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Home > Felicia Day – Queen of the Geeks

Felicia Day – Queen of the Geeks

Felicia Day - Queen of the Geeks

Navigating Hollywood and Charting Her Own Destiny

Felicia Day is no stranger to geeks everywhere, known for playing quirky but charming characters on dozens of shows and movies, as well as ushering in a new age of fantasy web series that would connect with millions of fans. But in an industry that isn’t known for its fair play towards women, Day refused to be boxed in, writing her way out of corners Hollywood execs sought to crowd her into. This career retrospective will bring context to some of her most impressive achievements to date and set the stage for what’s next in the career of this unlikely trailblazer and Renaissance woman.

Third Eye 

“This is the most Felica Day thing you’ve ever done.” Felica recants the story between her and her manager to Ben Blacker on The Writer’s Room, a podcast about screenwriters. Day, known for being an actress, has written much of her own material, including this latest audio-comedy. 

Third Eye is a fantasy adventure audiobook, available on Audible. Written and performed by Day, it tells the story of Laurel, a not-so-typical hero dealing with the fallout of a failed mission a decade before to defeat the ultimate evil. In her own words from her blog, “It’s a comedy about a fantasy-genre Chosen One who fails her battle with the Big Bad and has to live with knowing she’s the biggest loser in existence. Yes, there are emotional connections between me and the main character.” The seven-hour audio presentation features the voice talents of a deluge of geek royalty, including Neil Gaiman, Sean Astin, Wil Wheaton, and even “Weird Al” Yancovic. 

But nothing ever comes easy in Hollywood. For years, Day worked as a freelancer, pitching projects to execs, and all the work that goes on behind the scenes before that point, but nothing ever caught on. The occasional adaptation paid the bills, but even the projects she didn’t get hired to do were time lost, time she’d never get back, and after four years, she was ready for a change.  Per Day from her blog Felicitations, “No one is entitled to anything in Hollywood. Not to sell a show, not to stay alive on a series. Truth is, nothing you did yesterday matters in this business, it’s only about what you’re able to do tomorrow.” Discouraged but practical, Day ponied up the dough to make the project herself. Well-received by fans and critics, this isn’t the first time Day used her own money for a project, but it is a long way from where she started out.

Head of the Class

Alabama born and raised, Day was acting as early as seven. Though home-schooled, she studied dance and singing and began college at just sixteen years old. A valedictorian, she auditioned for and was accepted to Julliard, though she attended the University of Texas on a full-ride merit scholarship for the violin. A double major in music and mathematics, she graduated at just nineteen years old. Despite her many accomplishments, Day doesn’t see accomplishments as the root of identity. Per her blog, the notion that “You are what you achieve is flawed and destructive and the root of a lot of problems in peoples’ lives. No, we are not what we achieve, we just ARE.” 

Post graduation, she relocated to Los Angeles and began pursuing roles in acting, landing small roles in commercials, such as a delightful Anti-Drug PSA in 2001, guest appearances on TV shows like Undeclared, as well as dabbling in shorts and indie films, including a minor role in Bring it On: Again. Her most notable breakthrough role came in 2003, when she was just 24, starring as Vi in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, her first but not last collaboration with Joss Whedon. In a career spanning two decades, she has racked up more than 100 roles across a multitude of platforms and mediums, but her most notable success would be playing an anxious gamer on a web series of her own design.

The Guild & Guest Roles

Between 2007 and 2014, Day wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the web series The Guild. Mirroring start-up tech companies, the series was shot mostly out of her garage, with minimal money. Day speaks well of the experience on her blog and at fan conventions. The show inspired co-star Sandeep Parikh to shoot his own web series, The Legend of Neil, in which Day had a recurring role as a promiscuous fairy.

An avid gamer, this short-form comedy-rich web series is loosely based on her life as a gamer, in particular World of Warcraft. Over a decade since the last episode aired, all six seasons are still viewable today. Charmingly low-budget and endearing, the show connected with a generation of gamers that had grown up making friends through raids and chatrooms. Per a post on Day’s blog in early January, “millions of fans around the world … packed ComiCon rooms for six seasons. Hell, the outfit I wore is now in the Smithsonian American History Museum’s permanent collection.”  While it earned a myriad of web awards and was endearing to fans, Day was never approached by anyone in Hollywood to adapt it for television. The Guild did, however, create a new avenue for Day “to play a quirky geek girl character on several TV series, for which I am forever grateful.”

And play them she did, appearing in dozens of roles in shows like Eureka, House, and later, Monk. She lent her voice to shows like Robot Chicken and Family Guy and could be heard on podcasts like Welcome to Night Vale. She returned to the webseries format with Critical Role in 2015. From 2017 on, she began appearing on Mystery Science Theatre 3000, or ‘MST3K’ as it is more commonly known. Co-starring with Patton Oswalt, Day plays mad scientist Kinga Forrester. A show built for a niche audience, it has nevertheless remained a fan-favorite, dubbed Mysties to the general public. Cobbling together income paycheck to paycheck can be draining to actors, but it was nothing compared to the challenges of running her own company, Geek & Sundry.

Felicia Day - Queen of the Geeks
The cast of the Guild, from left: Vincent Caso as Bladezz, Jeff Lewis as Vork, Sandeep Parikh as Zaboo, Felicia day as Codex, Robin Thorsen as Clara, and Amy Okuda as Tinkerballa. | Image Courtesy of Felicia Day

Founder of Geek & Sundry

In 2011, YouTube ran a contest to find eager entrepreneurs and content creators to pioneer a unique lineup for the still-growing platform, and they were going to throw up to five million dollars towards creators of ‘Geek Entertainment.’ Teaming up with her then-producing partner Kim Evey, they devised a plan for a new channel that would later be dubbed Geek & Sundry. Their starting lineup of potential content included a sixth season of The Guild as well as a talk show with Day hosting. However, to spend five million dollars they would need way more, so Day reached out to friend and fellow geek royalty Wil Wheaton. They both shared a passion for gaming, and soon they would arrive at the concept for Tabletop, a show featuring indie games from around the world, played around a table by comedians, entertainers, and other celebrities.

