Tag Archives: King of the Nerds

The Huzzah Heard ‘Round the Nerd World

For the past ten weeks, us commanders of the Nerd Army (under the leadership of reigning king Kayla LaFrance) and with the help of those amazing nerds who volunteered have worked incredibly hard to convince TBS to renew King of the Nerds for a third season.

With the 1-2-3 Punch created by Kayla and our own Minister of Propaganda Melissa Corley, endless tweets and memes were sent out like beacons in hopes that TBS would see them and renew the show.  At times things seemed bleak. There were moments where maintaining hope was hard. But guys all that paid off because THE. SHOW. WAS. RENEWED!!!

That’s right. TBS has renewed King of the Nerds for a third season. Filming will commence this summer and the show will air in January of next year. Nerdvana’s doors will open once again.  Curtis Armstrong and Robert Carradine will be back in amazing cosplay guiding nerds through competitions that will test them deeply. And we’ll even get to see how the throne will become empty.

Now some of you out there may be asking, “Why make such a big deal out of this? It’s just another reality show”. Well, that’s where you’re wrong. KOTN is much more than just another reality show and this fact rings true for not only me, but also many many nerds alike.

King of the Nerds has provided images and examples of nerds to look up to that television has not had before. It has helped nerds become more comfortable in who they are. King of the Nerds has even opened doors to a community where nerds can feel safe and be in solidarity with other people like them.

Through Curtis Armstrong’s (Papa Nerd as many affectionately refer to him) efforts, something that changes and moves people was created. We couldn’t just let another season go by without KOTN on television. Other nerds who haven’t found the comfort and inspiration that we found in the show need to see a season. And it is also because of this that we can rejoice in the news of its renewal.

With that said, the battle isn’t over just yet. Per Kayla’s orders, we still need to get nerds over to @KOTNCasting. If you know anyone that is interested tell them to email casting at KingOfTheNerdsCasting@gmail.com. Also, and this is a big also, PLEASE send a ton of thanks in the direction of @tbsveryfunny.

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Interview with Brian Davidson of TBS’ King of the Nerds #NerdsRule

Please welcome the Hipster Hobbit himself, Brian Davidson.

I have been incredibly excited about this interview. Brian was the first contestant I reached out to on Twitter, and the first I received a response from. More than anything he and his kind words of encouragement are the reason I will be audition for the third season; as long as there is a third season.

Most of all, he is a nerd after my own heart. Not only is he a History and book nerd, Brian is what we can call a renaissance nerd; a nerd of all things nerdy. He even helped me accept myself as a nerd more than I have been able to for quite a while.

Since about the mid-point of season one, I have played with the idea of auditioning for the show. Unfortunately, as a nerd is wont to do, I was a bit insecure about fitting in or being nerdy enough.  I’m not an engineer. I’m not a science or math guy. I can talk ALL day about the theological and philosophical undertones of Superman, other superheroes, and various science fiction stories. I can discuss the canon of MMPR or talk video game until I’m blue in the face. But I still feel like I wouldn’t fit in.

A conversation with Brian changed my mind. He confided that he felt the same way, but still auditioned. Once in the house that diffidence faded away.

Suffice it to say, if I get on the show I will make a few Hipster Hobbit shirts to wear. Or make sure to wear some ironic t-shirts in his honor.

Before you enjoy the interview itself, meet Brian Davidson once more, or for the first time:

Jarrod:  Growing up, who were your major influences? Were they in the field you are pursuing now?

Brian:  Rather than any celebrities, my biggest influences were my teachers. So, inasmuch as I’m in the education field (academic librarianship), we’re in similar fields. That said, authors–particularly science fiction authors–definitely influenced me at a young age. Despite what you saw me say to Nerdbot, Isaac Asimov was actually one of my heroes–I even dressed up as him in elementary school!

Jarrod:  Did you have anyone in your life that helped you believe in who you were as a person? Friends? Family?

Brian:  My family has always been extremely supportive of me, both as a nerd and as a person in general, as have my teachers. I had a small, but tight circle of nerdy friends throughout school, and we bonded over Star Trek and computers. By the time I was in high school, I found a very supportive community through a handful of online roleplaying games (text-based MU*s, not any of these newfangled MMORPGs!). I credit all of these people with helping to inspire my greatest asset, which is my curiosity!

Jarrod:  How did you decide to audition for the show? Was it on a whim? Or did someone encourage you?

Brian:  My audition story is actually kind of funny. Back in 2008, I was working for my alma mater in the LA area, and I was approached while eating lunch by a scout looking for cast members for a different geeky-themed reality show. I submitted application materials and went pretty far along in the process until the show was canceled. Fast-forward to 2013. I apparently made an impression on some Hollywood types and stayed in their rolodexes, because they called me and asked me to audition for KotN!

Jarrod:  What was the audition process like?

Brian:  The audition was intense — basically it involved sending in multiple videos highlighting my nerdy strengths and personality, and responding to some pretty in-depth questionnaires. Several finalists then interviewed with the producers, and the rest is history!

Jarrod:  We got a good idea of everyone’s areas of study or their profession. Was there anything in particular any of you were doing or working on prior to being on the show?

Brian:  We actually filmed KotN right before I started library school. I already have a master’s in European history, but I’ve been wanting to break into academic librarianship for some time. I’m now in the middle of my program, studying academic librarians and, in particular, special collections and archives. I work part-time at my school’s rare book library, which is fantastic experience. Besides, what other jobs allow you to handle Gutenberg bibles?! [Drooooool. Let the jealous geek out commence.]

Jarrod:  It was great to see a fellow History nerd on the show. When did you realize that History and the study of historical events had stolen your heart?

Brian:  I came to history almost by accident. In high school, I was actually more into biology and math, but I always had a healthy appreciation for the humanities. In college, I happened to take a fantastic course of British Romantic poetry, and one William Blake stole my heart. As I learned more about Blake and his quasi-prophetic poems, I started reading more about British history and about Napoleon, with whom the Romantics had a very love/hate relationship. Eventually, my interests traveled backwards in time somewhat, but I am still captivated by the “unseen” aspects of history — not the kings and political figures, but the transformation of culture and society at a lower level.

Jarrod:  What is your favorite historical era? Historical figure?

Brian:   I’m generally interested in the later end of the “early modern period,” so pretty much the 17th and 18th centuries. While I’ve primarily studied Britain, I’m also interested in the American colonies and in France.  As for historical figure, well…Napoleon is still pretty captivating even though he falls outside of my chronological range now (and he’s also certainly NOT one of the neglected “unseen” figures in history). I’m fond of James Boswell as well — he invented what we think of as biographies today, and his private journals are full of wonderful anecdotes about 18th century life.

Jarrod:  For those that do not know, you are pursuing a professional degree in Library Science. Is that correct?

Brian:  I sure am! I’m working on a master’s in information at the University of Illinois. [Oskee Wow Wow!]

Jarrod:  What are your hopes for your future in Library Science? What do you plan on doing?

Brian:  I would love to have a career as an academic librarian; I love being in an intellectual environment like a college or university and, as a librarian, I’ll get to have a hand in all kinds of diverse research projects and work with both students and scholars. Librarianship can be a great career if, like me, your interests are just too broad!

Jarrod:  What were your initial feelings when you first arrived at Nerdvana (best reality show campus name ever, by the way)?

Brian:  Ha! I was the first one who walked out and saw Bobby and Curtis in front of Nerdvana’s façade. So my very first thoughts were, “Wow! Uhh..the sun is real bright here. Umm..where is everyone else? Is this real life?”

