Fan interview by Teresa Martin (@Teresa__Martin)
Last Spring diverse Once accounts banded together to create a special project for the Paris Once convention, Fairy Tales IV. Fandom United rallied fans to raise money for three charities as a gift to the Once Upon A Time stars. Naomi (@Codonoghuecom) Coralie (@OUAT_Source_FR), Julie (@JmoDailyNews, @Codonoghuedaily) and Ophélie (@ParrillaLanaCom) spoke to Teresa Martin about this heart-felt endeavour.
What made you become a fan of OUAT?
Naomi: I started watching at the end of Season 2. My friend had told me to watch it and I became hooked. I watched the entire two seasons in a day or two. I absolutely love the show. Once Upon a Time has such an amazing storyline. It makes grown-ups believe in fairytales again and gives us hope.
Coralie: I began to watch the show just before the Season 1 finale in the US, and I became quickly addicted. I loved (and still do, despite some tragic events in the show) the hope the show brings to us: the idea of fairytale characters living in our world, and all the twists in the fairytales we know. Since then, I live, eat and speak Once Upon ATime, especially since I started my account!
Julie: I’m gonna be honest, the first time I heard about Once Upon A Time, I wasn’t even planning on watching it at all. I waited for the show to be released in France. I tried it, and it was like love at first sight. I never feel better than when I’m watching Once Upon A Time.
What also makes me a fan of this show is all the great and important human lessons and the hope that they give us. Fairytales are made to teach kids what is life through "happy things", princes and princesses. They are telling your kids "Yes baby, there is a very mean evil queen and a very big dragon. You will meet lots of them in your life, but if you keep hope and light inside you, you will be able to defeat them and find your happy ending at the end of the road."
Ophélie: I became a fan of Once Upon A Time 4 years ago. My friends told me about this show, and as a huge fan of the Disney universe, they told me I would fall in love with this show. Which I did. I found in Once Upon A Time something very important: hope. Something hit me when I watched the first season. It made me feel good when I most needed it. I particularly fell in love with Lana and her character, from the first words she said in the pilot. This is the reason why I decided to open my website, and share my admiration and respect for this incredible woman through it.
How did you start to attend the Fairy Tales Convention and why do you return?
Naomi: I went to FT2 because of the friend who got me hooked on Once. She saw a post about a convention in Paris and she asked me to go with her. We ordered ourselves a Snow Pass and off we went. It was amazing. I bought my pass for Fairytales 3 the second Colin was announced. It’s such an amazing experience to be able to meet your favourite actors. It’s one of the reasons why I go back every year. Another reason is meeting my friends there. I talk to them daily on social media, but only get to see them at the convention. So for me it’s an extra reason to go. It’s nice to freak out with other people and just enjoy everything to the fullest.
Coralie: I created my account in Sept. 2013, and in Dec. 2013, Xivents made their first convention, Fairy Tales. It was impossible to get there, so I lived the convention from the couch in my house. But then, Xivents announced FT2. It was again impossible for me to go to the convention! But I was still looking at the FT2, was becoming more and more addicted to the show and the actors, so when Sean first, and then Lana, were announced, my heart broke. So I asked a friend of mine who was going to get for me an autograph from Sean and Lana. But then, I had one of the chances of my life. I had the opportunity to sell my pass from a previous convention to buy a Snow Pass and a Sean/Lana photo op.! Unbelievable!
In June 2014, I flew to Versailles to have one of my favorite weekends of all my life. There I met so many people that changed my life forever. That’s why I came back for FT3 and FT4. I love the ambiance, the guests, the venues, the team, and the friends I made during those weekends.
Julie: I honestly don’t really remember how I found out about Xivents’ conventions. I know that I read about it on Facebook, I took a look at it and I was like "Oh wow, that’s great!".
It was a really great first time, and meeting the actors of such an important show for me was incredible. I got to know the world of conventions and the Xivents team much more every year. Xivents is such an exceptional organization making exceptional and magical events.
There are some things you cannot miss. The Fairytales Conventions is one of them.
I also know that, unfortunately, lots of people cannot go to these kind of events. You do it, not just for yourself, but for everybody else, and you hope that these people will have the same chance some day. And I know Xivents is sharing the feeling. That is why we love them so much and what makes them amazing.
Ophélie: When I first heard Xivents organized a Once Upon A Time convention, I realized this was the chance to meet the people behind my favorite characters, my favorite cast. And it all began in 2012, with the Fairytales 2, and my first meeting with Lana. I will never, ever, forget it. It is such a magical experience that I wish everyone could have the chance to live. It made sense to me to return to the third and fourth editions, to keep living the dream, to keep living the magic and all the powerful things it made me feel.
What gave you the idea for the project?
