Nerds unite! That would be the call from Nerdist editor and Fangirling host Alicia Lutes. Her embrace of the nerd culture has spread far and wide and she continues her work with season two of Fangirling airing now. We talked about the show, embracing the nerd culture, and what else she has planned. Check out what she said now then tune in for her show on Project Alpha.
KRISTIN: You have an incredible following and you do something not a lot of people can do. How did you get into this line of work?
ALICIA: Oh my goodness gracious, it’s pretty wild, isn’t it? I legit pinch myself most days because it is literally absurd to me that I am where I am now. I was always a writer/performer growing up, but took a left turn out of college—afraid I wasn’t good enough to get into any sort of creative career, thanks mom (lol)—and scheduled commercials for MTV as my first out-of-college job in NYC. After several years feeling creatively drained and dissatisfied/frustrated, I took the leap to move to Los Angeles and pursue my dreams of writing about/for television. My roommates in NYC were two brilliant journalists in their own right, Hazel Sheffield and Anna Codrea-Rado, who pushed me to apply for a freelance recapper position at Hollywood.com that I got the DAY I landed in Los Angeles. Fast forward a few years and a TON of freelancing/hustling later and, boom, here we are!
KRISTIN: A lot of people know you from Nerdist. How did you go from doing that to the talk show Fangirling?
ALICIA: I pitched Fangirling fairly early in my Nerdist tenure, to be honest. And I still am the managing editor of Nerdist—I just have this affinity for wearing too many hats at once. (Also I am a total workhorse so just having one job doesn’t make sense to me, lol.) I saw the shows that Dan Casey (The Dan Cave) and Kyle Hill (Because Science) were doing and thought there was a real opportunity to do something that highlighted women’s accomplishments in nerd culture in an interesting, exciting, and Nerdist-y way. It took years of hard work, frustrating but illuminating moments, and a first season that had LITERALLY NO MONEY OR BUDGET where we still managed to have people like Mackenzie Davis and Tatiana Maslany and Wil Wheaton and Lin-Manuel Miranda involved. After the first season, we went back into development and I was given the opportunity to pitch the biggest show of my dreams and have it, mostly, come to life in season two, which is w-i-l-d to me.
KRISTIN: You’re now on Season 2. When you first started, did you know the show would be so successful?
ALICIA: Not even a little bit. I don’t even know by what metric you’d consider the show successful as of yet. I knew women would appreciate these oft-untold stories or underappreciated points of view, but I was truly blown away by how many people have signed up for Alpha because of the series, and to hear/see so many men so excited by the show, too. It’s just been really heartening.
KRISTIN: What can people expect when they tune in for Fangirling?
ALICIA: Oh gosh! A nerdy Fresh Air with some Graham Norton flair? Maybe that’s me speaking far too highly of my own ambitions and personal interview style, but I really wanted to make a show that was intersectional, fun, and fascinating. I wanted deep dives on amazing women, the cool stories being told in entertainment/tech/science, and badass lady commentators that don’t often get the chance to dictate the cultural conversations. It’s just a dope-ass sandbox I want all women and nonbinary folks to feel welcome in.
KRISTIN: You get to collaborate with some amazing pop culture experts and guests. What is that like for you?
ALICIA: WIIIIIIIIIIIILD! So, so, so, so WILD. I mean come ON: getting to talk about Game of Thrones with Phoebe Robinson (2 Dope Queens) and Jonathan Van Ness (Queer Eye, Gay of Thrones)? Geeking out with Kelly Marie Tran and Melissa Rosenberg? Playing D&D for the first time with an all-lady crew? Highlighting creators like Jen Bartel and Jennifer Ashley Wright? Getting life advice from witches? C’MON, I FEEL LIKE JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS, IT’S TRULY OUTRAGEOUS.
KRISTIN: Being a nerd used to have a bad stigma, but now it’s the way to be. There are so many different “nerdy” types. Why do you think this change has come about over the years?
ALICIA: I think there’s an amazing thing happening right now, where people who’ve often been maligned by popular culture are demanding to be heard—and we have the spaces in which to do that on a larger scale than ever before. Say what you want about Facebook and Twitter, but social media has created such an incredible space for discourse that’s typically underserved by popular culture. And it allows us to show the WHOLE of ourselves—if we so choose—rather than the more one-dimensional depictions otherized folks are often “allowed” in the world. We just want to be allowed the sort of variance of character/self/ability as everyone else out there! Things still may feel very black and white, but social media/the internet, if nothing else, allows for a space for a more nuanced human to exist.
Also, we nerds have VERY VIVID IMAGINATIONS AND RICH INTERNAL LIVES, so of COURSE everyone’s coming to comic books and graphic novels and other genre fare for the sort of stories being told right now. Especially when they’re so often allegorical and, well, there’s certainly plenty to discourse about the world’s social goings-on…
KRISTIN: If everything you do had one message, what is it you are trying to get across to people?
ALICIA: Oh gosh, what a question. Probably that there is no such thing as one message? That we should question everything? Dissect things externally and internally? And that women should be allowed to exist in as richly nuanced a landscape as men, and we have to do that with EVERYONE in mind, not just whatever cultural groups/labels to which we ascribe? THIS QUESTION IS IMPOSSIBLE I CONTAIN MULTITUDES!!!!!
KRISTIN: Where can we stay up to date with your career and projects online? Facebook/Twitter/Instagram?
ALICIA: Well, Nerdist is where most of my work exists, although I’m very excited about some of the projects I’m working on outside of work that I can’t really talk about yet! (But soon I hope!) Twitter is my braindump (@alicialutes), Instagram gets most of my whimsy (@alicialutes), and my Facebook is, to be honest, mostly for my grandmother and great-grandmother (she’s 103!) to be able to see what I’m up to in California (they both live in the east coast), but that exists @alicia.lutes, too!
Make sure to follow Alicia on her above listed social media sites and you can catch Fangirling on Project Alpha! New Episodes hit every Wednesday!