In our latest fan interview, Paige and Marissa talk about the Evil Regals and their adventures with Lana at PaleyFest.
How did you hear about Once Upon A Time?
Paige: I kept seeing a bunch of ads for Once Upon A Time on TV, in magazines, on buses. It immediately caught my attention because of the fairy tales theme. I have always loved Disney and fairy tales, and I love when they’re retold with a modern spin or twist. I remember whenever a commercial for OUAT would come on; I would always stop what I was doing and watch it, no matter how many times I had already seen it. I hadn’t been that excited about a new TV show in a long time, and I knew I had to watch it!
Marissa: I still remember sitting in the movie theatre waiting for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 to begin and they played a trailer for a magical new show called Once Upon A Time on ABC. I just remember being in that theater and not being able to look away, thinking, "Oooh I'm going to love this!" And then I started seeing it advertised on TV more and more, so by the time October 23, 2011 came, I couldn't have been more excited!
What was your first impression of the show?
Paige: I fell in love with the show right away! I have a very personal connection to the Snow White story, so I loved that that was the main story they started off with in the Pilot. Additionally, the Evil Queen has always been my favorite villain, and as soon as Lana busted into Snow and Charming’s wedding in all her Evil Queen glory and said, “Sorry I’m late,” my heart was hers. I felt an immediate connection to the show, and I was completely fascinated by seeing fairy tale characters in our world. One of the things I will always remember is the last scene of that episode, when Emma decides to stay in Storybrooke, and the music swells, the clock finally moves, and Henry smiles. I was smiling right along with him. I had major chills, and I couldn’t wait for the next episode. Then, in “The Thing You Love Most”, when they started to explore Regina’s story, I fell even more in love with her character and the show overall, and I knew this was my new favorite show. Even now, whenever I go back and rewatch the Pilot, I still remember exactly how I felt the first time I watched it. I was a fan of the show from the very beginning, but I had no idea then how much of an impact this show would have on my life.
Marissa: From the moment the show started I was completely hooked! To have the very first scene of Prince Charming waking Snow White, which is such an iconic moment in fairy tales, brought to life in such a beautiful way was absolutely incredible. The Pilot remains one of my favorite episodes because it was filled with such emotion, suspense, magic, and it left you desperate to know what would happen next. I've never felt such an immediate connection to a show before, and to a character (Regina) before. She had me at "Sorry I'm late!" I have always had a profound love of fairy tales. From when I was young to now, experiencing the sometimes harsh realities of being an adult, these enchanted stories have always been a part of me and held a very special place in my heart. When I first watched Once Upon A Time, I fell in love instantly given the subject. However, never in my life could I have imagined the impact it would have on my life and the incredible blessing it would become.
How did the various Evil Regal groups come into being?
Paige: When the cast first started becoming really active with fans on Twitter, each fan group wanted its own name. Most of the other cast members let fans come up with/vote on their own names, but Lana named us the Evil Regals herself (a fact I’ve always loved, and one of the reasons why I think Evil Regals are some of the most devoted and dedicated OUAT fans). That devotion and dedication led to the creation of various Evil Regal groups, the majority of which strive to unite the fandom in various ways. Marissa and I are proud to call ourselves two of the original Evil Regals, and we have had so much fun connecting with other Evil Regals from around the world throughout the past two and a half years. I think it’s amazing that people from all walks of life can come together, bond over a character and a TV show, create art, write essays/stories/letters, and work to make a positive impact on the world. That is all thanks to Lana and the creators of OUAT.
Marissa: I think what's so special about all the Evil Regals, is that it's made up of so many people from around the country and around the world. These are people who didn't know each other, and now fly to visit one another and go on adventures together (whether OUAT related or something different). All because they bonded over their mutual love of this amazing character and the inspiring woman that portrays her. Paige and I are a perfect example of this. We connected because of our love of Regina and OUAT, and it became the foundation for a friendship that I'm so very grateful for. It was so wonderful to be able to connect with someone who loved Regina as much as I did. Through Twitter and other avenues, I've been able to get to know many other Evil Regals which has been really neat! There are so many smart and talented Evil Regals, and it's awesome to be a part of such a cool group! It's all thanks to Regina, and to Lana Parrilla!
What is it about both Lana and her character that brings such devoted loyalty from her fans?
Paige: Lana has such a beautiful soul and spirit, and she has a big heart. I have been lucky enough to meet Lana several times now, and each time I’ve met her, she is always so loving, kind, and genuine. She truly cares about her fans, and she does all she can to make them feel appreciated. Lana’s message of hope and her support of LGBTQ rights and equality has inspired many – including myself – to get through life’s difficult times and celebrate life’s magical moments. As for the character of Regina, Lana has done an incredible job of making the iconic character of the Evil Queen human and relatable. We’ve gotten to see so many sides of Regina, and Lana has given her so many layers that I think everyone can relate to and identify with on some level. Ultimately, Regina has always wanted love and true happiness. I think that’s what we all want out of life. When you can be sassy and evil, while also having the audience want to reach through their TV screens and hug you and really want you to find your happy ending, you’re doing your job right, and Lana definitely is and then some. As Evil Regals, we often joke that Lana has our hearts locked up in Regina’s vault, which is a symbolic way of saying that Lana’s beautiful, loving soul and the character of Regina has captured our hearts and our unyielding devotion. However, I also think that Lana has given us her heart in many ways – through sending and favoriting tweets, sharing pictures, acknowledging her Evil Regals in interviews, and taking the time to meet fans, sign autographs, take pictures, and give hugs. I think it is the sharing of her heart that brings such devoted loyalty from her fans. By sharing her incredible talent, her inspirational spirit, and her loving heart with us, Lana has inspired me to be a better person, and I’m sure she has done the same for many others.
