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Fan Expo Philly Had Something For Everybody

Fan Expo Philly drove hundreds, if not thousands of people who identify as either “nerds” or “geeks” of different fandoms to the Pennsylvania Convention Center this weekend. I had a blast walking around the con, taking in all the art on display, interacting with exhibitors and cosplayers, and sitting in on panels. 

Dante Basco

I grew up in the heyday of Avatar: The Last Airbender and American Dragon Jake Long, so I was pretty excited to sit front-row to get all the insight from Fire Lord himself. Of course, Dante is better known for his work in Hook as Rufiooooooooooooooo, the leader of the Lost Boys.

The panel dove right in on the impact of Hook and the death of his character both when released in 1991 and now. 

“For a certain generation that grew up and watched this film, the viewer between the ages of like eight and 13, at that time, this was the first traumatic moment of your life. When you’re that age, it hits you in one way, and then as you get older and you go back and you revisit the movie, it kind of hits you in a different way. So, you know, at that younger age you kind of see it as the loss of a friend, and now you kind of see it as the loss of a child and it hits you in such a different way.”

He also shared some of the pressure he felt as a 15-year-old movie star and how he “just wanted to show up the next day at school and be looked at as cool,” but that the ripped skinny jeans, red tights, crop top, and tri-hawk didn’t necessarily help with that – but that Steven Spielberg fell in love with the look right away.

“And I walk around the corner in these frigging black and red skin tight pants, rock and roll hawk situation, and Steven (Spielberg) turns around, his arms are crossed and he goes “Yes! Yes.” And I’m like, “Yeah?” He’s like, “Yes.’” 

When the fans took the mic to ask their questions – Dante gushed about how cool it was to have Mark Hamill play his dad in Avatar. He didn’t even know until he walked into the studio that day!

Katee Sackhoff

I usually enjoy The Mandalorian during the Geeks Who Like Sports Watch-Alongs with Ray Carsillo and Lee MJ Elias on, and was grateful that Bo-Katan Kryze herself gave an interview here in Philadelphia so I could take some of her insight back to the community the next time we all get together.

What I didn’t know going into the panel was how far Katee’s talents stretch in film and tv – especially into the Hallmark Christmas Movie genre!

Regardless of what role she’s playing though, there’s no doubt that Katee brings a level of badassery to her characters.

“My father raised me in science fiction and action movies and I always joked that I wanted to be Bruce Willis and save Nakatomi Plaza. That was my goal.”

Who knows – maybe that goal isn’t too far off and we’ll get to see Katee saving the day in a female adaptation of Die Hard eventually. The panel audience all agreed that it would be something they’d watch, anyway.

When it comes to Bo Katan, Katee shared that going from just giving her a voice to becoming her really tested her acting ability. 

“I don’t necessarily come from a voiceover background. Voiceover has come as a product of my live-action acting, which has been a beautiful gift. But ‘ve never gone and had to figure out how to play a character that already existed. And I thought that I had done all the work that I needed to do because I know everything about Bo that you could possibly ever wanna know. It’s in my head. So in my mind, I’m like, “Well, I’ve done the back backstory work. Like I’m her.” And then I put the suit on and was like standing there, like Katee talking to Dave (Filloni) and my hands were all over the place and my face was like crazy and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have no idea how this woman moves, how she talks.’

“Like I know how she sounds, but when I’m in the voice-over studio, I look all over the place. My face is doing whatever it needs to do to convey a certain emotion. It doesn’t necessarily look like Bo. And so I had to figure out how to keep my face very, very still because Bo was very still and still have that sort of Bo attitude that I added to the voice.’”

To wrap up, of course, we had to get the scoop on her favorite Mandalorian co-star: 

“He (Grogu) is my favorite co-star. He is. It is his show. We are all just in it. Let’s be honest. You can’t get rid of that baby. Like he is amazing. He’s so much fun.”

Star Trek Cosplayers

There was no shortage of fans dressed as their favorite characters walking around the expo this weekend. I checked in with a group of college best friends who, for the most part, were attending their first con and were dressed as a Star Trek fleet.

“Star Trek definitely means camaraderie, teamwork, and friendship. But also risk.” The friends collectively agreed when asked what Star Trek meant to them. “We like to go out and enjoy our time together but understand that what we do may have some consequences. But overall we’re gonna do it together and we’re gonna have fun.”

When asked what sparked their fandom, they all shared that they grew up with Star Trek or that it was shared with them by their parents.

The Finest – A G. I. Joe Costume Club

Walking around the cosplay community section at the convention center I wanted to deep dive into what The Finest stands for and how they are helping veteran communities – so I spoke with Ray-El, the Cobra Commander who has been working with and coming to the con for the club since 2015.

“I was at a Wizard World back then and a friend of mine went to go get an autograph and it was, he was in the line for four hours and I was so bored and I saw the cosplayers walking around and I said, “the next time I come to a con, I’m gonna be coming in a costume.” He shared how he initially got involved with cosplaying.

While The Finest’s primary focus is to keep the love of G.I. Joe alive for fans, a lot of the club’s members are also veterans so they focus on raising money for military charities.

“We picked K9s For Warriors because not only does it help veterans but it also helps animals. They take dogs out of high-kill shelters and train them to be service dogs for Veterans with PTSD. And what the best thing about it is if the dog doesn’t pass the training, they don’t send it back to a kill shelter, they find it a home. So they’re helping a veteran and they’re helping an animal in need at the same time.”

You can find more information about the club at and support K9s For Warriors at

photos by Katelynn Reiss

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