Hey, hey everyone! I’m glad to be back again with another episode of the “Spark of Hope Podcast!” On this episode, I interviewed my very good friend and fellow prequel lover, Britt! We chat about Star Wars (of course), our love of tea, our Star Wars Celebration adventures, and mental health. Britt is an avid film buff and photography student up in Canada! We first met virtually in 2015 and got to meet in person at Star Wars Celebration Orlando. She has been an amazing and supportive friend throughout the years and I’m so glad Twitter brought us together! I hope you enjoy our episode!
WHOA, when did 2021 arrive? Over 2 months ago?? I’m a bit in shock that we’re in March already! But a new year means a new episode (finally)!
On this episode, I interview a new “virtual” friend of mine, David Ian Lee! We connected in January because our mutual friend Rachel (who you’ll remember from my last episode) put together a Zoom reading of the sequel trilogy. It was a fantastic time and it led to David being on this episode, which I’m incredibly thankful for. We had an amazing chat about David’s life and how Star Wars impacted him throughout the years through theatre, teaching, and so much more! I learned so much from David and I hope you do too. Check out his bio and pictures below!
Thank you for listening and as always, I hope you enjoy this episode!
**Here are some of my favorite David quotes from this episode which I found incredibly inspiring:
~”So often we’re focused on pursuing the things that we want and this is the year for being grateful for the things that we have.”
~”There’s something to be taught about community and sacrifice and service and that we each have a responsibility to carry the torch when that is our time.”
~”But it was this moment of this thing brings me absolute joy. In a world that really wants you to feel as little joy as possible it seems, why deprive yourself of the things that bring you joy.”
~”In our time of crisis, Grogu will set us free.”
David Ian Lee is a freelance actor and director who has worked in New York for companies including The Pearl, Manhattan Theatre Source, Boomerang, and Flux Ensemble, for regional theatres including Actors Theatre of Louisville, Milwaukee Rep., and Nashville’s Pipeline-Collective (where he serves as a Producing Artistic Director), and classical companies including New York Classical, Arkansas Shakespeare, Illinois Shakespeare, and Utah Shakespeare. He is an internationally produced playwright, with productions of his work in Canada, South Africa, Scotland, and Greece.
A graduate of the William Esper Studio, David received his MFA in Directing from Illinois State University. He serves on the faculty of the Theatre & Dance Program in the Department of Communications at Tennessee State University, one of several institutions where he has offered his master lecture “Theatre, Criticism, and Star Wars”; he has also offered this content as a semester-long special topics course at universities and as a weeks-long enrichment course for gifted young learners.
In 2019 he was proud to direct a benefit production of A Very Special Live Staged Reading of the Star Wars Holiday Special: Live, on Stage… and Special!with all proceeds going to the 501st Legion Make-a-Wish Endowment Fund.
After a little haitus… Spark of Hope Podcast is back!! On Episode 9, I chat with my friend Rachel. We know each other through our local community theatre, but we also connected through our love to Star Wars! During this episode we chat about theatre, Star Wars, and most importantly, VOTING!
Thank you for listening and as always, I hope you enjoy this episode!
You can find Rachel on social media through the links below:
Hello, again! Episode 8 has arrived! In this episode, I got to chat with my friend of 20 years, Steve. We met at community college when we took music theory together and have enjoyed seeing Star Wars together since “The Force Awakens” came out in 2015. We talk about some of the hardships he’s faced in life, his struggle with depression, and how he grew up with Star Wars.
Click below and enjoy!
Hello, everyone! Welcome to the 7th Episode of the Spark of Hope Podcast. In this episode, I sent a call for help! As the last movie of the sequel trilogy and the end of 2019 arrives, I wanted to do a collaboration with other Star Wars fans to express how we are thankful for Star Wars!
A huge shout out to Sandra, Kay, Eve, Andrew, Barb, Steve, Vani, Ally, Carl, Jessie, and Rachel for participating in this episode!
I’m back! I know it’s been a while, but sometimes life just gets in the way. I wanted to take a moment to actually talk about the biggest challenge I’ve gone through in my life, being diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago. So here’s a solo episode about my journey and of course there is talk of STar Wars!
