The Geek Gig: Consetta Parker (Part 1)

Over the last few months, I've connected with some phenomenal people on Twitter who accept my geekiness because they too are geeks.  I've also discovered that many of these people integrate their geek natures into their professional lives, or already work directly in this industry; as such, it seemed fitting to try to connect with as many of them as possible over time and interview them about their careers and lives.

The first interview you all have the pleasure of reading (and I had conducting) is about the lovely, positive, and seemingly ever-cheerful Consetta Parker.  A fellow geek gal, Consetta has had her foot in the Star Wars world for years as the media consultant for Rancho Obi-Wan and a publicist for Star Wars acting talent.  She has a lot to tell about the experience, with just as much passion as one would expect from a fan girl.  Part 1 of this interview reveals her professional side, and Part 2 which will be posted next week will contain some personal sketches, including how she met her very own Stormtrooper husband!

(Note: I have chosen to keep all of Consetta's answers despite their length because I believe they honestly reflect her as a person, and cutting would do her and you all an injustice.)

Consetta with Star Wars author Steve Sansweet.
(Picture copyright Consetta Parker)

Why did you decide to become a publicist, and how were you able to get your foot in the geek publicist world?
I became a publicist by total and complete accident! And thank goodness! I’ll try to give you a brief run down/time line and how it all came together. ;)  My passion for animal welfare landed me a position at a local humane society after I graduated college.  Because of my education in communications they put me into the position of handling public relations and humane education.  I ended up doing regular TV and radio guest spots promoting the shelter and featuring our “pet of the week!”  One of the local radio stations liked the way I sounded on air and ended up offering me a position to co-host the morning show so I was working two jobs for awhile (with animals and in radio, 2 of my goals [in life]!); my work in radio got me a job offer in a larger market and I moved to Cincinnati to work for a bigger radio station and have more responsibility.  I did on-air work, promotions, and voice work.  In radio promotions we did a lot of advance screenings of movies and I learned of a company that worked with all the major studios and handled studio publicity and promotions for various markets in the Midwest.  I had no idea there was such a company and I got really excited!  I thought you had to live in Hollywood to work in the entertainment industry. ;)  So then my journey led me to work for this company and I handled several studios including Dreamworks, MGM, and Miramax, and supervised others like Warner Bros., Disney, Paramount, and Sony. While working here I had the absolute privilege and joy of meeting Harrison Ford during a press junket in NYC. He was perfect. I finally met Han Solo (dream come true). My work in the Midwest for the studios landed me an opportunity to move to LA and work for a larger company that worked directly with studios like Warner Bros., Lionsgate, and Focus Features for LA publicity and promotions.  While working in LA, a random conversation and meeting on a Friday afternoon led me to be working at Skywalker Ranch the following Monday to work the press junket for Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith... it was a dream come true and it was the most amazing experience. I felt I’d finally “made it” to my ultimate goal. I was blissfully happy and loved being the go-to person for the press if they had any random Star Wars questions or just wanted to talk about Star Wars!  I had no idea what was about to happen at lead me towards the geeky side of publicity… doors began opening and more and more of my goals started becoming a reality. 
Consetta with James Arnold Taylor
(Picture copyright of Consetta Parker)
What's the most unique geeky thing you've stumbled across or experienced in your publicist job? 
I’ve been so fortunate to have many amazing experiences over the years.  Obviously, meeting a stormtrooper while working a press junket at Skywalker Ranch is undoubtedly galactic tops for me since I married him! Ha! But as I mentioned earlier, I got to meet Harrison Ford (twice actually -- and yes, he remembered me which made my life feel more complete), I also got to walk Billy Dee Williams down a red carpet for a movie premiere in LA which was an unexpected delight, and I’ve got to meet and work with various Star Wars talent over the years working media events and that’s how I met my current clients (and dear friends) James Arnold Taylor and Catherine Taber! It was a random conversation with them that actually inspired me to start my own publicity company.
What's your favorite thing about being involved in the Star Wars universe?  
Star Wars led me to the love of my life… so sharing the joy and love of Star Wars with my trooper is truly a gift I’ll always treasure. :)
