For members of the sci-fi community the name Jewel Staite is instantly recognizable. From starship mechanics, to inter-dimensional doctors, Jewel brings a likability and quirky charm to whatever role she inhabits. I’ve been a fan of Jewel for a long time, but like most of you out there she first caught my eye as the unrefined starship mechanic Kaylee on Joss Whendon’s spectacular, yet short lived series Firefly. After Firefly’s tragic and unwarrented execution, Jewel went on to join the cast of Star-Gate: Atlantis, as Dr. Jennifer Keller.
Admittedly the best thing about being a convention rat is getting to meet people you enjoy and admire. Amy Okuda is 1/6th of the megapopular web series “The Guild”. What warrants megapopular you ask? According to the interwebs, The Guild currently has over 45,000,000 upload views on You Tube alone. On top of that The Guild has an exclusive deal with Microsoft that led it to become the first web series to ever be featured on X-box live. Not bad for a show that was turned down by virtually all major studios huh? The best part about The Guild is undoubtedly its heart. Without sounding like a total fanboy, The Guild simply radiates raw creativity and passion. Anyone that has ever played video games or known a gamer can instantly relate to the amazing characters. All of The Guild’s core players are incredibly likable despite their numerous faults, from the supersweet Codex to the mantis queen Tink.
We were lucky enough to get Amy Okuda who plays Tink on The Guild to answer some of our nerdy questions. Amy landed the role of Tink while she was still in high school, and discovered that she was in for a most excellent adventure.
NA – Ash: First off thank you for taking the time to answer some of our questions Amy! We’re all huge fans of The Guild and have really enjoyed watching it grow over the years! On a scale of 1-10, how’s your day going ?
Amy Okuda:10! I got to sleep in today, and when I get my sleep, I’m golden.
NA – Ash: We’ve heard that when you auditioned for the guild you were under the impression that it was a T.V. pilot, and were initially a bit disappointed that it was actually a web series. How do you feel in retrospect?
Amy Okuda: I was definitely slightly disappointed when I found out I was booked on a webseries, but for some reason I never had the desire to quit or leave the show. One, because I loved the character that I was playing and the script was something I’ve never seen or read before, and two, because I was so new to acting that I was willing to do anything to just get some experience and do what I love. But whatever I was feeling at the time I am grateful for, because if I didn’t decide to stick around, I would be so upset with myself right now! Even if it never came to the point where it is now, I think I’d still be glad I did it– I’ve learned so much from doing the show and had so many great experiences.
NA – Ash: (roleplaying time) You wake up in the morning only to discover that acting has been been banned by the U.S. government. If acting were indeed banned tomorrow by the the powers that be, what do you see yourself doing instead?
Amy Okuda: Being an actress wasn’t something I thought about until was a junior or senior in highschool. I wanted to be a dancer at the time and met my current manager, who got me into acting, and I absolutely fell in love. And if I was never allowed to act again, I’d definitely be a pop singer. I have a secret obsession of becoming a pop star.
- “I’d definitely be a pop singer. I have a secret obsession of becoming a pop star.”
NA – Ash: According to what I’ve heard, your personality in real life is the polar opposite of your character in the Guild Tinkerballa. What’s the biggest challenge playing someone so unlike yourself?
Amy Okuda: Haha, I’d like to think I’m VERY different from Tinkerballa, but we do have some similarities. Tink is basically me in elementary and middle school. I was playing basketball at the time and I was such a feisty little kid, not friendly or outgoing at all. I just thought I was so tough you know. I know my parents were even embarrassed to introduce me to their friends because I was so not a likable child! haha. I think I was like that because I was still very unsure of myself and didn’t have much confidence in myself yet, which I think is the issue with Tink. She’s just too insecure and scared to let anyone in, and masks that with her “bitchiness”. Although I’m very different now (thank goodness), I kind of try to pull from that to play her.
NA – Ash: After shooting The Guild, did you ever have the desire to start playing role-playing games like your character Tinkerballa?
Amy Okuda: I have not! It’s a shame cause I’m around it so much. I tried playing WOW, but it took me so long to even pick and create my character, I was too exhausted to even play afterwards. I do love my xbox games that Microsoft gave us like Rock Band, Scene It, etc. I like games that I can play with a bunch of my friends. Felicia Day always throws the best game parties where she sets up different consoles in every room and its awesome!