Naomi: Ophélie and I had been talking about doing a fundraiser together. We wanted to do something for the entire cast, not just one or two actors. There has been some tension between the fandoms and we wanted to try unite everyone. In the past, Ophélie and I got applauded for being friends because I’m a Colin fan and she is a Lana fan. I adore every single actor on the show and OF COURSE we are friends because Ophélie is pretty amazing. I also know a lot of people who are fans of both actors so I still don’t understand why they applauded us. We got in touch with Coralie and Julie (who are also amazing) and the rest is history.
Julie: There are two big ideas behind this project. The first one is very simple, it’s actually the name of the project: "Fandom United". There are, unfortunately, lots of ship/fandom wars on the social networks. And it makes us really sad. So we wanted to do this fundraiser not just as a surprise for the cast and the convention, not just for the charities, but also as a symbol. The symbol of all the fandoms united and working together. We wanted to show the fans that no matter who you ship, who you love, there is a place for everyone in the fandom, that we can work together, and we can actually achieve amazing things if we work together. I mean . . . $2300!!! At the beginning of the project, none of us ever thought we would make it so far and that we would raise so much. We were surprised, but so thrilled!
Spread love, not hate. I think that is the essence of the project.
Secondly, of course the charities and the cast! We simply wanted to show the cast everything. I just explained about the Fandom United, and we wanted to help charities and we were just looking for a great surprise for the convention and the full cast of Once Upon A Time.
Coralie: I wasn’t in the process of developing the idea of the collection, but then Ophélie, Naomi and others came to me to talk about the project, Since then, I was 100% in! And the idea to give money for 3 different charities, well, that was fantastic!
Ophélie: I've had the idea of such a project for a very long time now, but it only existed in my thoughts and also in Naomi's. Then the day came when we decided to really talk about it and make it real through the amazing help of Coralie and Julie, but also Sabrina, Sonia, and other amazing Oncers. I live to make people happy, that's what motivates me in life. I have always put everyone else's happiness before mine, and it makes me feel so much alive. A project like Fandom United was something very dear to my heart, and it feels so good to take action in an unselfish way. To give without expecting anything in return. This is what Lana taught me. To always be the best version of myself, to always be, and do better. She inspired the whole project to me.
How was the project put together?
Naomi: First we reached out to multiple fansites and we had a pretty big team: Emily De RavinFR, Sean Maguire Daily, Colin O’Donoghue Brazil, OUAT Brazil, Jennifer Morrison FR, and Rebecca Mader Daily. Then we had to choose the charities to donate to. We put up a poll on Twitter and people voted to split the amount to three different charities. We didn’t really know which ones to choose so we browsed through the charities the actors were following. We came to the three amazing charities: Bullies Keep Out, Animal League and Make a Wish. There are so many amazing charities out there, but those three stood out to us. First it was our plan to give away posters, pins, etc. to those who had donated, but then we decided to buy some autographs. Then the amazing Sonia came on board and generously helped us so we could offer the people who donated even more! I still can’t believe we raised $ 2,300!
Julie: At the end we thought of choosing charities known by the cast. Animal League is one of Emilie De Ravin’s favorites. She tweets a lot about it and is very supportive of animal causes. Bullies Keep Out is very supported by Michael Raymond-James, and Make A Wish is known by everyone. All the charities are very known and supported by a lot of actors. But I personally found out about Animal League and Bullies Keep Out thanks to Emilie and Michael.
Then, we also wanted to choose three different charities, supporting different causes: Animal League for the animals cause, Bullies Keep Out for bullying and Make A Wish for kids.
Coralie: We shared as much as we could about the project, promising the fans to win souvenirs from the con, like posters, badges or jewels But the collection wasn’t working so well so we put money together and a GENEROUS AND BEAUTIFUL soul named Sonia helped us and then we updated the project: each donation would give a chance to win an autograph from one of the guests from FT4! Since then, the collection worked so well to finally reach the amount of $2,300!!!!
Ophélie: The process was very simple, once we decided to make it real, we had to reach out to people in the fandom, because our first goal was to show the actors that we are one big family, despite everything that happened, all the hate and dramas on social media. The Oncers proved that we definitely are united: we raised $2,300 and we are very proud about it. Through this interview, I want to thank every single person who donated, who helped us share, who got involved in any way in our project. It meant the world to us, and we couldn't have done it without them.
You were able to be give the check to the stars!
Naomi: It was one of the most amazing moments ever. Coralie had talked with the Xivents team and they told us we could give it to them at the group pictures on Sunday. We were all very nervous while we were waiting to give it to them and we had no idea we could actually be in the picture with them. We decided I was the one to explain it to the cast so I was practically dying because I was so nervous. The VIPs did their pictures first and then it was our turn. I started explaining the project but the cast was already reading the check, so Colin and Lana started shouting, Bex started clapping, the others were stunned and amazed. They all kept on saying how amazing this was and thanking us. Colin was the closest one so I handed the check over to him and he held it up proudly. I was so awkward and nervous during the picture. I was standing next to Bex and I thought it was Julie so I wanted to wrap my arm around her and then I saw it was Bex. I didn’t know if I was allowed to so I didn’t. Hence why I’m so awkward on that picture. Afterwards, again the cast told us how amazing it was. They looked so proud and happy. We all screamed once we got out of the room. It was such a beautiful moment and I will cherish it forever. What an amazing gift from the Xivents team and I will be forever grateful for that moment.
