I’m supposed to play a strong, mythic character in my life and I know that I need to tell big, high stakes stories in my work so I think it’s both. I know my agent in Vancouver and other contacts here in LA say they are keen to put me on someone’s radar if unknowns are considered but what’s the chance of that? Plus, only I can relay to you the passion
that I have for acting and storytelling and
how the universe just keeps pushing me to contact you. I don’t know what happens next, but I promise you that our paths should somehow cross. Thank you so much for reading my little note.

Sincerely, Taryn O’Neill (


Yup, seriously! I wrote and sent this letter to Joss Whedon in the summer of 2007 after I learned he was writing the new Wonder Woman movie. I honestly believed that I was going to find a way to get myself in front of him. I rented all the old Wonder Woman episodes and even wrote a short script based off of the more dramatic episodes (I just found that document too but it's not registered so no you can't read it). But sadly Joss dropped off the project a few months later, and no, I never heard anything from him (I enclosed a postcard headshot along with the letter). But I really did send the letter, and I had completely forgotten about it until last night.

Cut to Comic Con last month:

I met him! I met Joss Whedon! And he couldn’t have been more un-enthused. Given, I had a little bit of liquid courage in me, via a few sake helpings that I had had during my lunch at the Hard Rock, but upon spotting him and Eliza (Dushku) in the lobby, I just knew that I had to introduce myself; I mean 'After Judgment' had been up against ‘Dr. Horrible’ for a Streamy, so I had the right. Hmmm, maybe I was actually intoxicated, and not just feeling warm and fuzzy, as Joss looked at me as if I were speaking German. I know I told him my name, what show I worked on, that I was upset at not meeting him at the Streamy’s thus wanting to introduce myself, and that I was a huge Buffy fan (and after a few seconds said Dollhouse too). Joss smiled, said 'thank you', there was an ackward beat and then I professed how nice it had been meeting him and turned on my heels and spead towards the bathroom.

Oy! I actually think I’m upping the drama a teensy bit in the re-telling of my encounter as it couldn't have been as uncomfortable as I made it out to be, but then again, a few hours later, I met someone who thought that Joss would have been very chatty with me, as apparently I’m his type. Apparently not that day! Ugh.

But something else this other person said colored my experience in a unique way. He said that Joss’ script for Wonder Woman had sucked. I'm sorry WHAT!?! He said that it was just a rehashing of Buffy characters and read like a Buffy episode. Hmmm, Joss, someone who I dare say I idolize, wrote a bad script? (*this is of course one person's opinion*) He couldn’t crack the Wonder Woman riddle of how to re-interpret the comic material to make it worthy of a big screen adaptation without seeming dated and hokey? Maybe he’s not perfect after all.

And maybe he was a little intimidated by this feisty, slightly inebriated brunette in Wonder Womanesque boots who grabbed his arm, yammered feverishly and then left. Maybe he is as overwhelmed by the main convention floor and the thousands of comics, of fantastical stories and mythologies that already exist, wondering why do I even bother, there are so many talented writer/creators out there already, as I was. Maybe.

So I'm not going to put Joss onto that pedestal anymore; well maybe not one so high. He was indeed the one who created a TV show that I lived and breathed, Buffy. He created a tangible world that revolved around a strong, conflicted and unique female character that I deeply connected with. It was almost as though it was through this show (and Alias) that I could come to terms with the fact that I never quite felt normal as a girl- didn't have the same impulses and desires of other people of my gender to settle down, have kids, lead a normal life. There was nothing normal about Buffy Summers (or Sydney Bristow), either who they were or what they did...and they were fierce (hence the Operation BABE). The character and the show woke me up and may be one of the reasons that I write today. But as for Joss, I don't know what moves him, drives him to write. But I know he reads WIRED for inspiration, exactly like I do. So instead of dwelling in the doldrums about my lackluster first date with Joss, I rallied the way I always do, I get to work, something I always do when feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. I will work with Joss one day, I have no doubt, but it will be a collaboration in some fashion. I believe that I too can create fantastical, thought provoking, moving worlds that people want to visit. Because what my meeting with Joss and The Con gave me, besides aching feet and a perma-grin, was a reminder that we all start out on the same playing field, we all start out as fans.


pjowens75 said...

Sometimes meeting our idols can tarnish them a little. But that's a good thing. It turns them from idols to icons and either brings them closer to our level or, as in your case, raises you up to theirs. Keep doing what you do.

Taryn O'Neill said...

Blogger is still not forwarding me comments! Thanks for your wise words - it was an interesting experience and I always try to use those experiences as motivation.