Who is your geek role model, your professional role model, or are they one in the same?  Why? 
As corny as it may sound I’d have to say when I was little one of my role models was undoubtedly Princess Leia.  I wanted to be like her -- she was strong and a leader, she got to kiss Han, she had a Wookiee friend etc… She inspired me. :)  I also always looked up to my parents and I still do. They were always there for me and supported me every step of the way. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support of my folks. I cannot thank them enough for all they have done. I truly believe I have the best Mom and Dad in the galaxy! As far as a professional role model I’d have to say all the strong women in the entertainment industry I’ve had the privilege of working with and knowing. It’s a very tough industry and you’ve got to work hard and continually prove yourself. If I ever felt overwhelmed or unsure of myself I’d simply look to the women around me pushing through and it inspired me to keep going. I developed a strength over the years I never knew I had in me and I will forever be grateful for that.
Do you find that the professional world in general is becoming more accepting of geek culture?  
In general, yes, I do. I remember being on conference calls and in meetings with various studios years ago brainstorming for sci-fi films and hearing the confused or negative “tone” in some voices. Obviously, I was always excited to work on these types of films and enjoyed feeling more “tuned in” and trying to come up with ideas that would be fun for “us” -- those of us that “got it.” Over the years I have noticed the tone has changed and I believe the studios and media outlets understand the geek culture better.  Some may not necessarily  like it, but there is more of an acceptance and motivation to appeal to the geek masses. I also feel movement has also been a double-edged sword. You can see it now in regard to events like San Diego Comic-Con.  Major studios jumped in full swing and have had a massive presence at Comic-Con over the last several years (much to the dislike of many in feeling Hollywood was trying to take over). I remember thinking, “Ok, this is good, but they’re kind of preaching to the choir here.  We are the target demographic.  We don’t need much convincing to go see the sci-fi summer blockbusters.” Tons of money has been put into Comic-Con by the studios and during the convention the response is normally huge and positive. So whenever there is a summer box office failure in major studio productions of sci-fi, action, and superhero films, the tone slips back into thinking we are not the numbers or masses they thought. I think we’re in an interesting time right now as far as trying to find a middle ground and observing the learning curve in that geek culture is so much more than any ONE convention or event.
Filming for Star Wars: Rise of the Consultants.
(Picture copyright Consetta Parker)
Do you have any upcoming projects you'd like to share?  I've heard hints of SyFy... :) 
There are various things on the horizon indeed! I am beyond excited to be going with James Arnold Taylor (JAT) and working with him at Star Wars Celebration 6 this August.  JAT is the main stage host so he’ll be working non-stop and we’re working on plans and scheduling now… I think SW fans will be very happy at C6! ;)  My trooper and I also just worked on and filmed for a new reality show… I can’t give too many details YET, but I can tell you it involves Star Wars (guess that’s not much of a surprise, huh?). I suppose I could give another little hint: SyFy. ;) It was an amazing experience and we are still recovering from it all.  The entire film crew was wonderful and I’ve made not only new professional contacts but also personal ones. I have come to terms with that fact I’ll most likely come across looking completely ridiculous… and I’m ok with that. When I was younger I used to be afraid to be who I was and I lost myself for awhile. I never wanted to forget or pretend to be anyone other than who I was again so I decided to just go all in and let my geek flag fly!  So if people want to poke fun or think I’m a total spaz then I accept that 100% and have no regrets. Life is too short to worry about what everyone thinks… at some point you have to let it go and just be. :)
If you could give one piece of advice to developing professionals in the geek world, what would it be? 
Follow your passion, believe in yourself, and your dreams will come true.  I know it may sound simple or lame but I believe it with all my heart. So many things in life distract us or throw us off course. We end up settling, feeling too old, giving up, or losing hope. It may take a very long time and you may feel lost at times. Remember to look up and forward… not down and back.   Believe in who you are and what you want to achieve. There is always magic in the air and dreams DO come true every day.
And remember, the Force will be with you… always. :)

Be sure to come back next week to catch Part 2 of Consetta's interview to find out how her Trooper proposed to her, armor and all!


Post a Comment