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Walker Stalker Nashville Tag

#TWDFamily Part 1

It’s not just fandom. It’s family.” If you are at all familiar with Walker Stalker Convention or Heroes and Villains Fan Fest, you’ve probably seen this tag line before. Though I’d seen it, I had never put much thought into what it meant until I experienced this family for myself. From attending the conventions as a fan to beginning this podcast with Kia, I have witnessed a fandom that supports each other with their whole hearts. I have seen people come together for each other in a way that can only be described as magical. Their one common thread? They love The Walking Dead and attending the conventions that celebrate their favorite show.

In this four part series, I will be chatting with many of the people that make up this family. Today, I am highlighting the volunteers and ambassadors that have helped make the conventions you love happen.

What made you decide to volunteer for WSC vs attending as a fan?

Lauren with The Walking Dead star Khary Payton

Lauren (volunteered for WSC ATL 2016 & HVFF ATL 2016): I decided to volunteer because I have previous convention experience, both being as a fan and a volunteer and I wanted to utilize my experience with WSC.

Calli Newman (volunteered for 1 WSC): I love volunteering for different events. Am a fan of the show so it was the best of both worlds.

Jeff Wagoner (4 time WSC volunteer): I decided to volunteer instead of attending because, this might sound crazy, but I love to people watch! I love to see the reactions from the fans and the celebrities as they meet one another. Nothing else like it! Seeing the smiles and laughs on each other’s faces is so awesome!

Kimberly Lujan (3 time WSC volunteer): I originally bought tickets to attend in 2015. When I found out that you could volunteer and work with the cast that I admired so much, I signed up and was accepted. Since then, I will try to work as many as I can. We don’t volunteer anymore. Since we are now paid for our time, we are called “ambassadors.” For me, being on a fixed income, the money really helps. Working allows you access to the same event for free and it helps on costs. I believe that WSC wanted to help compensate us for some of our travel expenses. I think that’s awesome!

Kimberly T (3 time volunteer, including WSC ATL 2017): I really have no clue! I found WSC randomly one day when I was bored at work.  I clicked the volunteer tab and on a whim signed me and my husband up.  This was months before the actual con.  I’d actually forgotten all about it and then I got an email saying I was accepted to volunteer.  In those days it was kind of like a lottery for who got chosen and who didn’t.  They always made it clear that they wanted to give as many people the chance to volunteer as they could so just because you were picked for one didn’t mean you would automatically be picked for another.  Had we not been picked to volunteer we probably would have attended as a guest otherwise.

What do you love most about volunteering for WSC?

Karen Crawford (WSC ATL will be her 4th time volunteering): The best part of being an Ambassador is helping the attendees. Whether it’s just showing them where they need to be, explaining a process they don’t understand, or holding a little girl’s hand when she is overwhelmed with excitement to meet a celeb.

Jeff Wagoner with Walking Dead fave Alanna Masterson

Jeff Wagoner: What I love most about volunteering at the conventions is getting to work along side the celebrities and them really treating you like the celebrity! They always tell us they are just like us with high profile jobs that’s all! Also what I love most is they remember you when they see you working again!

Calli: The people. I got to work with a fun group. Also seeing and helping put smiles on guest faces was a big highlight.

Kelsey Odle (volunteered for WSC and HVFF Nashville): I LOVE being able to see people meet their favorite actor or actress.

Kimberly Lujan: In the beginning, it was the fact that I got to be near the cast and producers of my favorite show. NOW, I enjoy being a part of a huge family and group of people that I can depend on and that accept my nerdiness without any judgment. I Also work in customer service so I love to interact with the people and fans. We are there to make their experience an awesome one.

Anna (3 time WSC volunteer): I loved helping people and seeing their excitement.

Kayla H (one time WSC volunteer): I loved the fans. As an attendee, you are consumed with what you want & who you want to see, you forget the other fans. As a volunteer/ambassador I got to see so many people meet their favorite villain.

Do you have a favorite memory or story from your time spent volunteering for WSC?

Lauren: Probably getting to work the Tom Payne line last year. Everyone said I was the best volunteer in that line and I took that as a major compliment. He signed my shirt before I left. It was the best.