Marissa: I think the incredible love for Regina is a true testament to Lana. She has taken a character we thought we knew, and turned her into the most beautifully complex character I personally have ever seen. She has made an iconic Disney villain so incredibly human, and despite her wrongdoings, a woman you want to root for! I think so many of us feel like underdogs, and that's how I see Regina. She's a woman who has faced such incredible tragedy and betrayal, and became consumed and manipulated by darkness. She has been alone for so long and faced heartbreak after heartbreak. But deep inside her, she's always desperately longed to find true happiness, and to find hope and love – a real happy ending. I believe that's ultimately what we all want, which is why I think fans all over the world have fallen in love with this character. Also, how is it possible to not love that fantastic sass? We all have our own demons, and so often it feels like there's so much standing in our way – whether it’s ourselves, or something else. But despite the hardships we face, we dream of being able to overcome it all. Because of that, I think so many of us see parts of ourselves in Regina. That's thanks to the creation of this amazing character, and Lana's absolutely outstanding talent.
Lana is such an amazing, incredible woman, and it's truly impossible to put into words how much she inspires me. Her ability to touch the lives and hearts of people all around the world, with her warm heart and beautiful spirit, can truly only be described as magical. She teaches us how to be better women, and she's also a strong fighter for so many important causes that are important to so many, such as the HRC. With every role that she's played, she's not only provided us with endless entertainment, but she's brought people closer as friends. She also truly loves all of her Evil Regals, and I've had the incredible honor of witnessing that in person. She is, and will always be, such an inspiration to me and a most beautiful light in my life and in the lives of so many others!
Tell us about your experiences at PaleyFest in both 2012 and 2013.
Paige: PaleyFest 2012 and 2013 were two of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had. Deciding to go to PaleyFest 2012 was a pretty spontaneous decision, but it was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Sitting in a theatre full of fellow Oncers, watching a new episode on a giant screen, and spending an hour with the cast and creators while they talk about our favorite show is such a fantastic experience, one that I feel truly blessed to have experienced twice. Through a bit of magic, Marissa and I were able to sit in the front row and stand up and speak to the cast and creators during the Q&A session both years. Getting to meet and interact with the cast - including Lana - and Adam, Eddy, and Jane (Espenson) was such a magical experience for us, and we feel truly honored and blessed to have been given that opportunity. Marissa and I have always tried to represent the Evil Regals and all Oncers in the best, most positive and respectful way we can – at PaleyFest, on set in Vancouver, online, and in our daily lives in general – and we hope others feel we have succeeded in doing that.
Marissa: PaleyFest 2012 and 2013 were such incredible and magical experiences, I still can't believe they actually happened! To be able to see up-close the stars of my favorite show that has changed my life was truly amazing. To hear about their experiences filming, as well as some behind the scenes fun, was fantastic. Also, to watch an episode surrounded by other hard core Oncers was so unbelievably cool. To have everyone laugh, scream, and cheer together was such fun!
In 2012, we got to meet Lana for the first time. She was so excited to see our Evil Regal shirts, and it's a moment that we will never forget! We also had the honor of meeting and getting to talk with Raphael, Jane Espenson, and talk with Adam and Eddy. You could tell how happy they all were to know how much we were enjoying the show. We also got the opportunity to ask questions both years during the panel. At the 2013 event we wanted to express our love to the entire cast and crew and wanted to remind them how we, and so many others, are so grateful for all this show has given us, and that we would be with them every step of the way. In an age where the internet is used far too often to spread hate, we wanted to make sure they knew how much they're loved and supported.
How has OUAT inspired you personally?
Paige: Once Upon A Time has brought endless amounts of joy and love into my life. This magical show has inspired me by showing me that, no matter what, you always have to have hope. Even when I feel like I am at my lowest low, there is still a constant glimmer of hope inside me, and I believe OUAT helped to put it there. Much like the Once Upon A Time book appeared magically in Storybrooke at exactly the right time on the show, OUAT came into my life at a time when I needed it most – a time when I was in desperate need of hope. This show and its amazing cast have helped get me through some very hard times, and have shown me the power of faith, hope, and love. So many quotes from this show inspire me on a daily basis. For example, I always go back to Mary Margaret’s quote from the Pilot: “Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing.” Once Upon A Time has also inspired me by making me realize that everyone has a story to tell, and that no matter who you are, everyone deserves a happy ending. Once Upon A Time has truly brought magic into my life in so many ways, and I am forever thankful to the cast, crew, creators, and all those involved with this show for sharing these stories that continue to inspire so many people from all around the world.