Start watching at the 2 min 55 sec mark:

Once the other nerds came out, I was pretty anxious about whether or not Iwould be able to get along with them.  My fear, though, was soon assuaged!

Jarrod:  Other than what was shown on camera and in the show, what was Nerdvana like? Did the viewers receive a pretty good illustration of what the house was like?

Brian:  I think that viewers got a pretty good illustration of Nerdvana, although it was of course a bit condensed. There was candy pretty much everywhere, as well as a popcorn machine and a “nerdee slurpee” machine, and things to play with everywhere! Shuffleboard, pool, video games, Rubik’s cubes…you name it! There were also a lot of fantastic board games — we spent a lot of time playing Dominion. [Best. Game. Ever. Obviously]

Jarrod:  The viewers didn’t get to see much of the good-byes other than the player being eliminated and then leaving Nerdvana. Was there more to the good-byes than what was shown on camera?

 Brian:  Not much! The goodbyes were pretty short, and then that was that — the eliminated nerd was whisked off to get summarily executed by Bobby and Curtis. It made the goodbyes that much harder to go through, although we extended them by giving each nerd a toast once we got back to Nerdvana (you saw some of these). We also would occasionally find some goodbye notes left in our rooms by banished nerds.

Jarrod:  Throughout the season, and especially during the finale, we had the pleasure of experiencing Xander’s musical stylings. Was this a regular thing? Did he put on shows off camera?

Brian:  Xander definitely had a chance to show off his amazing voice a few times–notably during the LARP challenge, where he and Katie and a really fantastic “spellsinging duel.” There was also at least one night where a group of us drowned our sorrows by singing show tunes together.

To relive the epic “spellsinging duel” watch starting at 13 min 15 sec:

Jarrod:  What is the story behind Bacon, the Nerdvana house friend?

Brian:  I found Bacon in the purple room on our first night, and he’s been with me ever since! I’m told that he comes from ThinkGeek, but I like to think that he set off on his own quest to make it to Nerdvana on his own, with the goal of proving that he was the nerdiest of all the bacons. You should hear that guy tell stories, though — he’s a riot! [Methinks this is a friendship that will go down in history as one of the greatest. Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh. Sam and Frodo. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. Lloyd and Harry. Now Brian and Bacon.]

Here is the Between Two Nerds origins video again so you can see the moment the friendship began:

Jarrod:  What was your favorite part of the experience at Nerdvana?

 Brian:  It’s so hard to pick one thing! The challenges were great fun and living in Nerdvana itself was incomparable. I might say, though, that my favorite part was when the banished nerds returned during the finale. It had been getting lonely in Nerdvana, and it was so good to see old friends again!

The banished nerds return at about the 12 min 25 sec mark:

Jarrod:  How did you guys pass your time between Nerd Wars, etc.? Anything you can share that we may not have seen on camera?

Brian:  As I mentioned before, we played a lot of Dominion. Some people were partial to pool or the video games, and there were also some fun tools in the RadioShack lab, including quad copters (you got to see me play with one!) and “hex bugs.” [Hex Bugs are soooooo awesome.] There definitely was down time, but we were generally kept pretty busy.

Jarrod:  Does anyone have hidden talents we didn’t get to see?

Brian:  I’m sure we all have hidden talents — Chirs and Nicole especially are FULL OF SECRETS. Katie knows huge amounts of random trivia, particularly about American presidents. I can’t think of anything else in particular, but one great thing about our group was that no matter what kind of interest anyone had or reference anyone made, there was always at least one other nerd who “got it.”

Jarrod:  Other than George Takei, Bill Nye, and other nerd deities you have had the chance to meet on the show, have you had the chance to meet any amazing nerds?

Brian:  I’ve briefly met some great authors like Salman Rushdie and Orhan Pamuk, and I’ve met/taken classes from some professors who are pretty legendary in their fields, but they’re probably not household names.

Jarrod:  How has your life changed since the show?

Brian:  Not particularly! I get recognized occasionally, which is always quite amusing to me, but for the most part I’m just hiding away in my hobbit hole full of books, working towards becoming a librarian.

Jarrod:  Most importantly, whether you guys realize it or not, but you have become heroes and inspirations to nerds alike. You have become examples of accepting one’s self for who one is, and to never deny the greatness of who you are. How do you feel about fans looking to you in that way?

Brian:  Aww! I’m really flattered, and I hope that I can live up to fans’ expectations. It’s pretty wild, though — a while ago, @SotoSage tweeted me that I had inspired him to start reading again. That was one of the most touching tweets I’d received yet. It’s an incredible honor to be able to inspire nerds to take a bit more pride in themselves and maybe poke their heads out of their shells a bit!

Jarrod:  Who originally dubbed you the “Hipster Hobbit”?

Brian:  I think it was Katie, actually! The “hobbit” part kind of goes without saying, and the two of us were probably the most “hipsterish” nerds on the show (although, for the record, I’m not actually a hipster. Your first clue to that is the fact that I call myself one. 🙂 ) [And here I was under the impression one only had to grow an impressive beard to be considered a hipster these days]

Jarrod:  And I’m sure everyone is curious about this, but how long did it take for you to perfect AMAZING Gollum impersonation?

Brian:  Ha! I actually don’t think I’ve ever really had to work on it. I guess a little bit of Gollum just lives inside of me. By the way, that ring you’re holding looks awfully…precious…

Umm… this is the point where I run away as fast as I can, albeit not very fast. 

*tosses ring behind me*

________

I hope you guys enjoyed the interview as much as I did. The next interview is TBA.

Don’t forget to take the survey and bug TBS (@tbsveryfunny) to get the show renewed. Also, use #nerdsrule as MUCH as you can.

Interview with Kayla LaFrance of TBS’ King of the Nerds #NerdsRule

All hail the Queen of Nerds.. Kayla!

Er…well… she actually prefers Captain, so…

Captain LaFrance has entered the bridge!

By the time she was crowned, Kayla proved that she was a force to be reckoned with. And she did it while using quite the cloaking device. Her pure joy for all things nerdy and in Nerdvana was such a joy to watch, but she also did it while quietly being a very important part of her team.

She avoided being in any Nerd Offs, and proved vital to winning several Nerd Wars. Furthermore it was her strategic choices of nerd helpers for the Nerdliminator and willingness to utilize that help that proved to be paramount in her victory.

Now before reading the interview meet Kayla LaFrance once more, or for the first time:

Also, go ahead a relive the moment of her crowning:

Jarrod:  Growing up, who were your major influences? Were they in the field you are pursuing now?

Kayla:  I was 9 years old when Captain Janeway took command of the USS Voyager and that left a HUGE mark on me every since. I know she might not be the fan favorite or the best of the Star Trek Captains, however, Janeway was able to inspire me in a way that Kirk, Picard and Sisko never could. Janeway was shown as a strong leader in charge of a starship and crew and also a brilliant scientific mind. Seeing a female in that role really inspired me, and to this day I remain devoted to her crew, and the role model that she is.

 The other two people that I have looked up to since my pre-teen years would be Dr. Werner von Braun and Gene Kranz. Both of these gentleman played very large roles in the history of the space race.  Von Braun was the mastermind behind the Saturn rockets that sent man to the moon and Kranz was a Flight Director in Mission Control as those men walked on the moon. They both serve as excellent examples of great leadership and that perseverance and determination are keys to success.