Felicia and her partner beat out a hundred creators to be one of the selected for sponsorship, and over the next few years, they would produce over a dozen shows ranging from content about all forms of gaming (from tabletop to roleplaying, miniature, and video games), scripted series, motion comics, and narrative scripted series. In those early years, dozens of shows were created — over 400 in 2012 alone — and Day was, to one degree or another, involved in all of them. Per Day’s blog, “The first thing I learned about a business is that it NEVER ENDS… after launching a start-up video company, as the months rolled on, I realized, Holy crap. This thing doesn’t have an endpoint. Making content. Constantly.” Satisfying but exhausting, Day experienced the highs and lows of business ownership, including the sad state of letting some shows die so that others could be born, chasing demographics that rarely appreciate the hard work on the back end of content creation.

After a lot of soul searching and more than a few rum-punches on the beaches of Jamaica, Day doubled down on her commitment to Geek & Sundry. Resolute and focused, she was nevertheless blindsided when in 2013 YouTube made the across-the-board decision to no longer invest in original content. Fan support through crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter allowed them to keep the train rolling, but in 2014 Day sold the company to Legendary Entertainment. She remained on in a managerial role for a further four years, but the stress wreaked havoc on her time and health, and she left the company she had started in 2018, one of her last milestones at the company being to launch a Geek & Sundry Twitch Channel.  Felicia still maintains an active presence on social media and is still making content, albeit at a more leisurely pace. Between her YouTube channel and her Twitch Let’s Play streams, she has over half a million followers! 

Creator of Dragon Age: Redemption 

Precious few details are available about the development of this lovingly made addition to the Dragon Age franchise. Created by, written, and starring Day, Dragon Age: Redemption was produced in collaboration with Days’ own company the Knights of Good, Machinima.com, and Bioware. Perhaps the greatest independently produced official video game adaptation on the market, the show plays like the most amazing fan-film ever made. Much more than a live-action video game, the show captures the spirit of Dragon Age through not only its clear characters and witty dialogue, but also its meaningful production design, both through its convincing props and set decoration, tasteful but evocative costumes, and appropriately proportioned weapons and armor, as well as its post-production aspects like reasonable (on a budget) visual effects, racing score, and well-purposed cinematography. One wonders what Felicia Day would be capable of on a budget to match her tremendous imagination.

Day plays Tallis, an Elven assassin, exiled from her guild and working in a slaughterhouse, because that is what Tallis is, a butcher. Not unlike Wade Wilson from Deadpool, Tallis is known for her quick wit and quicker reactions. She embarks on a  quest less about redemption and more about earning her way back into the good graces of her guild, tracking down an errant blood mage. Along the way, she’ll acquire some unwanted baggage in the form of a knight of the Chantry, a religious organization of zealots. Though Cairn is Tallis’ opposite in every way, the two develop a bond and attraction over the show’s six-episode run and ends with a compelling and surprising turn of events; twists abide in the finale and the show ends stronger than it starts. Though the series was under-marketed and overlooked. Day was a worthy steward of the franchise, which has gone on to include an animated film and series.

But Can She Sing? 

During the WGA Writers Strike of 2007- 2008, Joss Whedon, whose name is both famous and infamous among geeks, reached out to Day about a musical intended for production and release on the web, bypassing the studio system altogether. Whedon personally funded the endeavor, perhaps inspiring Day to do the same over a decade later on Third Eye. Felicia played the role of Penny, a do-gooder trying to save a condemned building for reuse as a homeless shelter. Penny was also a shared love interest between the series leads, Nathan Fillion and Neil Patrick Harris, and sadly ends with her character’s death, a harbinger for more to come.

The musical was co-written by Jed Whedon, Joss’ brother and a composer and songwriter in his own right. The part required a lot of singing from Day, which was no problem because of her musical background. It wouldn’t be the last time she partnered with the Whedons. 2009 would bring a small role guest starring in The Doll House, but more importantly, she would partner again with Jed Whedon to produce a music video with the Knights of Good, her production company, called ‘Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?’ This was midway through the six-season run of The Guild and showed Day’s willingness to try new things and branch out. 

If You Make It, They Will Watch

When the kingdom is in peril, a champion will rise, the future of the world entrusted to the most unlikely of heroes. We’ve seen it time and again in media, from Frodo in The Lord of the Rings to Luke in Star Wars and yes, now in Felicia Day, having proven time and again that when your back is against a wall, there’s nowhere to go but up. Author, actor, mother, writer, and entrepreneur, Day has never come across a ‘no’ she had to settle for, charting her own destiny even when the road was rocky and the path uncertain. In her own words from her blog, “there are so many ways to make something on your own nowadays. So many formats, so many fans waiting to enjoy what you make. The power is still in the creators’ hands, and it’s glorious.”

Felicia Day - Queen of the Geeks
Felicia Day as Tallis in "Dragon Age: Redemption" | Image Courtesy of Machinima.com

Third Eye Promotional Video by Felicia Day

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Caleb aims to write high-concept genre pieces that focus on broken families. His works have been recognized by the Nicholl's Fellowship, the ISA, Screencraft, Launchpad, and Nickelodeon.When not writing Caleb enjoys video games and tabletop RPGs, camping, and is a connoisseur of fine bourbon.

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Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration.  Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.