Karen Crawford: My favorite memory is from WSC Nashville 2017.  I was working Steven Yeun’s Line, and a disabled woman came up to me and starting asking questions.  It was her very first WSC, and she was Gold.  She didn’t understand what she needed to do with her photo ops, her autographs, or where she needed to be at what time.  I excused myself from my line and walked her over to CelebPhotoOps so she could choose her photos.  A little while later, as I was still working Steven’s Line, but was up at the front this time, she came back.  She was so excited that she got to meet Steven, and got his photo op.  She thanked me profusely, and then gave me the biggest hug I think I’ve ever had! I tried not to cry, but I’m sure there were some tears that escaped. Working the cons isn’t about being close to he celebs, it’s about being close to the attendees… making it the most memorable experience they have ever had.  Seeing the smiles and excitement on the faces of the attendees warms my heart so much. It just makes me feel good that I can be a part of all of this!

Jeff Wagoner: My favorite memory from my time of volunteering is working with Lorenzo Henrie in Charlotte in 2016! He kept bringing me food from the green room and we kept throwing candy into the crowd walking by! We had such a blast.

Kelsey Odle: My favorite memory as an ambassador would have to be from Walker Stalker Con Nashville. At this WSC, I was working with Steven Yeun. Steven was a little late getting to the convention on Sunday and there was a girl around the age of 12 standing in the front of the Gold VIP line. We were able to talk awhile because Steven was late and, as she was telling me how much she loved Steven, she burst into tears and started shaking. She asked me if I had ever met him. I told her that I had and Steven was the sweetest person. I also told her that if it were possible, she may even love him more after she met him and not to be nervous because he was so amazing. Steven arrived and I watched this little girl meet him and get a hug from him with tears in her eyes. She came back through the Gold VIP line just so she could give me a hug, thank me for talking to her, and tell me that I helped ease her nerves while waiting.

Anna: There are so many favorite memories…all of them. I think one of my favorites was assisting with escorting a Walking Hope survivor to a few tables, and sharing a few of my photo ops with him and his family.

Kimberly T: Probably my “Baby Negan’s” 15 seconds of fame via Twitter.  Meeting Jeffrey Dean Morgan was SO fun! We dressed our little Finley up as baby Negan and his reaction was priceless.  He said….”awwwww….ohhhhhh… a baby Negan!!! Can I hold her?” So of course we handed her over and he was so sweet with her.  Even better, some of his “people” took candid shots on the side and emailed us copies later.  We even went back and had him autograph the picture the next day.  A few days later, we noticed Finley’s picture floating around Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and it was even tweeted by Skybound Entertainment which was pretty huge to us! We will definitely remember that forever.

Kayla H: There was a little boy who loves Negan. JDM was presale only unless they opened the lines up. On Saturday, they were able to open his line to everyone else, who didn’t already purchase a autograph. When I was able to find his parents and tell them, the little boys face lit up ! He was so excited. After he walked out, he ran over & hugged my legs saying thank you. That one little moment made my entire weekend. Seeing a fan, that small, so happy was why I wanted to volunteer again.

 

Interested in becoming a Walker Stalker Con ambassador? Check out their website for more details!

Mel’s Weekend at WSC Nashville

My friend Heather and I doing the tango with Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Norman Reedus

Not a lot of people can say they did the tango with Norman Reedus on their 29th birthday. (Or on the fifth anniversary of their 29th birthday….who’s counting, am I right?) But Walker Stalker con is just out here making dreams come true. For me, WSC Nashville can only be described as magical. As I walked through the doors on  June 3rd (my birthday eve), I felt like a kid on Christmas. If the presents were hugs from Cooper Andrews, selfies with Michael Cudlitz, and kisses from Jeffrey Dean Morgan. (Does this analogy make Norman Reedus Santa Claus?) Here are some of the highlights from my WSC weekend!

Kia and I with Cooper Andrews

 

Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Jeffrey 👏🏻 Dean 👏🏻 Morgan👏🏻  If you’ve been listening to our podcast/known me for five minutes, you know my love for this man runs deep. I had the opportunity to meet him in Atlanta, (You can hear more about our Atlanta WSC adventures here.) but I was so flabbergasted that I completely spaced on what I wanted to say to him.

My photo op with Jeffrey Dean Morgan

In Nashville, I finally got my chance. He gave me his undivided attention and was so gracious, kind, and caring. I have had the good fortune of meeting many celebrities, but there isn’t anyone as sweet as Jeffrey Dean Morgan or any cast member from The Walking Dead. Period. The moment I got to have with him a couple of hours before this photo was taken was priceless. To hear more about this special moment, click here.

 

A tale of two Negans

 

The BEST  cosplayers ever. You may have already seen our interview with Rick Grimes cosplayer “Trick Grimes,” but there were many more fantastic costumes roaming the show floor. Some of my favorites were the kiddos dressed as their favorite post apocalyptic bad guy, Negan.

