Jared Padalecki, AKF, Conventions, and Creation Entertainment’s message

I grew up with network television as my main source of entertainment for at least 6 months of the year. I remember our first television- a black and white set with a screen that had probably about a 12 inch diagonal. I’d been to one convention for a TV show in 2008. It was a very intimate group of about 30 people and one of the stars of the show, Combat!, that ended its run in 1967. It was very special and I  made some awesome friends there. I knew I’d be hitting the other end of the convention spectrum if I went to an SPN convention. I decided in February of 2015 to attend  when SPN came for the first time to Minneapolis in August. It was an easy decision- the show was in its 10th season and neither of us were getting any younger. It was expensive, but I had 6 months to save up.

My Supernatural Convention experience wasn’t all great, but I was blown away by several really good things. All the cast at the convention were friendly and entertaining, but Chad Lindberg, Mark Sheppard, and Sebastian Roche were SO incredible. Chad and his ghost hunting stories fascinated me. I thought Mark would be a bit stand offish and difficult with fans, but he actually is just so intelligent and clever I could listen to him forever, and his love of the fans is obvious. I expected that Sebastian would be too much ( had always heard he told too many raunchy jokes, etc,) but the truth is, he was incredibly entertaining and infused the crowd with such energy. It was a sight to behold! When I got his autograph, I thanked him and shared how much he made me laugh. He replied, “Then I did my job, darling.”  I  also have to mention Richard Speight Jr.. He does an amazing job and again, is such an intelligent and thoughtful person.

I was captivated by Loudon Swain and the Saturday night concert. Holy cow! They are good. Rob Benedict’s performance still haunts me. It was unexpected. I thought they’d be an average band. No way. They are WAY better than that. They have a new fan now.

So, now to the nitty gritty of this post. I’m a big Jared Padalecki fan. I feel like I’ve watched him grow up and loved his boy-next-door appeal on Gilmore Girls. He’s grown a lot as an actor and his character, Sam Winchester, is one of my 2 all-time favorite male TV characters. I’ve never been much of a follower of actors/actresses private lives and behind the scenes antics, but being in the SPN fandom makes following these (primarily) guys lives pretty standard. It was fun to discover that Jared seems just as sweet and genuine as I would hope he would be. As often stated, Jensen and Jared are nice people, and that makes it SO easy to continue to love this show. Seeing Jared in person and watching/interacting a bit with him during autographs confirmed in my mind that he is a sensitive person who maybe hasn’t learned enough about protecting himself. Last Spring, Jared let us all know that he struggles with some depression and he had over-extended himself and needed to drop out of the convention scene and take a break. It was a healthy choice and I’m guessing that his love and respect for fans was what motivated him to share personal information and explain his absence. At Minncon however; I was shocked by the number of people who came up to the microphones and shared personal issues as part of thanking Jared for AKF. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised, but my mindset at the time was one of just wanting/expecting a fun time. I felt sorry for the sad experiences of these fans, but resented the tears I was shedding in reaction to their stories. I felt like a jerk, but I just wanted to hear questions about the show and the characters. Jared, however, didn’t hesitate for a second in approaching and hugging people-giving them that attention and reassurance. Jensen joined him, but also helped pull him back, which was good. Point is, I started asking myself, “How much of this could a person take?–especially a person who has their own depression issues?” I got scared for Jared. I still am.

I went back to my hotel room and wrote out a short letter to Jared about an experience I had had at the school where I work. It was about a tragedy that resulted from depression, but it focused on the positive things that came out of students reacting to it, and let him know I wear my AKF shirt sometimes on Fridays at school. That night, I waited in the autograph lines to get MIsha, Jensen, and Jared’s autographs. Misha and Jensen were in a room together and their line was moving fairly quickly. I apologized to Misha for Minnesota–sounds lame, I know, but I’m a native Minnesotan and I feel so sorry about his mugging. Then, I went on to Jensen and just stared at the top of his head while he signed. I couldn’t think of what to say. Then he asked me how I was doing and I think I said, “I’m Gooooooood”, (LOL–I’m really bad at this sort of thing! )  I moved onto Jared’s line, which was very long. As I finally got into the room, there was Jared with a fan’s soccer ball (she was a high school player and had the cast signing the ball). He asked her if he could kick it and she said yes. I got to watch those long legs kick the thing (on second attempt-first hit a step) to the top of a tall set of bleacher seating in the room. It was impressive and fun. He gave her a hug and sat back down. The whole thing made me relax enough to give him the letter-telling him it was a cool story and maybe sometime he might want to read it. He put it in his pocket. I then extended my hand, which he quickly shook. I appreciated that to no end.

