The Art of the Con: TVDChicago 2013

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I’ve never been active in fandom, my love of television, movies, and books was a private, personal reverence. All this changed when I headed to Creation Entertainment’s Official Vampire Diaries Convention in Chicago on April 6&7, 2013. The Vampire Diaries is a supernatural drama on the CW Network that centers on a teenage girl named Elena Gilbert and the love triangle involving her and two vampire brothers, Damon and Stefan Salvatore. Being my first foray into the often crazy Fangdom, I was excited if not slightly apprehensive, but I boarded my flight with my freshly painted TVD nails and uncharacteristic optimism.
As soon as I arrived at the Westin O’Hare you could feel a buzz of excitement, fans were milling around the lobby, lining up to register for the conventions, and visiting the vendors room to look at various TVD themed novelties, and also products from B.O.B which is a company that uses reclaimed wood in creating decorative objects, and coincidentally is owned by Ian Somerhalder’s brother Robert, who works at the booth, and is always happy to talk to fans.
Saturday was the first day of convention activities with an opener from the Hillywood girls, who have a popular YouTube channel which hosts their parodies of popular films and TV including Twilight. The first panel was Nathaniel Buzolic who plays Kol Mikaelson, one of the original family. The charismatic native Australian actor is an involved activist who used his popularity to promote the EndItMovement.
The next panel was definitely a highlight of the convention for me as it featured Charlie Bewley, best known for his role in Twlight as Demetri a member of the Volturi Guard, Bewley played Galen Vaughn, a member of The Five a group of supernatural vampire hunters on the Vampire Diaries this past season. Playful and unassuming Bewley’s panel was full of humour and audience interaction, an especially memorable moment was when a 6-year-old fan asked which character he’d like to kill most! This question earned the little fan the name Damien and Bewley singled her out in his panel with Arielle Kebbel the next day. After his panel I attended my first photo op which was with Charlie, there was a lineup but it ran smoothly with minimal wait time. The photo op run very quickly with very little time to interact with the celebrities but true to form Charlie still found time to make each fan’s turn memorable. Not one to stick to a generic pose Charlie had some of the most entertaining photos, though Nathaniel and Steven R. McQueen’s can rival his.
I also attended Steven R. McQueen‘s panel which was equally entertaining, McQueen is a Hollywood legacy, the grandson of  the late Steve McQueen. McQueen plays Jeremy Gilbert on the Vampire Diaries. It was immediately apparent that McQueen’s panel would be entertaining, as he came onstage with an entourage; cardboard cutouts of his co-stars Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley. McQueen’s panel was full of fan interaction as McQueen pulled each fan who had a question up onto the stage with him and would then proceed to either serenade them or question them, much to the dismay of the panel moderators.
The final panel of the day was Michael Trevino and Candice Accola, who play the ill-fated lovers Tyler Lockwood and Caroline Forbes on the Vampire Diaries. Trevino and Accola were charming and funny, their chemistry translating from the screen into real life as they constantly goaded each other throughout the question and answer periods.
Though the theater events were over more fun was still to be had, that evening the convention threw a Decade Dance were attendees were encouraged to dress in their best ’50s and ’60s styles. Special guest to the dance included: Candice, Michael, Nathan, Charlie and Steven, who mingled with the guests.
Before the dance I was lucky enough to attend the one hour meet and greet with Steven, Nathaniel and Charlie. Ten lucky fans were able to bid to spend a private and intimate hour with the three actors. All three were personable and charming, with none of the entitled airs one might expect of three young men who are constantly being fawned over by women. Nathaniel is a compassionate and inspiring person who’s unwavering faith is a testament to his character. Steven was funny and self-deprecating both qualities I find immediately endearing. Charlie was equally funny and inspiring, speaking openly and with conviction. Sadly the hour flew by too quickly, and they were whisked away to the dance.
The next day started with a rush as I had to be up and ready for a photo op with Paul Wesley, one of the stars of the Vampire Diaries, playing Stefan Salvatore. After the photo with Wesley, I then had to lineup for another photo op with Paul and Ian Somerhalder, who plays Damon Salvatore on the Vampire Diaries. Both stars were personable and tried to make each fan comfortable before the photo, even with a broken finger, Ian was all smiles!
After the photos I attended a half hour Q&A session with Paul Welsey. This session was different from my meet and greet the previous day as it was slightly restrained with assigned seating, but was still a memorable experience. Wesley is professional and funny and it was very interesting to hear his views on how the season has progressed. Welsey was also very interested in hearing fans opinions on current story lines and how the show was being received by its viewers.
Day two panels included a humourous panel with Charlie and Arielle Kebbel, who plays Lexi Branson on the Vampire Diaries. Highlights from the panel include Charlie attempting to lift Arielle a la Dirty Dancing, and the aforementioned Damien shout out.Also on panel day 2 was Torrey Devitto who plays Dr Meredith Fell, and is Paul Wesley wife.
The final panel was the one all attendees had been waiting for: Ian and Paul! The stars did not disappoint constantly joking and keeping the fans amused. Highlights include the 2 actors imitating each other and the running joke of being a married couple.
If you’re attending any of the upcoming conventions I definitely recommend the photo op and autograph sessions, which allow you albeit short but nonetheless face to face moment with each star. And if you are lucky enough to opt for one of the meet and greets take that opportunity you won’t regret it. Also be nice to the celebrity handlers and other volunteers, Tom Turner who was working at Charlie’s autograph booth was nice enough to take the time to answer questions while we waited. Chris Schmelke, is the photographer at all the photo ops, all around nice guy, and was really great too meet him on the weekend. How he survives the onslaught of fans with such patience I’ll never know. Check out his photos of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Most importantly though is interacting with the other fans I’m happy to say I met so many interesting and friendly fans over the weekend.
And as I finally saw daylight for the first time in three days leaving for the airport on Monday, I couldn’t help but reflect on the time I’d spent as a wannabe vampire. Overall my first convention has left me pleasantly surprised, this fangdom that I now proudly admit to belonging is not all screaming teens, and irrational stalkers. The TVDFamily as this fandom is referred to is comprised of a variety of fans from the aforementioned teens to quiet admirers of supernatural dramas. They vary in age, race and gender; that’s right some TVD fans are guys! And yes there were they crying, screaming, begging for a kiss moments all this helps create a wonderful atmosphere of appreciation for the people who make our small screens a little brighter. and if we’re being honest who doesn’t get a little starstruck? I even had my own fangirl moment after the autograph session with Charlie, where I may have asked for a hug. Special thanks go out to Sheena Christie, for joining me in this adventure, Kaitlyn Dailey for her amazing pictures, and Denise Szewc, the concierge at the Westin for going above and beyond to help me. And extra special thanks to Jane Haber at Creation Entertainment for her constant patience with my incessant emails.
Want more from the Chicago Convention check out these amazing sites: Team Teen Supernatural Dramas & TheVampire Diaries Canada.

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3 responses

  1. Pingback: The Art of the Con | Rachel's Rants and Raves

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