Marissa: There truly are no words to describe what Once Upon A Time has done for me. Its universal messages of love, belief, and the internal battle of good vs. evil have inspired me in ways I will never be able to convey. Over the last several years I have struggled with self-esteem – often battling periods of depression. Once Upon A Time came into my life when I needed it most, while I was going through a very hard period in my life, and it has provided me with such joy and given me this tremendous sense of hope. It has given me so many incredible memories, a new best friend, and also the chance to meet and connect with so many wonderful people from around the country and the world. All of the incredible characters that Adam and Eddy have created have both light and darkness inside of them, and they have thus made them so incredibly human. Even coming from an enchanted land, their dreams and struggles are very similar to our own. And it is one of the many reasons why I, and so many others, feel such a connection to these characters and their stories. Once Upon A Time has taught me that even though we may not possess the magical ability to disappear, throw fireballs, or spin straw into gold, we all possess inside us the most powerful magic of all: love. And from that love comes strength and courage to be brave, strong, and to fight for ourselves and what we believe in. And in the world that we live in today – one filled too often with such hate and unexplainable cruelty – that is truly one of the greatest gifts one could ever ask for. I am forever grateful to Lana, to Adam and Eddy, and to the entire OUAT family!
Have you made new friends through the fandom?
Paige: Absolutely! Marissa and I actually met and became the best of friends because of OUAT (the first time we met each other was when we met up at PaleyFest 2012). I’ve made new friends through the various social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, etc.); I’ve made friends in Vancouver as a result of going to see where OUAT is filmed; and I’ve even found fellow Oncers who go to the same college as I do, such as Sarah (@PhoenixHeart815), who also participated in these fandom interviews.
Paige: Ooh, I can’t pick just one! How about Top 5 (in no particular order): (1) “The Stable Boy” – As a long-time fan of the Evil Queen, I had been anxiously awaiting Regina’s backstory, and this episode definitely delivered. Seeing Regina young and in love was so sweet, and to see her happy ending get ripped away from her was so heartbreaking; the whole episode made me love Regina even more, and Lana’s performance in this episode is absolutely breathtaking. (2) “An Apple Red As Blood” – It was so awesome to finally see OUAT’s twist on the iconic apple scene between the Evil Queen and Snow White. (3) “We Are Both” – Not only do I love this episode because of its overall message and because it was the start of Regina’s redemption arc, but this was also the episode Marissa and I saw being filmed the first time we visited Vancouver; every time I watch it, all of those magical memories come flooding back! (4) “Save Henry” – I and many other Evil Regals had been so hoping to see the backstory of how Regina adopted baby Henry, and this episode was everything I had hoped for and more. (5) “Going Home” – While absolutely heartbreaking, this episode has such beautiful, intense, emotional moments for every fan group in the OUAT fandom; the scene at the town line is one of the best, most beautiful scenes in the entire series.
Marissa: My new favorite episode is “Save Henry”! To see how Regina adopted Henry was the story I've been dying to see from the beginning, and it was so beautifully done! Lana was absolute perfection, and the entire episode was a wonderful tribute to the love of a mother for her child. I had tears from beginning to end! “The Stable Boy”, however, is a close second for me!
Hopes for the next part of Season 3/Season 4?
Paige: As a lifelong fan of The Wizard of Oz and a devoted fan of the Broadway musical Wicked – along with all things Disney – I am super excited to see the introduction of Oz to OUAT, as well as the Evil vs. Wicked showdown. I had been hoping that Adam and Eddy would incorporate The Wizard of Oz at some point, and seeing my two favorite fictional characters – the Evil Queen and the Wicked Witch of the West – face off against each other is going to be so amazing to watch! I always look forward to seeing more character and relationship development amongst our core characters. I also hope to see more Regina and Henry moments, and I hope that Regina, Henry, and Emma are reunited as a family soon. There was so much beautiful progress made in their family dynamic in the first half of Season Three (i.e., going from “my son” to “our son” and group hugs); those are some of my favorite moments, and I hope to see that continue throughout the rest of the series.
Marissa: I'm excited to see continued focus on the core characters and their relationships with each other. From Regina and Snow, to Emma and Regina becoming friends and co-parents of Henry, to Emma's complicated relationship with her own parents. I also hope we can see Regina and Henry's relationship have a chance to truly develop and grow. So much has happened, particularly with Neverland, and now this new curse – and I'm hopeful for mother and son to be reunited, and get a chance to rebuild their relationship. Also, I am so pumped to see the Wicked Witch of the West and for Evil vs. Wicked! To see my most favorite villains of all time go head to head is something I never thought I'd get the opportunity to see. I can't wait to see where it goes! Also, what happened to Rumpelstiltskin?!
Who do you think will die?
Marissa: I'm not a fan of big spoilers. I do think I know who it will be, but I think it's more fun to have everyone come up with their own theories until it is finally revealed on the show. But whoever it is, it's going to be sad! Each character is loved by many and will be missed.
Sum up the fandom in 3 words.
Paige: Passionate, Intense, Fun
Marissa: Passionate, Devoted, Smart