Actress Felicia Day has been a regular on shows like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," but for her most ardent fans, she made her mark in the world of Web series. She created "The Guild," which was one of the first big shows to launch online, and she also starred in Joss Whedon's hit Web series "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog." We talked with Felicia about her career and her new memoir, "You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)," and how she went from being a homeschooled weirdo to an adult weirdo.
"The core of my book is that in embracing your weirdnesses, the things that make you different from other people, you are putting forth your superpowers," Day said. "The things that make us outstanding, the things that maybe make us feel a little bit outside the mainstream — those are the things that we're going to be able to make an impact on the world with, and to feel a sense of meaning if we congregate around other people who accept us for who we are versus who they think we should be."
Day created "The Guild" after becoming addicted to "World of Warcraft," treating the game like a full-time job and shutting out the outside world. She eventually sought help and ended up going cold turkey from the game world, but she says she doesn't regret that part of her life.
"I really found my wings when I embraced all the things that made me different, and oddball. I have a degree in mathematics, I love video games and board games and comics, and the things that didn't allow me to become mainstream in fact led to this perfect career I get to wake up every day and do."
Alongside acting, she also runs the website and video channel Geek & Sundry. She started the company with help from YouTube, but wasn't happy with having to run the business side alongside the creative end of things. She writes in her book that she fell out of love with the Web series that made her famous and ultimately ended up working herself sick.
"I definitely had a hard time," Day said, saying that she also faced anxiety and depression during that period. "All the burdens that come with success, nobody ever tells you that you might have as many problems by being successful as being a failure. And if you are stressed, feeling anxious about your life, don't be afraid to put the brakes on and get a breath. Sometimes you're so in it you can't even tell what the burden is, why you're stressed. Is it your personal life, is it your professional life, is it the set of things you're expected to do, is it your frustration not doing the things you love? That's really what I wasn't brave enough to say no to."
YouTube decided not to keep funding her channel and about a hundred others that they'd invested in. While Day notes that the decision by YouTube led to her leaving that meeting and crying, she ended up selling her company to Legendary and stayed on in a creative role that has her excited to go to work.
Geek & Sundry, along with her strong online presence and the fanbase that she's built for her acting projects, has been built on her personality. However, Day said that she still keeps a part of herself walled off from the public.
"There are a lot of things that I don't share, because that's not relevant to really what I want to offer the world — which is a sense of creativity and joy of community."
She also tries not to fall into what the online community often demands of women.
"I cannot say that I don't do selfies, but I try to mix it up," Day said. "Epecially women I feel like there's pressure to do that, because that's what's reinforced online. You know, the number of 'hearts' you get is proportional to the amount of body you're showing, and I think there are other ways of being that I feel more comfortable with, personally."
As a woman who's also a gamer who's prominent online, she faced attacks from some angry male fans during the #Gamergate scandal, which she closes her book writing about.
"It sort of put a tarnish on what I love, which is gaming and gaming communities. I think gaming is a culture that started very small and has grown, and with mobile and other Internet, digital avenues being opened, I think a lot of different people from different backgrounds had a sudden influx and loved gaming. And I think there was an adjustment period of which some people were not happy with that," Day said. "What I see the potential for is that big gaming leaders have spoken out against it — publishers, creators — to say that this is not what gaming is about."
You can follow Day online in a myriad of places (check out her website FeliciaDay.com for more), and find out more of her story in her new book. Day is doing a free reading and signing at Skylight Books on Wednesday, Aug. 19.