You know my heart beats for Richonne.

The cosplay contest is always a highlight of any Walker Stalker. The categories are broken down into survivors, walkers, and kids with one overall winner. In Nashville there were many creative costumes, but none quite rivaled contest winner Alexandro Quiles who cosplayed as Jerry. Quiles captured Jerry’s look and adorable personality perfectly.

The cosplayer contest finalists including winner Alexandro Quiles

The People. This part is two fold. Obviously, one of the the main reasons you attend WSC is to meet the actors behind your favorite TWD characters. It is always fun to spend a couple of moments with someone like Ross Marquand and get to hear one of his amazing impressions. If taking selfies is more your style, you will love being goofy with Michael Cudlitz, Josh McDermitt, and Steven Ogg. If Norman Reedus is attending the WSC near you, make sure you pre purchase an autograph (more info on that at the official Walker Stalker Con website), so you can know the bliss that is Norman taking your hand from across the table. He makes sure every fan feels loved.

Amanda and Heather are two of the awesome friends I have met because of WSC!

One of my favorite things about WSC is the family of friends you make because of your mutual love for all things TWD. Every time I go to one, I walk away with at least one new friend. If you are attending WSC in the near future, I fully suggest joining one of the many fan groups on Facebook. Walker Stalker Con Meet Up is one of my faves! There you can connect with other folks attending the convention in your town and coordinate hang outs. Many of the people in the group have been to WSC before so they are also a wealth of knowledge and are happy to help answer any questions you may have. Some of my favorite people on the planet I have met all because of this convention. Don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with other fans in line or stop that person in the badass Michonne costume. It might be the beginning of an awesome friendship!

Katelyn Nacon delighted WSC attendees with a musical performance

The music. You probably don’t think of Walker Stalker and music as two things that necessarily go together. However, if you have ever had the chance to attend you know that Katelyn Nacon has the voice of an angel! If you’ve never heard her sing Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ click here. At some WSC events, you might get to hear Jordan Woods-Robinson perform too! Check out his tunes here.

IronE Singleton putting out the birthday call to everyone and their mama at WSC Nashville

The ‘Birthday Chair’ is totally a thing. When I visited IronE Singleton’s booth on June 4th(also my birthday), he noticed the ginormous gift bag I was carrying around that one of my friends had gifted me with. Mid conversation he told me I would have to get in the birthday chair. Then, we continued our conversation about things unrelated to birthdays, took a photo, got some of those famous IronE hugs, and were about to be on our merry little way. Then IronE says, “Where do you think you’re going? You have to get in the birthday chair!” I said, “Oh wait, so that’s a real thing?” IronE proceeded to laugh at my naivety and say that OF COURSE it was a real thing. He pulled a chair out to the front of his booth and asked me to be seated. He then proceeded to yell out TO THE ENTIRE CONVENTION that it was my birthday and asked everyone to say ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. Have you heard this man speak?! He can project like nobody’s business. Also, when he tells you to take your bow afterwards, he means it. Thanks, IronE for helping make my birthday so memorable and special. Also, embarrassing. 😂

A view of the Skybound booth

The loot. There’s lots of fantastic vendors at WSC. Of course you can always find some unique t-shirts (and I always suggest hitting the WSC march booth for a convention t-shirt), but theres so much more. You will find action figures, tote bags, life size cut outs of Negan (totally thought about purchasing one), and amazing artwork.  One of my favorite vendors was one belonging to artist Kirk Manley. Kirk makes special limited edition prints for each city that you can purchase at the conventions. But he only makes a small amount and once they’re gone they’re gone! The detailing in his pieces is unreal! For Nashville he did a country music theme. You can check out his latest work and the Nashville print on his Instagram.

The promise of more to come. I love that our friends at Walker Stalker understand that we all get a little sad post convention. You spend months looking forward to the experience and then it flies by so fast. These guys didn’t waste any time putting WSC Nashville 2018 on the books for May 12 and 13 at the Music City Center. It’s not too early to buy your tickets and start planning! Visit the Walker Stalker Con website to see if WSC is coming to a city near you!

 

 

Meet “TRICK GRIMES”

At first glance your heart might plummet to your stomach. You might think to yourself, “It can’t be him, right? There’s no way! IS THAT ANDY LINCOLN?! IS RICK GRIMES REAL?! WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?!’ These are all thoughts I had when I saw Rick Grimes cosplayer Trent Roberts at Walker Stalker Nashville. Though I can assure you, after careful inspection, he is in fact NOT Rick Grimes. But he’s pretty damn close.