Jarrod:  How did Janeway’s impact on your life come about? We know that you love Star Trek, but was there something specifically about her character that spoke to you?

In general it comes down to the fact that we both have matching double X-chromosomes. Yes she is a girl and so am I. But one thing to consider is that I was only 9 years old when Voyager hit the TV. I was a nine year old girl that LOVED Star Trek and science. I knew all about Picard and Kirk and Sisko. They are all great captains in their own right, but none of them could inspire me like Janeway could.

Nine year old me was absolutely amazed to see a strong female in a leadership role.  I saw a respected captain that would not back down from a fight, but would try diplomacy first; a woman scientist that would work with her crew to solve problems and was respected for her brains; and I saw a strong leader.  I followed that crew and idolized that captain from age 9-16. It made me want to grow up and be a strong leader who is respect for her abilities and not because of her looks or gender.

Janeway may not be the fan fave captain, and she might not be the best written. Nevertheless, she made a huge impact on me and at age 28. I still wish I could be even half of the leader and mentor that she was to her crew and to me.

 And let me tell you this. Kate Mulgrew is an amazing woman in her own right. I have had the privilege to talk with her and meet her on several separate occasions now, and she always is humble and encouraging; a true role model on and off the screen.

kaylawkatemulgrew
Photo Courtesty of Kayla LaFrance

Jarrod:  Other than Captain Janeway, who is your favorite character and why?  We’ve seen the brass-balled Janeway style, but who else do you admire?

Kayla:  Janeway is really the only fictional character that I have taken such a huge admiration too over the years. The only other people that I admire are real life influential people such as Amelia Earhart, Dr. Werner von Braun and Gene Kranz.

Sure I obsess over Batman, but never see him as a true role model or inspiration in my daily life.

batgirl_begins__-_Copy
Photo Courtesy of Kayla LaFrance

Jarrod:  Did you have anyone in your life that helped you believe in who you were as a person? Friends? Family?

Kayla:  My grandpa LaFrance was always there for me and always was willing to teach me everything he knew. The ultimate lesson that he taught me was to “Never change who you are.” All the time spent in the field or the garage with him and all of the things that he taught me about cars and tools was all secondary to his overlying message to always be me and to be proud of who I am.

Photo Courtesy of Kayla LaFrance
Photo Courtesy of Kayla LaFrance

I was also greatly motivated and inspired by my 7th grade science teacher, Mr. Thomas Herrmann. He was the teacher that told me to stop fooling around with Star Trek and to take the time to discover what was really out in the universe. He changed my perspective on school and was the starting thread in a tapestry of a life devoted to space exploration and astronomy.

Jarrod:  How did you decide to audition for the show? Was it on a whim? Or did someone encourage you?

Kayla:  A little bit of both. When I heard about KOTN before the 1st season I was very interested and intrigued. I talked it over with a few of my closest friends, and they all agreed with me that it would never hurt to go ahead and give it a go.

Jarrod:  What was the audition process like?

Kayla:  I had a different path than my fellow contestants. I had tried to get on season 1 and was asked to come to LA for the last selection phase; however, I turned KOTN down when I was offered a chance to spend the summer working at NASA Ames on some Mars exploration research. When they started casting for season 2 they contacted me and asked if I wanted to give it another go, I was thrilled! It is not every day that you have such a unique opportunity come up twice. I still had to start at the beginning and go through the same selection process as everyone else. Nevertheless, when I made it to the final 11, it felt like a long 2-year journey was finally culminating in one of the best adventures I could imagine.

Season 1:

    1. Submitted a bio and photos – was asked to send in a video answering set questions.
    2. I made and submitted 1 video  – asked to fill out a questionnaire
    3. Submitted answers – then was asked to come to LA
    4. Turned down KOTN

Season 2:

    1. Asked to make an updated video if I was still interested
    2. Fill out updated questions
    3. Came to LA with the top 20 or so for final interviews
    4. Made top 11 to go into Nerdvana

 Jarrod:  We got a good idea of everyone’s areas of study or their profession. Was there anything in particular any of you were doing or working on prior to being on the show?

Kayla:  I am currently looking for employment post graduation. This means that I really do not have anything fancy to brag about. I would love to start working within my industry or continue my education with a PhD program by this summer.  Though, you might be interested to know that I did my independent research for my MS on “The Organization of Mission Control during Manned Surface Exploration of Mars.”

Jarrod:  What were your initial feelings when you first arrived at Nerdvana (best reality show campus name ever, by the way)?

Kayla:  The Journey Begins… Going into Nerdvana reminded me of the anticipation that one would feel on the first day of school when you did not know your classmates or teacher yet. However, it was also as exciting as the first day of summer vacation!

Jarrod:  Other than what was shown on camera and in the show, what was Nerdvana like? Did the viewers receive a pretty good illustration of what the house was like?

Kayla:  Nerdvana was a safe haven. It was fun. From the moment you walk in you are surrounded by all things nerd – statutes and posters, robots and games, computers and soldering irons. Everywhere you go in Nerdvana was dedicated to the game and to the nerd culture.  The rec room always had something fun or stupid going on. The Radio shack lab was an engineer’s DREAM. I lived in that room by the end of my stay at Nerdvana. The bed rooms were always comfy and relaxing and the war rooms were always well stocked and ready for action! From the moment you get there until the heartbreaking moment when you live. Nerdvana feels like home.

Jarrod:  The viewers didn’t get to see much of the good-byes other than the player being eliminated and then leaving Nerdvana. Was there more to the good-byes than what was shown on camera?

Kayla:  We had a letter tradition. Every nerd that left Nerdvana would leave letters behind. Some nerds would write an individual letter for each remaining contestant, while others would leave a note per team. In the Orion – that is the name the Titans of Rigel gave to our room – we turned Kelsey’s bed into the memorial bed. We placed a wampa rug on the bed, our mascot Hydra, and all of the notes would collect there until the last Titan remained. On the last day we slip the notes up. I have all of my individual notes and a few team notes as well in my memorabilia from my time at KOTN.

Jarrod:  Throughout the season, and especially during the finale, we had the pleasure of experiencing your musical stylings. Was this a regular thing? Did you put on shows off camera? 

Kayla:  Xander is one of my best friends from that experience, and yes. He is a character at all times. An absolute gentle giant who is full of life and energy!

Jarrod:  What is the story behind Bacon, the Nerdvana house friend?

Kayla:  In our rooms we all were given slippers and some form of stuffed animal from Think Geek. Bacon was on Brian’s bed and he just LOVED bacon. We took him to the Radio Shack lab to feed him some batteries and the rest was history. Bacon became a stress reliever for the Titans. His “I’m Bacon” saying would fill awkward moments and leave us all in giggles, a comedic distraction during challenging and stressful days.

Jarrod:  What was your favorite part of your experience at Nerdvana?

Kayla:  I would have to say that the best part of Nerdvana was the people, both on and off the screen. While at Nerdvana, I was surrounded by nerds and people of the highest caliber who made the experience what it was for me. There was always something to learn from one of the nerds about a fandom that they enjoy more than I do, there were always reasons to laugh and enjoy the moment – even in the midst of battle and competition.

The people that ran the show and kept things moving forward were a privilege to work with as well. Whether they were keeping us fed, keeping us safe, or throwing us into some really amazing challenges, they all loved their job, loved the show, and wanted to make sure that we nerds enjoyed the journey that we shared with them. Then there was Bobby and Curtis – Amazing Nerd Gents.