P.S. The outro music is a special version of my theme music…
Click below and enjoy!
“I will not condone a course of action that will lead us to war.” – Queen Amidala, Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace
On May 19, 1999, Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace ignited the “spark of fandom” in me! I had just graduated high school and was about to turn 18, so the movie came at a huge turning point in my life. Despite having very minimal access to the internet, I could feel the massive amount of energy and excitement surrounding the release of “The Phantom Menace.” It had been 16 YEARS since “Return of the Jedi.” I remember sitting in my hometown movie theatre, the excitement radiating from me, and watching as “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” displayed on the screen. I loved every second of it! And I still do today. So to celebrate 20 years of one of my favorite Star Wars movies, here is my Top 5 list of things I love the most.
Padmé Amidala: Padmé is who I connect to the most in “The Phantom Menace.” She is strong, wise, compassionate, and honorable. Padmé didn’t have to be a Jedi to be able to fight for what she believes in and what is right. She never once backed down and even if she doubted herself, she knew she had to keep moving forward. I am so thankful for this character that was created.
**And, let’s be honest, she also had the most amazing wardrobe! Each gown was truly a masterpiece!
Duel of the Fates – Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan vs. Darth Maul: The music in Star Wars is brilliant. How John Williams can take these epic moments and make them so much grander is what makes him a master of music! And I think it especially shows during the epic battle scene between Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan and Darth Maul. It makes me feel on edge in the best of ways. I remember feeling like I had no idea how that fight was going to end and even to this day, even though I know now, I still get that “OMG WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN” feeling. The way that scene is cut with the music and the other action sequences going on is truly amazing.
Darth Maul: Darth Maul is one of the coolest looking characters. He just exudes evil and confidence, qualities all Sith Lords must have! This was the first time we really got to see a bad guy move in a more dynamic way, and he had a DOUBLE-BLADED LIGHTSABER! I was (still am) disappointment in his “demise” in the “The Phantom Menace.” However, I am glad he was revived, so to speak, in “The Clone Wars” and has been showing up in other things from time to time. I truly hope we get to see more of his time in between “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels.”
The Jedi: “The Phantom Menace” gave us SO MUCH information about the Jedi during this time. We are introduced to the Jedi Council, we get to see how Yoda is doing pre-Dagobah, we get FEMALE JEDI, and we get a sense of what is great and not so great about the order.
The Merchandise: Admittedly, I’m not a big merchandise person. My biggest collections consist of books, but I was REALLY into it during “The Phantom Menace.” I especially wanted to get all the Queen Amidala merchandise I could get my hands on! So my bedroom was covered in “The Phantom Menace” stuff. I also was a frequent guest at Pizza Hut and Taco Bell (we didn’t have a KFC) so I could get the toys and those disc things where you could win other prizes. I even tried collecting all of the Pepsi cans with the characters but I sadly got rid of those a long time ago.
Naboo: If I could choose to live on a planet in the Star Wars Universe, it would definitely be Naboo! It is gloriously beautiful. I would love to revisit it again in a movie or animated series just so I could bask upon its beauty!
Jar Jar Binks: To me, Jar Jar is just fun! He may seem goofy and naive, but I never felt annoyed by him. He is a character that was just trying to find his place in the galaxy. He took many missteps along the way, and I connected to that. I had no idea the reaction everyone had to Jar Jar until many years later. I feel like the general reaction has gotten better and I really hope that keeps improving.
The Queen’s Handmaidens: Quiet and unassuming, you wouldn’t think much of this small group of girls. However, looks can clearly be deceiving! Like Padmé, they are smart, strong, and loyal. Their legacy lives on in the fandom, and I think it will for many years to come.
HAPPY 20th ANNIVERSARY, “THE PHANTOM MENACE!”
One of the great things about Star Wars is that we get to experience it in many different formats: movies, TV shows, comics, music, and books. It provides the galaxy far, far away with the ability to expand on what a two and a half hour movie doesn’t have the time to show.