First, tell me a little background on you. What is your day job? How did you get into cosplaying as our favorite python wielding badass?

Roberts with his sons Josh and Zak

I live in the Dallas area but [am] originally from Louisiana. My “real” job is Regional Sales Manager for a Whiskey company so I stay very busy with a lot of travel. That’s why I have to be selective on how many events I can do as a cosplayer. As for how this started, I have been a fan of the show since day one. From the age of about 20 or so I’ve always had a beard and longer hair. Every once in a while I would change up and shave but it wouldn’t last long, so I’ve looked like Rick way before there was a Rick. Starting about season 3 I started having people notice and comment on my resemblance. Then early in 2016 my sons wanted to go to a comic con in Dallas and suggested I dress as Rick and they ended up regretting the suggestion. We started getting stopped for pics in the parking lot and once we entered we couldn’t walk more than 10 feet at a time before getting stopped for another picture. It didn’t help that my youngest son dressed as Carl. He quickly got tired of hearing “Ccooorrallll”. This is where someone mentioned to me that I should go to a Walker Stalker Con. I had never heard of it but went home and looked at future dates.

How many Walker Stalker conventions have you attended?

Roberts in Trick Grimes mode

The first one was Dallas last year and then Atlanta last October. Nashville was my first working WSC. I did attend Dallas FanExpo twice and another smaller con or two in the Dallas area. Megacon the week before was my very first con to work. I will be attending A-kon this weekend but not cosplaying because I want my boys to be able to enjoy themselves even though they realize even in regular clothes I will probably still get stopped some. Oh and I forgot one of the most fun things I’ve done with this, the cruise.

Do you have any memorable moments from this past weekend’s convention in Nashville?

Too many. Even though I am working some of these now I still have a hard time thinking of myself as a professional cosplayer. This is for fun and to give fans a great experience. I guess a couple of times this weekend we had fans with either physical or mental disabilities and to see their faces light up makes it all worthwhile. Also, it’s funny how many of the fans that I have to actually convince I am not Andrew.

 What’s been the best part of attending WSC?

The fans. I didn’t realize how close knit a family this was. I have started seeing the same people now at multiple events and started forming friendships. I also have to say that through this I have had the pleasure to meet many of the stars of the show and they have all been incredibly nice.

Roberts with Michael Cudlitz, who played Abraham on The Walking Dead

Which ones did you meet and what was their reaction to you? Have you met the elusive Andy Lincoln yet?

I’ve met Steven Yeun, Scott Wilson, Greg Nicotero, Michael Rooker, Michael Cudlitz, Chandler Riggs. In Nashville, Irone came up to me hugged me and complimented me on my resemblance as did Chad Coleman who I happened to run into in the restroom of all places. I was lucky enough to get to ask Andrew a question at his panel in Atlanta. Norman was on stage and saw me first and said to him “he looks just like you” and then Andrew asked if I could fill in for him at work on Monday. It was nice to get the acknowledgement. I have also met a couple of the saviors and they have said the resemblance is uncanny. Norman passed me on the walkway as we were boarding for the cruise and even he did a double take when he saw me then even in street clothes. Gave me a thumbs up.

Kia and I were majorly creeping on you in Nashville because you look SO much like Rick. All the way down to the swagger. As someone who has met Andy in person, the swagger is an integral part to being Andy/Rick. Is the swagger learned or is that just you being you?

I’ve had people say I even walk like him but that is just my normal walk. For most of my life I have worn cowboy boots almost daily, so I’m sure that is part of the natural walk. I’ll admit though that once the jacket and gun belt go on it probably amplifies it a bit.

So, be honest, is it weird when people stare you down (*ahem* kind of like we did?😳)?

Sometimes. I’m still wrapping my head around all this. It is weird to me the way people act towards me and I’m not even the guy. I just look like the guy. The one thing I want to make very clear to everyone, I am not the celebrity here. Even when fans know I’m not him they get all emotional around me or are afraid to approach me. Please don’t do that. I’m just a regular guy who happens to look like someone famous. That doesn’t make me famous. I have been around enough cons now to see that there are too many professional cosplayers who think they are celebrities and have the attitude to go with it. That’s not why I’m doing this. I enjoy cutting up and having fun with everyone and I hope that if nothing else people will know me as the fun, nice Rick cosplayer.

How difficult was it to acquire the Rick Grimes wardrobe (including his famous murder coat)?