After the convention, I read about Vancon and Jared having to step away for awhile from autographs. I then read about Creation’s request that fans not approach the cast  at cons with their tragedies because of the effect on the cast. I have read posts from fans saying that we need to just support troubled fans and not ask them to stop sharing at conventions. I’m not sure where the cast stands on this, but I want to throw my two cents in at this point. I believe that fans who want to thank the cast for shining a light on depression and mental illness or thank them for being a positive influence in convincing them to have hope and to seek help, should do so through letters and emails–as so many have done. The support among fans and cast is tremendous. I believe that in some cases, telling a cast member that they “saved my life” is too heavy and could put too much of a burden on that person. I also feel that conventions should be a celebration and that a simple “thank you for AKF” or contributions to local affiliated charities that are present in the vendors area, go a long way to show the widespread appreciation fans have for the casts generosity and caring.

I hope I don’t sound too “preachy” and promise I will refrain from this in future posts. As we move into season 11 (can’t believe it!) and I still am digesting that awesome premiere last night (OMG-Sam’s already infected), I have hopes for an amazing ride for all of us!  Cheers!!!!!            –AB/C

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7 Comments

  1. I have to say if you are a big SPN you must try to attend at least one convention. Do not let anything sway you. There could be rough patches, but you’ll love every minute of it and you’ll love the cast/show even more. Trust me. Dallascon 2015 was one wild ride for me, a few hiccups, a few people who just didn’t know how to shut up (especially during Misha’s panel), but still I loved it. While the panels can be entertaining, I offer this advice to any first time con goers: DO AS MANY PHOTO OPS as you can afford. Seriously, they take the cake. Sure, it can go by in a blur but when you see the printed photo it’s usually worth it.

    And I wholeheartedly agree that sometimes we forget that they are just people. In fact, I had to remind myself several times at the con, seriously? Come on, calm down, they’re just regular people…but they do give their time and effort into these cons. I can genuinely see that the conventions are therapeutic for some of cast members, but in the end there are some lines that shouldn’t be crossed. I understand wanting to express how AKF or anything the boys’/ cast members did to help you, but after while I kind of agree that it could turn into placing burdens or too much expectation on the actors.

    P.S. If there is any truth to the IMDB post about the razor blade. I really do hope that that person was immediately escorted out of the building and razor blade confiscated. Because I would be just as frightened for myself, others and the person who has it (self-harm). It’s a weapon, they are armed and if this did happen I would hope to the heavens that security around Jared and/or creation security (maybe even the occasional police officer that is there) escorted them off the premises.

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  2. Agreed. I think that fans tend to forget that our favorite actors are real people who do not want to hear endless stories of personal tragedies. No matter how nice a person is should not be taken as licence to reveal unsolicited personal information. Although I would love to believe that Jared, Jensen and I are besties, they wouldn’t know me from a can of paint and in reality, I don’t know them either. I just see their faces on TV.

    I’m glad that you had a good experience at the con and I am planning on attending at least one before the show goes off the air (which may be a long, long time from now).

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  3. Although Sam is affected and we see it visibly, I’m thinking Dean is affected as well with something besides guilt. Sam sends Dean to “do what he always does”- saving children? and let us wonder just want happened with Amara in that darkness fog? For what was he selected? While I think it is great to be supportive of fans and their issues with depression or tragedy, IMHO we do not need to hear all the details during question panels- this has to be difficult for the actors. They are already on a tight schedule and giving us themselves. Conventions can be therapeutic, but sometimes there is oversharing then followed by a shallow question- how weird this must be to remain on stage through it all. Creation does a decent job of protecting the actors so they must have justification for their rules. Of course, that hasn’t stopped everyone from sharing in public. We like to think we know the actors, but seriously do we? Should we?

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  4. I think I read some where maybe it was on IMDb that a fan had showed Jared in the autograph section a razor blade which freaked him and he had to get up and walk away, it was to much pressure on him after his recent episode. This I think was there the convention sent out this message of getting too close to the actors themselves by relaying their stories. I get both sides of this and it must have freaked Jared but bet at the same time with his generous heart after calming down would have had different feelings about that fan too. They are wanting to say thank you, that I got in a state wanting to end it, and you helped me through that nightmare.’ Now I’m NO medical expert, but fans can be gushing but this isn’t intentional. They are in the moment wanting to relay their recent trauma to the person that helped them through.

    AB/C – Lovely article and I can so imagine that Jared is a warm, friendly, approachable person and have heard this from so many fans alike. I so want to meet him one day! I bet it did shock fans, and annoyed some too, but can see the whole picture.

    B xxx

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  5. ” I believe that in some cases, telling a cast member that they “saved my life” is too heavy and could put too much of a burden on that person. I also feel that conventions should be a celebration and that a simple “thank you for AKF” or contributions to local affiliated charities that are present in the vendors area, go a long way to show the widespread appreciation fans have for the casts generosity and caring.”
    I agree. At NJ con we all had blue glowsticks and yelled out always keep fighting as a thank you nod to the boys and I feel that was enough. Remember people pay a lot of money to come to these cons and some don’t want to spend the time listening to these stories- I think Email, FB, Twitter, and letters are a better way to share with the boys-and it doesn’t affect them in the middle of a convention-especially Jared.

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