Photo Courtesy of TBS
Photo Courtesy of TBS

Amazing people all around.

Jarrod:  How did you guys pass your time between Nerd Wars, etc.? Anything you can share that we may not have seen on camera?

Kayla:  We did have a lot of fun at Nerdvana. The viewers see such a tiny and selected part of our time there. For the Titans of Rigel, we had a lot of nights were we did not have to worry about votes and the next coming days. This meant we had a lot of free time on our hands to mess around. “Between Two Nerds” is a great example of that!

While there were still a lot of Nerds in the house we would pass the time playing table top games. As the numbers began to dwindle, we found ourselves playing more individual games on the computer. By the time we were down to the last 6, I was ALWAYS in the Radio Shack room building something. It was my way of trying to shave off some of the tension and stress and find some time away from the others.

As for other lighthearted moments that have not been seen. There are two of them:

    • Chris loves to solve rubik’s cubes. We would sit there and solve one after another after another. After a few days, he had at least 20 solved cubes lying around. Therefore, I decided to go through and scramble them all up. I left them on the pool table for him to find. For the next few days, I would covertly scramble every cube he solved. Once he realized it was me he would try and hid them. It became a fun little game.
    • The night after the debate Xander and I spent hours singing Broadway musicals. Wicked, Avenue Q, Rent and Les Mes. During this time, I went through a 2 liter Mt. Dew and was feeling pretty high on a sugar rush and good vibes. The viewers saw the aftermath of that event, in my very giddy interviews and my epic goggle/Google moment.

Here is that moment [**EDIT** The video was supposed to start at the exact moment but for some reason the link is not working. Start watching at 35 min 50 sec]:

And another one of my favorite Kayla moments from the same episode [**EDIT** The video was supposed to start at the exact moment but for some reason the link is not working. Start watching at 34 min 40 sec]:

I think we all can relate to having moments such as these when our behavior is fueled by intense Mt. Dew/sugar rushes. 

Jarrod:  Does anyone have hidden talents we didn’t get to see?

Kayla:  I would have to say that we all do. For me, I never did get to go ice skating on the show! Though on one of our off days Xander and I did go ice skating and he was not that bad for someone that had only skated a handful of times in his life! (Yes I brought my personal pair of skates to Nerdvana with me! Ha! ) 

Jarrod:  Other than George Takei, Bill Nye, and other nerd deities you have had the chance to meet on the show, have you had the chance to meet any amazing nerds?

Kayla:  This is a question I really cannot answer. Not simply at least. I have a long list of astronauts that I have rubbed elbows with ranging from Buzz Aldrin to Clay Anderson, Cady Coleman and much more. I have had the chance to meet Phil Plait and John Dobson and other names in astronomy that I respect. Since I was about 14 years old, I have gone to space camps and astronomy conventions, astronomy organizations and student group seminars. This has really opened the door to meet some amazing people in my chosen field of study.

Then there are the years that I have gone to Dragon*Con, Trek Conventions, and other fan conventions that has opened the door to meet some of the nerd cultures most believed characters. I am currently on a mission to have a photo taken with every actor of Star Trek I can. At this point I am about 50% through the major roles and 30% through minor roles.

Jarrod:  How has your life changed since the show?

Kayla:  I feel like it is a little too early to tell at this point. I hope that the show will be able to open some new opportunities for me in the near future.

Jarrod:  What has it been like living in a male-dominated nerd world? Have you been faced with trouble or ridicule because female nerds aren’t the “right kind of nerdy” or because females don’t belong? Is this a reality you have dealt with?

Kayla:  This has not really an issue that I have faced. I have always been more of a tomboy. I have played sports with the guys and worked on cars with the guys. I am very use to being the only girl around. I suppose this has taught me to be very blunt and assertive when in a male-dominated environment. I do not ask for special treatment because I am a girl and I expect to be treated equally.  I can keep up with the guys and make sure that they all know that I am not someone to take lightly because of my double X-chromosomes. If they call into question my nerd-cred, then I defend myself. Usually all that takes is spitting out some random fact that is not known by a “general” fan and they usually back off. It might also help that I have a way of intimidating most guys too. 😉

Jarrod:  Do you have anything to say to perhaps young people who may think girls shouldn’t be nerdy? Or maybe to young females who love science or other subjects, but are discouraged from pursuing them because of their gender?

Kayla:  There really should not be a separate message here- the same message I would give to a young man I would also give to a young lady. And this is what I would tell the next generation:

 Find your passion. No matter what it might be, find it, hold on to it and follow it. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. If people tease you, forget about them, because before you know it you are out of school and you leave those people behind forever.

Find the thing that motivates you and drives you to achieve your goals. When you have passion then you can work past hiccups in the road and you can find new ways to get what you want. When you follow your passion you will always have something to look forward to and will always be working towards something that makes you happy.

Following your passion might also take you out of your comfort zone, but the growth you experience will be amazing. So be ready to say ‘Yes’ when you want to say ‘No’. Say ‘Goodbye’ when you want to say ‘Hello’. And surround yourself with a good crew to help support you.

Follow your dreams with passion.

Jarrod:  Whether you guys realize it or not, you have become heroes and inspirations to nerds alike. You have become examples of accepting one’s self for who one is, and to never deny the greatness of who you are. How do you feel about fans looking to you in that way?

Kayla:  It feels great. That was always the message that my grandpa tried to teach me, so to have the chance to show others the same thing through my own actions, is a great honor to myself and to my grandfather’s memory.

Jarrod:  How do you feel about possibly being to young females who Captain Janeway was to you?

Kayla:  Even before KOTN, I had hoped that one day I would be able to have that kind of impact on some of the younger girls that I meet. I would be honored if I could influence just one young woman to follow her dreams with passion and to never change who she is. Heck, I would be happy if I could have even a small fraction of the impact on someone that Janeway had on me.

Jarrod:  For females who have been singled out because of their gender, how do you recommend responding? How do you react?  Tell them off, or is that feeding the trolls?

Kayla:  The best way to deal with someone that doubts your ability is to prove them wrong. You do not have to make a big show of it, just work hard and accomplish your goal. When you do, the person that doubted you will have no room to talk. I had dealt with a lot of crap from school bullies over my dreams of space growing up, and I always would ignore them, but would make a mental note. I turned my anger and sadness over my peer’s actions towards me into fuel to feed my determination. Instead of fighting back or hiding, I would hold my head up high and follow my dreams. I always knew that I would get the laugh last because of that!

Jarrod:  Do you have any words of encouragement for young female nerds that may feel like they don’t have a place in science or are singled out?

Kayla:  Never give up, never change, and stay strong. You will preserver and you will win in life.  You are the only person that can tell you what you can and cannot do with the destiny of your life. If you want a place in science then go for it! No one can tell you no. If you fail a test or are struggling in a topic it is not the end of the world. It just means to try again. It does not mean that you are stupid, that you are not qualified to be called a nerd, or that you cannot succeed. Failing a test or a class does indicate that you need to tackle the problem from a different angle. Do not give up, do not give in; fight for what you want and try again. Never let a failure win, always try again. Never let someone tell you that you can not do something, always try it for yourself.

________

I hope you guys enjoyed the interview as much as I did. There will be a break in the interviews for a bit. I am waiting on responses from other cast members who are, quite understandably, rather busy.

Don’t forget to take the survey and bug TBS (@tbsveryfunny) to get the show renewed. Also, use #nerdsrule as MUCH as you can.