NA – Ash: Have you gotten a chance to try Kinect or anything else cutting edge in recent months? (It’s sort of crazy how advanced technology is getting.)
Amy Okuda: YES! I played Dance Central on Kinect at Comiccon, and I was so obsessed with it Microsoft sent the cast Dance Central and couple other games! It is amazing I can’t stop playing it. I tried some of the Sports games too at the con and it was amazing. If this is what gaming is coming to now, I can’t even imagine what it is going to be like in 5 years, or even 2!
NA – Ash: By working on The Guild you’ve gotten to travel all over the place to various conventions (I’ve even met you at a few… don’t worry you were totally nice). We were wondering what some of your most fond convention memories were over the years?
Amy Okuda: All the conventions are really fun, but my favorite by far was the Comiccon we premiered the “Do You Wanna Date My Avatar” music video. This was the first time we really got A LOT of attention at the con, and the reaction of the fans during the screening of it was just unforgettable.We were waiting outside the room so we couldn’t see what was going on, but we could just hear the fans screaming basically throughout the whole thing, and it was kind of the first time I really felt and recognized how much the fans appreciate what we do. And then walking into the room after the video ended in our avatar outfits that we wore in the video was a crazy feeling too. Going into a room full of screaming fans that love what you helped create is so rewarding. That video was so tiring to make but it was definitely worth it.
NA – Ash: While the question is a bit cliche’, it’s an important one. Who are some of your biggest influences in the entertainment industry?
Amy Okuda: I don’t really have any specific person that I am influenced by, I try to focus on myself and what I’m doing, not getting stuck on everyone else and trying to keep up with that. But I do really appreciate and applaud actors like Felicia Day who really created a career for themselves. She didn’t wait on anyone or rely on anyone else but herself and creating something like The Guild was a really brave thing for her to do and I really think that is awesome. I don’t know if I’ll be creating and writing my own webseries anytime soon, but I just look up to someone who can make things happen for themselves. So hopefully I can do that with my career, in different ways.
- “… do really appreciate and applaud actors like Felicia Day who really created a career for themselves”
NA – Ash: You’re a dancer right? Did you end up helping out with the choreography on “Date my Avatar?” (Because the video was amazing!)
Amy Okuda: Yes, I am a dancer, that was my first love of performing, but I didn’t help choreograph the video. We hired an amazing choreographer and it worked out so great. She choreographed the “Game On” Bollywood video also. It would have been fun to choreograph, but I think that would just be way too much stress for me to perform AND choreograph!
NA – Ash: You’re about to graduate college from USC this year. (That’s awesome, congratulations!) What are some of your most fond college memories?
Amy Okuda: Sometimes I go through a phase where I feel like if I wasn’t in college, I can focus and move forward with my career more, but I can honestly say my years at USC have been the best time of my life. I think what made my college experience so fun and memorable was being in a sorority. I transferred in my sophomore year so being in a sorority really helped me immerse in the college culture and have a home away from home. Living in one house with 53 girls was also an experience I will not forget, or ever experience in life again! And taking a whole semester class on Steven Spielberg and him coming to give a lecture in class was probably the highlight of my academic life at USC!
- “…taking a whole semester class on Steven Spielberg and him coming to give a lecture in class was probably the highlight of my academic life at USC!”
NA – Ash: If you could create the ultimate role for yourself in a film or television series, what would it be?
Amy Okuda: I’ve always said that I wanted a role where I can dance and act, and now that I have started singing, I want to do all 3! So with that said, it is safe to say that my dream role would be on Glee. It’s also not a secret that I have the biggest crush on Cory Montieth (who plays Finn on the show), so meeting him would be a major plus also!!
NA – Ash: Amy, thank you so much for answering my questions, we here at NerdAppropriate.com salute you!
Amy Okuda: Thank YOU! It was a very fun interview and hopefully we can meet again at a Convention soon!!
NA – Ash: (myself and Nerd Appropriate will be at PAX- East and Comic-Con 2011, see you there!)
Live in L.A.? Want to meet Felicia and Amy from The Guild? They’re doing a signing this month in celebration of The Guild season 4 on DVD. Go check it out and tell them we say hi!
Follow Amy Okuda on Twitter @AmyOkuda
Follow NerdAppropriate on Twitter @NerdAppropriate
Follow Ash on Twitter @Legsarebroken