An Open Cover/Love Letter to Omaze,

(CLover Letter?)

Dear Omaze,

You and I were made for each other. I know that comes on a bit strong, but I’ve been waiting for a company like this to exist and admiring your campaigns for a few years now. I kid you not, circa 2013, before I’d ever heard of Omaze, I was fantasizing about starting a company to connect celebrities with charities (I wanted to license Captain America to raise money for PTSD related charities). When I discovered you already existed and were already working with people like Robert Downey Jr. and the Sons of Anarchy, I was disappointed and thrilled. Disappointed because someone else had beaten me to my ambition. Thrilled because it existed in the world already and there was a chance for me to be a part of it.

I’ve been a big fandom nerd since I started writing X-Files fanfiction featuring Mulder and Scully as my real parents, and my 8th grade math teacher in a supporting role.

In high school I met my best friend via Harry Potter fanfic recommendations. My fiancé and I first noticed each other in a playwrighting class during our MFAs when the teacher explicitly told us we couldn’t write any “fantasy sci-fi stuff” and we simultaneously groaned.

He says I sealed the deal by wearing a Detroit Red Wings jersey to class — we went to school in Savannah, GA. Fandom is a huge part of my life and it is a recurring theme in some of my best days ever.

For example, while studying for my Masters of Arts in Performance Studies at NYU Tisch, I discovered the blog of Henry Jenkins, one of the founders of the field of fandom studies. I devoured as much of the blog as I could — he is a bit longwinded, though that’s a little pot/kettle — and picked up his most well known book, Textual Poachers. Suddenly, I NEEDED to become a fan studies scholar and I desperately hoped I’d be able to study with Dr. Jenkins. I almost didn’t apply to USC Annenberg, but my (now) fiancé and my two best friends (via HP fandom, of course) urged me to give it a go. I did, and much, much earlier than expected I got an email telling me that Henry Jenkins would like to have a Skype meeting with me. TL;DR, Henry Jenkins is now my academic advisor and I am now in the second year of my PhD with a focus in transmedia and fandom studies.

To pitch myself in one sentence:

I want to help people and tell stories, preferably simultaneously.

For my dissertation I hope to launch the first annual (fingers crossed) ColorCon, a pop-culture/academic hybrid convention dedicated to highlighting the work of characters, artists and thinkers of color.

Given the opportunity to run and participate in my own Omaze campaign I would invite Hayley Atwell to raise money for women in leadership positions, perhaps through Young Women’s Leadership Network. The reward for the winners would be a mini bootcamp that involved martial arts, parkour and paintball lessons with Hayley, and, if possible, either Chris Evans, or other lead actors from the Agent Carter timeline such as James D’Arcy (Edwin Jarvis), Enver Gjokaj (Daniel Sousa), Bridget Regan (Dottie Underwood), Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark), Lyndsy Fonseca (Angie Martinelli) and/or other supporting cast members.

Finally, I hope you don’t take my casual tone for a lack of professionalism.

I wholeheartedly welcome you to speak with the PhD Faculty and Students at USC Annenberg who will attest to my commitment both to social justice and to my work. Rather I chose to be frank because I think a deliberate choice to be radically candid engenders and accelerates intimacy. Intimacy, in turn, leads to empathy and empathy deescalates conflict. I hope this model of behavior performs like I theorize, but if not, I’ll simply have to try again.

Sincerely awaiting your reply,

-joan miller

Doctoral Student, USC Annenberg

MA in Performance Studies, NYU Tisch

MFA in Screenwriting, SCAD

-BA in Theatre Arts, Kalamazoo College

Links:

student circus org

Social Justice Action Team 6