Interview with Chris Jackson of TBS’ King of the Nerds #NerdsRule

Much like the Rubik’s Cube, Chris Jackson was a puzzle I could not solve. At first it seemed like he was going to play the game while staying in the background. Then he would assert himself ONLY when necessary, and then just slink back into the shadows. He truly was KOTN’s man of mystery.

It served him well as he just missed the final four. Regardless of what we saw on camera, my interview with him proved one thing: maybe he’s not so mysterious.

Before you enjoy the interview itself, meet Chris Jackson once more, or for the first time:

Jarrod:  Growing up, who were your major influences? Were they in the field you are pursuing now?

Chris:  Growing up my major influences were my parents (cliché I know).  My dad used to work for one of the IBM computer manufacturing divisions, and he taught me everything he knew about computers. My mom is a certified public accountant, and she always encouraged me to pursue a career that involved using my head. For the longest time I wanted to work somewhere in the computer science field, but I found the work to be tedious, frustrating, and not fun at times. I ended up switching to engineering (which is awesome) while I was at Rice University.

Jarrod:  Did you have anyone in your life that helped you believe in who you were as a person? Friends? Family?

Chris:  Yes! My brother definitely helped me to believe in myself.  Regardless of our brotherly disputes, he inculcated into me an inquisitive mindset.  This mindset, he taught me, didn’t have to be toward my surrounding world but could also be directed toward myself.  My mom was also very inspiring because she always encouraged me to better myself regardless of the accolades I received.  My family has always encouraged me to try my best regardless of outside expectations, and I think that has greatly helped me throughout my life.  They both have helped me greatly in learning to just be me.

Jarrod:  How did you decide to audition for the show? Was it on a whim? Or did someone encourage you?

Chris: Ha! I auditioned as a joke.  I was actually trying to get my coworkers to audition, and I was demonstrating how easy it was to apply.  Turns out that none of my coworkers applied.  Oh well.

Jarrod:  What was the audition process like?

Chris:  For me the audition process was very surreal.  I never expected a response from my initial application and then I kept getting called back.  After every call back, I thought “that’s it. It was fun. They’ll never call me back now.”  But they did.

Jarrod:  We got a good idea of everyone’s areas of study or their profession. Was there anything in particular any of you were doing or working on prior to being on the show?

Chris:  Currently I am a structural engineer for an aircraft modification center.  My job involves  analyzing aircraft parts, assemblies, and installations to ensure they meet airworthiness  requirements.  Simple enough, right?  My main goal is to get hired into the space  exploration industry (SpaceX!!) but they only take the best of the best of the best (sir!),  and I’m not there yet professionally.  Outside of that I’m trying to get in to high-powered  rocketry, but I don’t have the workspace I need in my apartment.

Jarrod:  What were your initial feelings when you first arrived at Nerdvana (best reality show campus name ever, by the way)?

Chris:  My first feeling was that I had no idea what I got myself into.  I was really nervous.  “I’m  going to be on television! Don’t look like an idiot.  Do I look like an idiot?  What do you  mean there’s only one take?? Crap. Crap Crap Crap.”

Jarrod:  Other than what was shown on camera and in the show, what was Nerdvana like? Did the viewers receive a pretty good illustration of what the house was like?

Chris:  Yes and no.  The viewers received an excellent taste of what Nerdvana was like with the  exception of the living arrangements.  Most of our side conversations in and around our  beds were left out, but who really needs to see that stuff anyways?

Jarrod:  The viewers didn’t get to see much of the good-byes other than the player being eliminated and then leaving Nerdvana. Was there more to the good-byes than what was shown on camera?

Chris:  Yes! Every contestant left detailed notes saying goodbye to the other nerds.  Kelsey  started the tradition by leaving the Titans of Rigel a very sweet note when she left.  It was  really sad seeing her go, but it became bittersweet when we saw her letter.  After that  everyone that left decided to leave a note.  I’m almost glad they didn’t show the notes  because it’s something we get to keep to ourselves. 

Jarrod:  Throughout the season, and especially during the finale, we had the pleasure of experiencing your musical stylings. Was this a regular thing? Did you put on shows off camera? 

Chris:  Xander was singing all the time.  ALL THE TIME!!!  Not really, but it was surprising  because he was quite good.  I don’t think he likes drawing attention to his singing  abilities though.

Jarrod:  What was your favorite part of your experience at Nerdvana?

Chris:  The people! I don’t care if that is cliché.  And meeting Bill Nye the Science Guy.

And winning four Nerd Wars in a row.  And the extremely cool challenges we got to participate in or watch.  The whole experience was my favorite part.

Jarrod:  What is the story behind Bacon, the Nerdvana house friend?

Chris:  “I’m Bacon.”  Haha!  We all just loved the various nerdy things the Nerd Elves stocked  Nerdvana with. [Uh.. Nerd Elves? Jealous!]

Jarrod:  How did you guys pass your time between Nerd Wars, etc.? Anything you can share that we may not have seen on camera?

Chris:  There was hardly any time between Nerd Wars that didn’t involve a Nerd-Off or voting  for a Nerd-Off.  We did manage to squeeze in some hilarious Between Two Nerds (which are starting to surface on TBS’s YouTube page) awesomeness with Katie and Brian.  Hopefully more of those will get posted!

The moment love blossomed:

 

Jarrod:  Does anyone have hidden talents we didn’t get to see?

Chris:  A surprising number of nerds on the show can speak or understand Japanese.  Brian, Xander, Kelsey, and Nicole have some understanding of Japanese.  It was frightening  when I realized that.  I also learned how to solve a Rubik’s Cube and while at Nerdvana successfully taught Xander how to solve one on his own. 

My archnemesis. Rubiiiiiiiiiiks!!!
My archnemesis. Rubiiiiiiiiiiks!!! Maybe Chris could teach me?

Jarrod:  Other than George Takei, Bill Nye, and other nerd deities you have had the chance to meet on the show, have you had the chance to meet any amazing nerds?

Chris:  You mean besides the other amazing nerds on the show???  I’m not that big on meeting celebrities.  I’ll go to panels (NerdHQ anyone?) and conventions, but I won’t try to bother anyone for a picture or autograph.  I bumped into Molly Quinn several years ago (my first celebrity encounter), and I was terribly nervous.  I’m not a fan of making a fool of myself in front of someone I’ve seen on television or interrupting others.  Those amazing nerds are normal people, and I’m perfectly fine admiring from afar (or on my couch).

[Random PSA, but everyone check out NerdHQ’s IndieGoGo campaign and support them.]

Jarrod:  How has your life changed since the show?

Chris:  My life hasn’t changed much since I’ve been on the show except that I now have several new awesomely amazing friends.  Other than that, my life seems exactly the same as before I was on the show.

Jarrod:  Most importantly, whether you guys realize it or not, you have become heroes and inspirations to nerds alike. You have become examples of accepting one’s self for who one is, and to never deny the greatness of who you are. How do you feel about fans looking to you in that way?

Chris:  That’s crazy!!  I never expected to be inspiring to others, but I’ll try my best to continue on the same path. It’s very important to be comfortable just being you. I spent a lot of time not being me and trying to fit in and be what I thought was cool, but it’s very exhausting. I definitely don’t recommend it.

________

I hope you guys enjoyed the interview as much as I did. Next up will be the winner herself,  Kayla LaFrance.