When The Phantom Menace debuted in 1999, I was in high school and a very new Star Wars fan. I’d just seen the Original Trilogy for the first time two years earlier and having a new movie so soon was such a huge deal for me. Not only was it expanding on the saga, but it was giving us new characters and worlds and droids and ships. The moment Queen Amidala graced the screen, she became my new favorite character next to Han and Leia. I had to buy the version of the novelization with her on the cover!
Now here we are twenty years later and Queen’s Shadow, written by E.K. Johnston, is the book many of us have been waiting for all these years! It primarily follows Padmé as she gets her footing as a new Senator in the Galactic Republic but also follows Sabé as she finds her own footing in the galaxy.
At the beginning, we find that Padmé has finished her two terms as Queen. She and her handmaidens now have to move on to the next step of their lives. I thought it was really beautiful how Johnston expressed the close relationships between Padmé and her handmaidens. While they were excited to move on to new things, there was sadness that this part of their lives was ending.
We didn’t truly get a sense of who each handmaiden was in The Phantom Menace, but the author makes a point to make sure the reader understands that Sabé, Rabé, Eirtaé, Saché, and Yané are each their own unique person. I really enjoyed getting to know each of them , but it took me a little time to properly associate their characteristics. So I was slightly disappointed that when I finally had that information correct in my mind, and new handmaidens were introduced while the others were then in the background. Ultimately, it had to happen for the story to continue, and I was happy to see that the original handmaidens showed up later in the book.
At times information seemed to come up abruptly. For example, we suddenly learn that Saché was up for election into the planetary legislation assembly right as we find out she actually was elected. In another instance, we find out that Padmé had met Senator Clovis prior to his first appearance in the book, but we do not read about it. Often, this made me feel like I had missed something and sometimes that was disconcerting.
What I really liked about Queen’s Shadow was that it truly is an introspective look at a time in Padmé’s life when everything is changing and the stakes are incredibly high. We see exactly how she navigates the galaxy both as Padmé and Senator Amidala. From what she wears to how her makeup is applied to how her hair is styled, Amidala is like an armor for her, literally and figuratively.
We also see what Sabé is up to and how important she is to Padmé and to her legacy. Their friendship is so beautiful. The author was able to show how two women can have a friendship incredibly deep and loving while still being strong and independent people. It actually makes Padmé’s eventual death that more heartbreaking.
Even though Queen’s Shadow mostly follows Padmé and Sabé, some amazing new characters are introduced, like Captain Panaka! No, not THAT Captain Panaka. His wife, Mariek Panaka! We also meet Captain Tonra, who spends most of his time with Sabé. We are also reintroduced to some familiar faces. Bail Organa makes a strong appearance and of course Chancellor Palpatine shows up from time to time, like a looming shadow. There are also a plethora of Clone Wars era characters that make an appearance. Bringing characters that we know or kind of know from other medias within Star Wars Universe is one of my favorite things to see.
Overall I enjoyed the story line. There were some twists and turns I wasn’t expecting. Padmé came across as a very strong, independent young woman who wholeheartedly stuck to her convictions. She was not afraid to stand up for herself and others while still being able to play the game of politics. She continuously learned from her errors and grew from her weaknesses. But my biggest take away from Queen’s Shadow is the value of friendship and love, which to me, is the heart of Star Wars.
Queen’s Shadow is now available everywhere books are sold!
It’s a blog! I’d like to introduce my first guest blogger, Jim Capron! In this blog, Jim talks about dealing with an incredibly difficult health issue, Lyme Disease, and how Jyn Erso was the character that gave him hope during one of the most challenging times of his life.
I’m 29 years old, I’ve lived in Cleveland, Ohio my whole life, I’m a Certified Public Accountant at Cleveland Clinic, and it probably goes without saying that I’m a huge Star Wars fan!
Without getting into too much detail, in 2017 my health gradually and very unexpectedly started to decline. It took the doctors awhile to figure out what was going on, but by late 2017, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease, which is known as being a very challenging condition to treat.