Roberts showing off the infamous Murder Coat

I’m kind of a perfectionist about this. If I’m going to do it I have to be true to the character. There are a lot of Rick coat options out there but I wanted to make sure the collar was the right color and pocket zippers were at the right angle. I also had a few comments early on that my wardrobe was to new and clean so I took the jacket with me to my deer lease and drug it down the gravel roads behind my 4 wheeler. I also would freeze frame the show to see exactly where there were rips or fraying on his shirts and pants in order to duplicate as accurately as possible. The only other two significant expenses were the gun belt and Colt Python. I ordered the exact Tex Shoemaker holster that he uses in the show and again made sure I had all the accessories on the belt exactly as he does. The Python was a CO2 pistol that I modified the grip and replaced with actual Colt grips. It looks and feels just like the real thing now. The beat up boots, jeans and tshirt were obviously easy.

Do you have a favorite wardrobe item?

The gun belt. I grew up watching westerns and reading Louis Lamour books and always said I should have been born in the 1800’s. When I put that on I just feel like the sheriff getting ready for a gun fight.

Do you ever get stopped when you’re out and about because people think you’re Andy Lincoln?

Everyday. Especially because I do spend a lot of time in airports due to my real job. It always happens when I’m walking through and out of the corner of my eye I see people sitting at gates tapping the person next to them and pointing at me. Or, I walk by a group and over my shoulder I hear ” OMG that was…..”. It was just funny to my friends and family but now it’s kind of like, can we not go anywhere with you that someone doesn’t come over. We were at Universal Orlando for spring break and my sons wanted pics with they people in the Bart and Homer Simpson costumes. Now I’m on vacation in shorts, flip flops, tshirt and sunglasses. When my boys were finished and we were about to walk away we hear Homer say “excuse me but can we get a picture with Rick”. I’ve been to Senoiaabout 3 times now and have had interactions with people there who have been face to face with Andrew, sometimes on a regular basis. They have approached me and started a conversation as if I’m him. I’ve had to stop them and identify myself.

Trent Roberts (left) side by side with Andrew Lincoln (right)

What do you love most about cosplaying as Rick Grimes?

Having the opportunity to due some charitable work due to this resemblance is great. I have committed to due an event for a children’s charity in Vancouver this October and hopefully this will open doors for more. Talking to fans and hearing that I may be the closest they ever get to meeting Rick is another motivation to make sure they have a memorable experience when they meet me.

 

Make sure to follow Trick Grimes on Facebook and Instagram.

 

5 Minutes and 13 Seconds With Cooper Andrews

Khary Payton as Ezekiel, Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Cooper Andrews as Jerry, Logan Miller as Benjamin, Kerry Cahill as Dianne – The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Cooper Andrews won hearts all over The Walking Dead fandom when he appeared on screen for the first time in Season 7 as Kaaang Ezekiel’s comical sidekick Jerry. After the airing of Season 7 Episode 2 The Well, the interwebs were all abuzz wondering who was bringing this beautiful creature to life. ‘If Jerry Dies We Riot’ memes were being created and things were getting pretty serious. From his witty banter with Ezekiel to his affinity for cobbler, Jerry quickly became a fan favorite.

Cooper Andrews at Walker Stalker Nashville 2017

 

 

His acceptance into the #TWDFamily was cemented by the amount of fans clamoring to meet Andrews at his first ever Walker Stalker appearance in Nashville this past weekend. Fans lined up both days of the convention to meet their new favorite character and he did not disappoint. He came armed with peach cobbler (YES. He brought cobbler, y’all!), lots of laughs, and the best hugs. When the staff needed his attention, we watched as he had a WSC ambassador flag down the fan he had been talking to just to make sure she got a good photo and sent her off with a big hug.

Cosplayer Alexandro Quiles as Jerry

Fans got in the Cooper Andrews spirit when they voted Jerry cosplayer Alexandro Quiles as the winner of the WSC Cosplay Contest. Quiles said, “I chose to cosplay Jerry because he’s a cool new character and I love that he is super funny!” He also makes sure to stay in character. “I love to do the peace sign and say ‘Deuces!'”At the close of the contest fans cheered, “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!” making it abundantly clear who would be taking home the prize.

A peach cobbler toast in honor of meeting Cooper

At the close of Walker Stalker, we decided there was only one way to end our magical experience. In honor of our new friend Cooper, we toasted the weekend over a giant peach cobbler.

Listen in below as we talk convention life and all things cobbler with the one and only, Cooper Andrews! Make sure to follow him on Instagram and Twitter.