Don’t forget to take the survey and bug TBS (@tbsveryfunny) to get the show renewed. Also, use #nerdsrule as MUCH as you can.

Interview with Katie Correll of TBS’ King of the Nerds #NerdsRule

Anyone, nerd or not, that works with The Jim Henson Company is inherently awesome in my eyes. Add to that purple hair and a fashion sense you get, well, Katie Correll.

I had the sneaking suspicion that she’d be the type of contestant that would do well, and if it wasn’t for a single Spelling Bee I believe she could have been in the final four.

Regardless of when she left the show, one my favorite parts of the whole season was the Robot Dodgeball competition. Seeing Katie look like a child on Christmas morning was an absolute joy.

robotdodgeball
Photo Courtesy of TBS

Now before reading the interview meet Katie Correll once more, or for the first time:

Jarrod:  Growing up, who were your major influences? Were they in the field you are pursuing now?

Katie:  I’ve always been a huge fan of Theodore Roosevelt, who was an unstoppable force that changed the world, and Frank Zappa, who ignored critics and made the music he wanted to make- and it was great! I try to be a combination of both of these guys and apply all of their positive qualities to my own field of robotics- pushing the limits of design and performance and trying to make something memorable.

Jarrod:  Did you have anyone in your life that helped you believe in who you were as a person? Friends? Family?

Katie:  My family has always supported me in anything I wanted to do and even supported me during college when everyone else thought I was crazy for trying to mix engineering and art.

Jarrod:  How did you decide to audition for the show? Was it on a whim? Or did someone encourage you?

Katie:  When I was contacted by the show to audition, I had never seen an episode. After some cursory Wikipedia research, however, I decided it would be a great platform to promote girls being awesome in STEM careers.

Jarrod:  What was the audition process like?

Katie:  A lot quicker than I thought it would be. I made an audition tape (that I hope will never see the light of day) in a couple of hours one afternoon with my roommate, and a few weeks, questionnaires and phone calls later I was on my way to LA! 

Jarrod:  We got a good idea of everyone’s areas of study or their profession. Was there anything in particular any of you were doing or working on prior to being on the show?

Katie:  At the time of filming I was interning with the Jim Henson company doing puppet and prop building for Sesame Street, the Jane Henson memorial Nativity show and other assorted projects.

Now I’m working for Disney Imagineering R&D doing mechanical design for a robotic manipulation system. I absolutely love my job and couldn’t imagine anything better suited for me.

Jarrod:  What were your initial feelings when you first arrived at Nerdvana (best reality show campus name ever, by the way)?

Katie:  It looks a lot like my department at CMU, down to the popcorn machine and pop-culture statues all over the place, so I felt right at home.

Jarrod:  Other than what was shown on camera and in the show, what was Nerdvana like? Did the viewers receive a pretty good illustration of what the house was like?

Katie: I wish you’d been able to see more of the bedrooms because those were really fun. We bunked together by team but everyone always wound up hanging out in the purple room.

Jarrod:  The viewers didn’t get to see much of the good-byes other than the player being eliminated and then leaving Nerdvana. Was there more to the good-byes than what was shown on camera?

Katie:  Everyone left a note and we would have a sort of “Note Reading Ceremony” when we’d return to the dorms after the nerd-off. Those were sweet, and I wish we’d seen more of them in the final cut.

Jarrod:  Throughout the season, and especially during the finale, we had the pleasure of experiencing your musical stylings. Was this a regular thing? Did you put on shows off camera? 

Katie:  I think we all did a lot of goofy stuff. Brian and I would gather the gang together and perform episodes of Between Two Nerds. We had a sing along party one night and built an epic blanket fort in the game room. 

Jarrod:  What is the story behind Bacon, the Nerdvana house friend?

Katie:  He’s bacon. [‘Nuff said]

Jarrod:  What was your favorite part of your experience at Nerdvana?

Katie:  The obvious (and cheesy) answer of meeting a lot of great nerds. But also I was incredibly curious about how a show like this is put together, how much prompting is done…etc, and I was pleasantly surprised at how real it was (and how chaotic it is on set!).

Jarrod:  How did you guys pass your time between Nerd Wars, etc.? Anything you can share that we may not have seen on camera?

Kate:  [We] played a LOT of Dominion (which is one of my favorite board games). Xander also taught us this game that was a cross between Whisper Down the Lane and Pictionary- everyone tries to interpret the last persons picture with hilarious results.

Best. Board Game. EVER.
Best. Board Game. EVER.

Jarrod:  Does anyone have hidden talents we didn’t get to see?

Kate:  Chris Jackson is full of secrets.

Jarrod:  Other than George Takei, Bill Nye, and other nerd deities you have had the chance to meet on the show, have you had the chance to meet any amazing nerds?

Katie:  No! I would love to meet the Mythbusters (I was completely convinced that Grant was going to judge our robotics challenge and was sorely disappointed). 

Jarrod:  How has your life changed since the show?

Katie:  I’ve been recognized a lot, which is a strange thing to get used to, but ultimately really fun. I’m also really excited that I have a really amazing group of twitter followers who are willing to listen to my crazy rants about science, robots and various nerdy things.

Jarrod:  What has it been like living in a male-dominated nerd world? Have you been faced with trouble or ridicule because female nerds aren’t the “right kind of nerdy” or because females don’t belong? Is this a reality you have dealt with?

Katie:  The only time I ran into that sort of criticism was as a result of this show. I was the only female mechanical engineer in my graduating class at Cooper Union, but my classmates respected me enough to elect me class representative and Chair of their professional society. I guess I just never let it cross my mind that I didn’t belong, or that gender could possibly be an issue, and that confidence inspired those around me to never question things either.

Jarrod:  Do you have anything to say to perhaps young people who may think girls shouldn’t be nerdy? Or maybe to young females who love science or other subjects, but are discouraged from pursuing because of their gender?

Katie:  I would tell anyone of age, gender or place in life to pursue what makes them happy and not listen to what anyone else says about it. Your happiness isn’t their business.

Jarrod:  Most importantly, whether you guys realize it or not, you have become heroes and inspirations to nerds alike. You have become examples of accepting one’s self for who one is, and to never deny the greatness of who you are. How do you feel about fans looking to you in that way?

Katie:  I love it! I ran into a lot of criticism as a kid for having weird interests, and even in college for not fitting into the MechE mold and I hope I can inspire other people to power through that kind of thing and do what they love. Don’t let anyone tell you ‘no’.

________

I hope you guys enjoyed the interview as much as I did. Next up will be Chris’ interview.

Don’t forget to take the survey and bug TBS (@tbsveryfunny) to get the show renewed. Also, use #nerdsrule as MUCH as you can.

Interview with Xander Jeanneret of TBS’ King of the Nerds #NerdsRule

Maybe it was Xander’s obvious love for MMPR/Super Sentai. Maybe it was his natural ability to live into the old adage penned by Shakespeare: “All the world’s a stage”. Who knows. Regardless, watching Xander on KOTN was a joy from the moment of his first appearance until the show’s last moment.

No matter the mood I was in or the day I had prior to an episode, Xander would bring the smile back to my face. Such is the joy and the IMPORTANCE of theater and thespians. Xander is such a fine example of that.

Before you enjoy the interview itself, meet Xander Jeanneret once more, or for the first time:

Jarrod:  Growing up, who were your major influences? Were they in the field you are pursuing now?