Throughout all of 2018, I went through several different treatments, but didn’t seem to have any luck with anything at the time. That condition took complete control over my life for well over a year and I struggled with it more than anything in my entire life. Everyday I felt like I was drowning, just trying to survive and keep my head above water.
Luckily, with the right treatment changes, in early 2019, I started to gain a lot more traction with putting this condition into remission. While I still have a couple lingering side effects that should pass with time, most days I’m 90% my normal self, which is more than I could hope for, considering how much I struggled with it.
I was seven when the original trilogy special editions came out and I’ve been a huge Star Wars fan ever since. While there are so many aspects of Star Wars that I love, my favorite character is, without question, Jyn Erso because of how much I found myself relating to her emotionally and how important her story of hope and perseverance became to me when I was really sick.
Jyn’s story captivated me from the start because, at the beginning of Rogue One, she’s completely hopeless, apathetic, beat down, and exhausted, and she wants to give up on herself. And those were all emotions I struggled with for well over a year when my health was at its worst.
There are so many Jyn moments that I identify with, but one in particular is when she’s talking to Saw about the Empire and the Rebellion and she says “All it’s ever brought me is pain.” I empathized with her so much in that moment because I also had a burden that took complete control over my life and caused me so much pain and frustration. And like Jyn, for over a year, no matter how hard I fought, it always beat me at the end of every day.
Jyn’s story also really resonated with me though because of how she was able to go from that to moving on from her past, forgiving Saw, her father, and the Rebellion, restoring her hope in herself, and ultimately pushing through and achieving the impossible. While I certainly had a lot of support throughout this experience with my family, friends, co-workers, doctors, and the online Star Wars community, Jyn’s story gave me an immense amount of hope and mental strength to push through that tough time.
I remember watching the “World Between Worlds” episode in Rebels Season 4 when it first aired, and when Jyn said “the time to fight is now,” it really hit me hard emotionally because of how important that one, simple line became to me during that struggle. I think that’ll always be my favorite line in all of Star Was because of how it got me through so many challenging days when I wanted to give up.
As I mentioned previously, there are so many Jyn moments that resonate with me, but one that always sticks out is when she’s on top of the citadel tower on Scarif getting ready to transmit the Death Star plans. She’s bruised and covered in blood, dirt, sweat, and tears, but she’s still limping to the transmission console, giving every ounce of energy that she has to that mission, and nothing in the galaxy is going to stop her from accomplishing her goals. That visual representation of mental and physical perseverance was so real to me and something that resonated with me in a way I can’t even describe.
I could go on and on, but you can probably tell by now that Jyn Erso’s story means absolutely everything to me. I certainly realize that Star Wars is a fictional universe and the characters don’t actually exist, but I don’t think I’d be where I’m at today without Jyn’s story.And while there are so many Star Wars characters that I love, I think Jyn will always be my favorite because of how much I’ve identified with her and how important her hope and perseverance has been to me throughout this part of my life. She’ll always be the definition of a true hero to me.
I’d like to thank Jim so much for sharing his incredible story!
You can find Jim on Twitter @jimccapron!
Episode 5 is live! And Eve is striking back! In this episode we chat about every day struggles. Lately, I have personally been dealing with a lot of fatigue, not feeling motivated, and working on my relationship with food. Eve and I dig deep into these issues and how we deal with them. Plus, we chat about the upcoming Star Wars Celebration in Chicago and positive opinions about three Star Wars topics!
Click below and enjoy!
Here is a little bit more information about Eve:
“Eve, the co-host whose name isn’t really Eve, loves long twitter threads, silly memes and inside jokes. The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader are her absolute favorites. When she’s not geeking out on the internet, Eve writes and takes photographs professionally in a cozy Pennsylvanian suburb.”
You can find Eve on Twitter @skywalker_eve. You can listen to her on the Unmistakably Star Wars Podcast. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @UnmistakablySW! She also has started her own podcast! Follow the Iron Sea Podcast @ironseacast on Twitter.
Theme song arranged and performed by Megan Cullinan (that’s me!) and mixed by Steve Resler. Original music composed by John Williams.