Coralie: Naomi was supposed to talk about the project, but the instant Colin and Lana saw the check, and the amount on it, they screamed of joy. Bex just clapped hard her hands, and the others were like "WOW!". Naomi just had the chance to explain quickly the project and then we took the picture.
They were so happy and proud of us. The following afternoon, I had autograph sessions with Bex, Greg, Sean, Colin and Liam, and when I talked about the check and the project, they had big smiles on their faces, saying that the project was fantastic and that they were proud of us for creating a project like this one! Colin promised me he would take the check back to Vancouver to show to the entire Cast and Crew (and we are still waiting for the proof haha!)
Julie: Giving the cheque . . . it just felt so unreal. We talked a lot with Xivents about how to make it work, because we wanted to give the actors the cheque in person but we also needed to agree with Xivents about how and when to give it. We talked about the closing ceremony, at the end of Saturday, during the group photo, and we ended at the group photo.
We were afraid we wouldn’t be able to give it to them ourselves, and when Xivents told us they would let us give the cheque during the group photo, we were kinda split. We didn’t know how it would work because we know Xivents has a very precise planning to follow and lots of group photos to make, so we were a bit scared of how it could work out for us and the project. We were hoping that Xivents would allow the actors to take a photo with the cheque. At the end they said "You can go on the photo too." At that precise moment, I remember the five of us (me, Coralie, Ophélie, Naomi and Sonia) looking at each other and we were like "OH MY GOD! IS THIS EVEN REAL?". I mean, at the beginning we weren’t even sure we could give the cheque ourselves, we weren’t even sure it would work great or that we could have a photo, and then BOOM! It just happened.
It was an amazing moment. The cast saw the cheque, we explained the project, and their reactions were priceless. I will never forget their smiles, the way they looked at us and thanked us so much for all we have done. They were so thrilled, and surprised, and grateful. It was just real magic and an unforgettable moment. I just . . . I have no words to describe this.
Then, I had some autographs left, so when I arrived in front of Rebecca, I had my autographs signed and showed her the group photo we took for the cheque. She saw it, stared in amazement and said "Ooh! I love it! That’s a really nice photo! Thank you so much!" She thanked us for the project once again and smiled at me (a big big smile I will keep forever in my mind). She was so funny and very sweet. I love this woman so much, she so wicked! haha.
Ophélie: Giving the check, and living the final moment after months of hard work, was truly magical. The moment we experienced with the guests that were present at the Fairytales IV went way beyond everything we could have expected. Marion and Margaux (some of Xivents organizers at the time) gave us this incredible opportunity to give the check in person to the actors and tell them about our project. We were incredibly nervous about it, and when we arrived right in front of them, it all went too easy. Colin was the first to react, in a very expressive way, followed by Lana. They both kind of screamed how amazing that was, and how happy they were about it. We asked them to keep the check and show it to the other cast members back in Vancouver, as it was made in honour of them all.
Anything else you would like to share?
Naomi: We hope we reached a lot of people with our Fandom United Project because we really wanted to unite everyone and do something amazing together.
I want to thank Xivents again from the bottom of my heart because what they did for us was amazing! I also want to thank Sonia for her amazing help. We wouldn’t have been able to raise so much if it weren’t for her.
I’m very grateful for having Ophélie, Julie and Coralie on board. It was amazing and I’m very happy to have experienced that moment with them. I’m so so so proud of our project and hope to do it again someday.
Coralie: The #FandomUnited project was created for one point: to show to the fandom that we can be united through amazing causes even if drama is a daily basis. I will ever be most proud of something like the Fandom United Project. Long live Once Upon A Time, Long Live Xivents, Long Live Friendships and Long Live the Fandom that participated in this charity!
Ophélie I will never forget this experience and all the positivity it brought me, I will be forever grateful to have lived something like this.
Julie: There is one person I haven’t talked about in all this, but I need to say a word about her because she has been a huge help to the project as well. And this person is Sonia. I don’t know her personally, I actually didn’t even knew her before this, but she gave some many prizes for the project and for the fans. She’s been so supportive towards the project and us and the charities. She’s definitely a part of the team and we are very thankful for her too!
I will end by saying how thrilled and grateful I am for all that happened this past few months and during the Fairytales IV Convention. So grateful that I have been able to share this with amazing friends. So grateful for the charities, the cast and Xivents. So grateful we’ve been able to share this magical feeling with so many people, and that so many people joined in!
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