Xander:  I have to say that a major influence on my life was my father. He was one of the premier programmers for the AS/400 computer system and introduced me to many of the video games I love to this day.

as400systems

He was also a huge Tolkien fan and opened the doors of fantasy to me at an early age. Unfortunately, I lost him to lung cancer when I was 15, but his spirit lives on in the nerdy things I do.

Jarrod:  Did you have anyone in your life that helped you believe in who you were as a person? Friends? Family?

Xander:  My life has been FULL of supportive friends and family. I am continually surrounded     by amazing people that lift me up as a person, no matter what I want to do with my life. I know that I’m incredibly lucky and not a day goes by that I don’t remember how many people have made me who I am today.

Jarrod:  How did you decide to audition for the show? Was it on a whim? Or did someone encourage you?

Xander:  I was approached to be on Season 1 of King of the Nerds, but I didn’t know what the    show was about. I thought it would exploit nerds for a laugh, but after watching the first season, I found that the show had a lot of heart and a great message. Plus, it looked like FUN, which was the main draw for me.

Jarrod:  What was the audition process like?

Xander:  Not as bad as you’d think! Personally, I sent in a video submission, then was told I hadn’t made the show. I flew back to Wisconsin a few days later for a friend’s wedding and had gone to the bar with my mom (what else is there to do in Wisconsin? Hahaha). They told me that I actually still had a chance of getting cast, and we raced home to fill out the contract. I knew that I was one of 20 possible people and was told one night that I had made it! It was hard to sleep that night, hahaha.

Jarrod:  We got a good idea of everyone’s areas of study or their profession. Was there anything in particular any of you were doing or working on prior to being on the show?

Xander:  I own my own media company and work freelance. I do everything from graphic design to video editing and even a few translation projects to/from Japanese. I’m also a part of the Los Angeles Dungeon Master troupe, which is a fantastic blend of theatre and fantasy roleplaying.

Jarrod:  Out of all the productions you’ve been a part of, what was your favorite?

Xander:  I was a part of an intensive study and performance of the musical HAIR, and it is one of the most rewarding shows I’ve ever been a part of!

Jarrod:  What were your initial feelings when you first arrived at Nerdvana (best reality show campus name ever, by the way)?

Xander: It was a dream come true! Everyone was excited to be there, and I was a bit intimidated by the specialized skills of the other nerds, but we became fast friends and enjoyed the experience together. It’s just as cool as it looks on the show!

Jarrod:  Other than what was shown on camera and in the show, what was Nerdvana like? Did the viewers receive a pretty good illustration of what the house was like?

Xander: I think it was pretty accurately portrayed. There was never a shortage of things to do or play with, and it’s definitely a haven for all things nerdy!

Jarrod:  Part of your costume in your contestant avatar is clearly a Super Sentai/MMPR suit. I take that as a sign that you’re a fan?

Xander: YES!! Absolutely!

Notice the Blue Super Sentai/MMPR Suit
Notice the Blue Super Sentai/MMPR Suit

Jarrod: Which side of the age long debate do you stand on? Super Sentai or MMPR?

Xander:  While my addiction began with MMPR as a kid, I have to say that I’m a Super Sentai fan through and through. I’ll still watch Power Rangers every now and again to compare, but it’s just not the same.

Jarrod:  What was your favorite season?

Xander:  My favorite season was Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger (by far). I loved the idea of bringing back the powers of the past sentai teams, and the cast was phenomenal as anti-heroes. After that, my favorite seasons include Samurai Sentai Shinkenger and Mahou Sentai Majiranger.

Go-Kaiger-ag9pecge_nowinasia
Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger

Jarrod:  The viewers didn’t get to see much of the good-byes other than the player being eliminated and then leaving Nerdvana. Was there more to the good-byes than what was shown on camera?

Xander:  When a player was eliminated, we had a quick hug and a short chat, and then they were whisked away just as fast as it seems on camera. It really set in how immediate and devastating a loss could be, when the person that you’ve lived with and become friends with is suddenly not in the competition any more.

Jarrod:  Throughout the season, and especially during the finale, we had the pleasure of experiencing your musical stylings. Was this a regular thing? Did you put on shows off camera? 

Xander:  Hahaha! My life is a theatrical production. I’m always humming or outright singing something, but you can bet that if I really was “putting on a show” that I insisted on at least two cameras pointing at me. (Kidding!)  [Unfortunately those demands weren’t met]

Jarrod:  What is the story behind Bacon, the Nerdvana house friend?

Xander:  Nerdvana is full of fun little creatures, gadgets, and toys and Bacon was one of them. Brian latched on to him right away and became a staple at meals and meetings.  I believe that the production crew enjoyed his company as well, as whenever someone made him speak, we heard a tiny chorus of cameramen saying “I’m Bacon” into their walkies.

Jarrod:  What was your favorite part of your experience at Nerdvana?

Xander:  The chance to meet and become friends with the amazing other nerds was the best thing from the whole experience. So often, we get caught up in the “bubble” of our chosen fields of study or our careers, and to meet experts in fields so different was infinitely fascinating. These are the people that will someday cure cancer or fly humanity to Mars!

Jarrod:  How did you guys pass your time between Nerd Wars, etc.? Anything you can share that we may not have seen on camera?

Xander: Chris actually taught me how to solve a Rubik’s Cube, so that’s a valuable life skill that I’ll add to my resume. There was a lot of Soul Calibur V being played. I think my favorite people to game with in the house were Nicole and Josh. Jack and I would play pool, and Katie, Brian, and I would gather around and play tabletop games. Mary Kate and I would share a drink (or two) together. There was always something to do in Nerdvana!

Jarrod:  Does anyone have hidden talents we didn’t get to see?

Xander:  It was surprising how many people actually spoke a little Japanese! Here’s looking at you, Nicole and Brian!

Jarrod:  Other than George Takei, Bill Nye, and other nerd deities you have had the chance to meet on the show, have you had the chance to meet any amazing nerds?

Xander:  I’ve met Grant Imahara and Felicia Day on a few occasions- that’s one of the advantages of living here in Los Angeles. They were both as amazing as you’d think they’d be!

Jarrod:  How has your life changed since the show?

Xander:  I have a larger fan base now, and they are the best! I also get recognized out on the street every once in a while, and I love it. If you ever see me out and about, please come and say hi!

Jarrod:  Most importantly, whether you guys realize it or not, you have become heroes and inspirations to nerds alike. You have become examples of accepting one’s self for who one is, and to never deny the greatness of who you are. How do you feel about fans looking to you in that way?

Xander:  I get messages via various social media platforms saying that I helped change people’s attitudes towards gay people, or that I helped them find the courage to come out to friends and family. I don’t think that will ever get old, and I’m glad that I was able to have that impact on young people.

________

I hope you guys enjoyed the interview as much as I did. Next up will be Katie’s interview.

Don’t forget to take the survey and bug TBS (@tbsveryfunny) to get the show renewed. Also, use #nerdsrule as MUCH as you can.

Interview with Mary Kate Smith of TBS’ King of the Nerds #NerdsRule

From the very beginning Mary Kate was one of my favorite contestants.  Sure. Being a cosplay extraordinaire, possessing a love for  hair mustaches [and sinister ones], and being a rocket scientist makes you pretty damn awesome, but it was also her genuine nature and acceptance of all her fellow nerds that made her an early favorite.

She may also be best known for the “Defining Gravity” moment with Zack; not to be confused with this:

 

I predicted that she would make it further into the competition, but unfortunately the luck of the roll was not in her favor.

