In the first of a new series of interviews focusing on the Once Upon A Time fandom, Once Upon A Fan caught up with Ugly Duckling founders Erin and Marie to learn more about their passion for the show and how the Ugly Ducklings came to be.
How did you first hear about Once?
Marie: I first heard about Once Upon a Time through a TV ad that the channel that airs the show in Latin America had on. The same day after I met Jennifer Morrison at the airport in Buenos Aires (Argentina), I looked for the times when they were airing it. I felt the urge to watch her new project and instantly fell in love with OUAT.
Erin: I saw the trailer featuring the song "Rescue Me" by Kerrie Roberts and immediately fell in love with the song and the idea of the show. The time slot was actually horrible for me because I played soccer every Sunday night - but the trailer was so captivating, I had to give the show a shot. Instant adoration.
Share your first impressions of the show.
Marie: I clearly remember the first scene I watched: when Regina carried a basket full of apples to give to Emma at Granny's inn. That scene captivated me because of the clash of these two powerful characters. I hadn't watched any of Adam and Eddy's work before so the way they told the story blew my mind.
Erin: I loved that it dealt with adoption from a non-traditional standpoint (something the trailer never even touched on) - that's something that hits my family very close to home. And I loved how beautiful and damaged and powerful all the characters were. It didn't hurt that the women were totally bada** too (Snow White wielding a sword? What?)
How has OUAT inspired you personally?
Marie: Although I had already made the decision to move to Argentina to pursue new projects and adventures, Once Upon a Time was the extra kick that helped me believe I had made the right choice. Once inspired me to keep working hard for what I wanted, and I am on my way to start working as a voice actress for TV.
Erin: There's definitely a tone of "everybody's got a story" to the show - remembering that people are the way they are for a reason. I think that is important for anyone to remember; people's backstories don't excuse their behaviour, but it might give you a new perspective. I always try to give people grace and mercy - and the show has inspired me to continue doing this. I also love the saying "all magic comes with a price" - taking the magic out of that is still a life lesson for our non-magical world - every choice you make will have a consequence, whether it is good or bad, you have to consider that when you're looking at what's next.
Have you met new friends through the fandom?
Marie: It's been magical how this show has gave me the chance to meet so many people. The greatest thing was that after meeting a lot of Oncers online, some of us got the opportunity to meet and hang out at EnchantaCon in Florida, in November 2013. It was incredible to have been able to talk non stop for 3 days about our favorite show.
And also, it was thanks to the show that I met my amazing friend, and co-founder of Ugly Ducklings Inc, Erin. The movement and the community couldn't be where it is right now if it weren't for her amazing work.
Erin: Meeting Marie has obviously been amazing. She is one of my best friends! I say she is the Adam (Horowitz) to my Eddy (Kitsiss). I think we make a great team. I've also had the opportunity to meet some amazing Ugly Ducklings through our movement and get involved in the Wonderland Podcast (wonderlandpodcast.com) through Once Upon a Time. All great opportunities with great people!
What inspired the Ugly Ducklings group?
Marie: Ugly Ducklings Inc was born a few weeks after Jennifer Morrison decided that the Emma Swan fans should be called The Ugly Ducklings. I was waiting for her to tell us in order to start working on the logo that might represent us. After some thinking and designing, I came up with the logo that we then printed on t-shirts, and sent one to Jennifer. We haven't heard back from her in that respect.
After we came up with this, we decided to move on into creating a website, that could become a place where people could feel like they belong, a place where they felt empowered, and comfortable with their true self, without prejudices or misjudgements.
Erin: It was really important to me that the Ugly Ducklings be about more than just Once Upon a Time, because life is about more than just Once Upon a Time and life is really hard for some people; everyone goes through stuff and it is always easier when you have a friend and an understanding of your identity. I'm really glad we've also gotten a chance to get involved with a non-profit, as Ugly Ducklings, called Mental Fitness Inc (formerly NORMAL in Schools) - this organization is incredible and their founder/CEO has been so inspiring to us as well. (normal-life.org)
Can you tell us a bit more about some of the achievements of the group?
Marie: The growth of the movement and the support we've gotten has been enormous. So far, we've posted more than 30 Ugly Duckling Stories, where men and women have been able to express the struggles they've been through and how they have overcome obstacles.
We have conducted interviews with several great people: life coach Vasavi Kumar, and the CEO of the non-profit that we are supporting with a portion of our proceeds: Robyn Hussa, from Mental Fitness Inc.
And we had an online charity event. We offered two prize packs: one with Josh Dallas' autographed photo, plus a set of stickers, shirts, and other goodies for one winner. The other pack included Jennifer Morrison's autographed photo that she sent to us, plus an Ugly Ducklings t-shirt and other goodies.
Thanks to this, we got to donate $600 to Mental Fitness Inc.
Erin: I'm personally really proud of our Ugly Duckling Stories and the community of support the movement has created. It has been amazing to hear these inspiring and sometimes gut-wrenching stories of what people go through - but equally amazing to see the others in the community jump in offering love, kindness, advice and support.
How did it feel to be recognised by Jennifer Morrison for the group's work?
Marie: We felt truly honored, and a great responsibility to continue doing, and spreading kindness. That's been her message for quite a while now, to be good to each other, and we just wanted to build a road in that direction.
Erin: Jennifer Morrison's recognition and interaction with us has really been a huge blessing. Every time she acknowledges us, so many more people learn about The Ugly Ducklings for the first time. It's fantastic.
Who is your favourite character on the show?
Marie: That's easy: Emma Swan, with Regina coming in a close second.
Erin: Emma is my number one, but I sometimes call myself "The Fairest Ugly Duckling" because I just adore Snow (And Ginnifer Goodwin) so much too.
Marie: Lost Girl was inspiring.
Erin: Queen of Hearts ("Love is Strength") and Manhattan.
Hopes for the next part of the season/Season 4
Marie: It's shocking every time Adam and Eddy let us know what's to come. I think that Oz is going to be a great addition, but mostly I hope that the creators decide to expand on Emma and Neal's relationship
Erin: Any time they want to bring Jamie Dornan (Graham/Huntsman) back for a cameo, I'm 100% on board. I'd love to see a Wonderland crossover of some sort... and I'm a sucker for any kind of HAPPY family bonding between Emma and her parents.
Who do you think will die?
Marie: To my dismay, I think it will be Captain Hook.
Erin: If it is one of the top billed, I'm going with Captain Hook as well. I'm as spoiler-free as anyone with a twitter account can be - so I really have no idea.
What do you love about the show most?
Marie: The incredible opportunities that the actors have to see how their characters get great developments and stories. I also love their incredible and seamless mixture of lands and fairy tale stories that we all love.
Erin: Great characters, strong females, and writing that always keeps us on our toes. And I love Jane Espenson's wit.
Sum up the fandom in 3 words?
Marie: Passionate, Dreamers, Faithful
Erin: Committed, powerful, loyal
Many thanks to Marie and Erin for sharing their experiences of the fandom with us. FInd out more about the Ugly Ducklings at http://uglyducklingsinc.com