Once more, here’s the chance to get to know her for the first time or to meet her again:

 

Jarrod:  Growing up, who were your major influences? Were they in the field you are pursuing now?

Mary Kate:  I remember sitting in elementary school when the large TV was wheeled in. I would always be filled with excitement because I knew that we were about to watch Bill Nye the Science Guy. Bill Nye took science and math and made it fun and relatable. Not something to be afraid or intimidated by. Bill Nye has been an influence to me since I was young. I knew I wanted to be involved in science. He is an influence to me to this day. He shares the same passion I do- the pursuit of knowledge.

Jarrod:  Did you have anyone in your life that helped you believe in who you were as a person? Friends? Family?

Mary Kate:  My family is my rock. No matter what I try to accomplish, whether it’s to be a rocket scientist or King of the Nerds, they are my biggest cheerleaders. I am so very lucky to have such an amazing family that continues to uplift me. They accept me 100% of all my quirks and nerdy behavior. My mother and father always taught me to celebrate who I was and to defy gravity.

Jarrod:  How did you decide to audition for the show? Was it on a whim? Or did someone encourage you?

Mary Kate:  It’s a funny story. I received an email from my rocket team advisor one day stating that casting of King of the Nerds had contacted him looking for space enthusiast and rocket scientist. I remember distinctly him saying, “Who wants to go to Hollywood?” I spoke to him that day and he told me to try it out and throw my name in the hat. It has been a roller coaster ever since.

Jarrod:  What was the audition process like?

Mary Kate:  It was at times grueling because you felt like you had to prove yourself to a mystery panel. Eventually, it just became talking about your interest and who you are. All of it seemed natural. It wasn’t as intimidating as I was expecting.

Jarrod:  We got a good idea of everyone’s areas of study or their profession. Was there anything in particular any of you were doing or working on prior to being on the show?

Mary Kate:  I had just turned in my hat of project manager of my rocket design team,  MSU Space Cowboys. I had held the position for two years and decided it was time to give an underclassman the opportunity in the leadership position. The team design, builds, test and launches a high powered rocket for NASA’s University Student Launch Initiative. It has been a challenge, but I do think it helped prep me for the show.

Photo courtesy of msuspacecowboys.org
Photo courtesy of msuspacecowboys.org

 

Jarrod:  What were your initial feelings when you first arrived at Nerdvana (best reality show campus name ever, by the way)?

Mary Kate:  Amazement. I had to pinch myself to believe I wasn’t dreaming. I never ever would have thought I would be living in such an amazing place. The excitement was so overwhelming at first.

Jarrod:  Other than what was shown on camera and in the show, what was Nerdvana like? Did the viewers receive a pretty good illustration of what the house was like?

Mary Kate:  I think that the viewers did get a great illustration of what Nerdvana was like. I wish they had gotten to see us interact on a non-competition level in a place like Nerdvana though. Nerdvana provided a wonderful place of us nerds to be… well NERDS! Card and video games. Popcorn and slushie machine. Electronic projects. It was truly amazing.

Jarrod:  The viewers didn’t get to see much of the good-byes other than the player being eliminated and then leaving Nerdvana. Was there more to the good-byes than what was shown on camera?

Mary Kate:  The good-byes were very tough on everyone. Something we all did once eliminated was that we would write goodbye letters to everyone. Some of us did individual letters and others to entire teams. Goodbyes are never easy, especially in a place like Nerdvana where we all clicked so well.

Jarrod:  Throughout the season, and especially during the finale, we had the pleasure of experiencing Xander’s musical stylings. Was this a regular thing? Did he put on shows off camera? 

Mary Kate:  There were multiple times were we would all bust into song from our favorite musicals. My favorite was when Katie, Brian and I sang a tribute to David Bowie “Major Tom”.

Jarrod:  What is the story behind Bacon, the Nerdvana house friend?

Mary Kate:  There were Bacon plushies everywhere in Nerdvana. And let’s just say with Brian and Bacon, it was love at first sight.

Photo courtesy of TBS.com
I had to use this photo again. Sure looks as though love is blooming/Photo courtesy of TBS.com

Jarrod:  What was your favorite part of your experience at Nerdvana?

Mary Kate:  My absolute favorite part of my experience was being surrounded by such amazingly different nerds. They all inspired me and still inspire me to this day. I have gained an amazing Nerd Family from this experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

king-of-the-nerds-season-2-contestants

Jarrod:  How did you guys pass your time between Nerd Wars, etc.? Anything you can share that we may not have seen on camera?

Mary Kate:  Katie would make forts and perform puppet shows. There would be a lot of Dominion games being played. We would just sit and talk. There was a lot of shenanigans that went on off camera.

Jarrod:  Other than George Takei, Bill Nye, and other nerd deities you have had the chance to meet on the show, have you had the chance to meet any amazing nerds?

Mary Kate:  Have you seen my cast? They are amazing nerds! But to answer your question, Papa Nerd, Curtis Armstrong has been an honor to meet and get to know. He really cares about his nerds.

Yes. That's Curtis on the right.
Yes. That’s Curtis on the right.

Jarrod:  How has your life changed since the show?

Mary Kate:  Life hasn’t changed from the show, but I now have more kids come up to me and talk to me about science and math. To be an inspiration to kids wanting to go into STEM fields, that is the biggest take away from this, and a welcome change. [Check out the STEM Education Coalition]

Jarrod:  What has it been like living in a male-dominated nerd world? Have you been faced with trouble or ridicule because female nerds aren’t the “right kind of nerdy” or because females don’t belong? Is this a reality you have dealt with?

Mary Kate:  It is a sad reality yes. But I know who I am. I am a rocket scientist. I am a sword-fighter. I am a tabletop gamer. I am a nerd. I am a woman. These things are facts. When I meet adversity like that I will look them dead in the eye and say, “Long hair, don’t care.” If people have that outlook, they aren’t worth my time. I do hope my fellow nerdy ladies agree.

Jarrod:  Do you have anything to say to perhaps young people who may think girls shouldn’t be nerdy? Or maybe to young females who love science or other subjects, but are discouraged from pursuing because of their gender?

Mary Kate:  Know yourself. Love yourself. No one can ever take away the uniqueness of you. The obstacles you will run into in life should never keep you down. You can do absolutely anything you can imagine as long as you have a burning passion for it. You know the saying “The sky is the limit”? Never, ever let that be your limit. Your potential is limitless. Look towards the universe, let the others, especially the haters, be limited by the sky. If you falter, get back up, dust yourself off, and make them eat it! Nerd girls are taking over, darlin! Mark my words.

Jarrod:  Most importantly, whether you guys realize it or not, you have become heroes and inspirations to nerds alike. You have become examples of accepting one’s self for who one is, and to never deny the greatness of who you are. How do you feel about fans looking to you in that way?

Mary Kate:  It’s an honor. I tried to exhibit honor and courtesy above all, like my Kingdom in the Society of Creative Anachronism, teaches. And to be an example of acceptance fills my heart with pride. I feel like we are preaching RuPaul’s great advice as well: “If you can’t love yourself,  how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”.

________

I hope you guys enjoyed the interview as much as I did. Next up will be Xander.

Don’t forget to take the survey and bug TBS (@tbsveryfunny) to get the show renewed. Also, use #nerdsrule as MUCH as you can.

****Update 3/24/2013****

If you would like to watch it, the latest episode of MK and Xander’s “Whiskey Wednesdays” has been released.

Go ahead and give it a watch: