Whedoncon: Women of the Whedonverse

Strong female characters have always have been part of  Joss Whedon’s TV shows. Whether they appeared for a couple of episodes or through the series, they made their mark.

Over the weekend, Whedoncon had a panel featuring four women who are well known to fans: Mercedes McNabb, who played Harmony on Buffy and Angel, Miracle Laurie, who was the Doll Mellie on Dollhouse, Julia Lee, whose character had her own interesting history on Buffy and Angel, and Dagney Kerr, who was Buffy’s demonic college roommate Kathy during season four of that series.

 

McNabb got on the show when she auditioned for Buffy. She wound up being Harmony, one of Cordelia’s posse. McNabb says she wanted to make sure her character stood out, kind of like Lacey Chabert’s character in Mean Girls. She often talked about some of the tongue twisters she had to say, and also say Harm’s nickname for Spike, “Blondie Bear”, just right. Filming scenes was also tough. “The scenes were taking place in the same spot so they were having us do three scenes but shot with the same angles. It was so confusing,” she chuckled.
She also hoped she wasn’t too much like Harmony, with some of the mean things her character said. She really appreciated all the love she gets from the fans, and that she continued on both shows. She was surprised that after her character was bitten by a vampire in the third season finale, she was back as a vampire and her character got better.
She also recalls her famous hand-slap fight with Xander, and that she didn’t know they filmed it in slow-motion. She also recalled a a very physical scene she did with James Marsters, when Harm had just turned into a vampire. “It brought me back to me being on stage because we were so in the moment together and it seemed so real.” She  wishes she played Fred/Illyria mainly because how well Amy Acker played both roles.
These days, McNabb is a mom with two small children, and hasn’t talked about getting back into acting…at least not now. She was very popular with the fans when she had her autograph sessions and another panel featuring the villains in the Whedonverse.

For someone who was only in the first two episodes of season four of Buffy, Dagney Kerr had a lot of stories to tell.
She played Kathy, Buffy’s demonic roommate who was way too interested in ironing jeans, her rug and Cher. She recalled how she auditioned for the part, and how she got to know Kathy. “Marti Noxon wrote my episode,” she says. “She is such a great writer. It was very clear who the character was just the way the words she used.”
Even though Kathy got under control, Dagney felt for her. “I sympathized with her need to belong,” she says. “She didn’t know she was annoying. She just wanted to share and make a friend.” As fans know, Kathy was actually a demon who just wanted to move away from her family, even if it was from Hell. Dagney also admits she’s a bit like Kathy, especially when it comes to fixing her rug. She also talked about how she tried to hit Buffy in one scene and had a tough time making it believable. She also admits she never watched Buffy, not before or after her role. She explained that she would have been too busy looking at where the scene was shot.
These says, Dagney has written and produced plays around the country and even won an award. She also hopes to develop a new TV show in the near future.
By the way, at her Facebook page, she shows an egg a fan gave her at the con. Of course, it’s named Kathy.

Julia Lee has an interesting history in the Whedonverse. When she first appeared in “Lie to Me” in season two, she was a hippie girl named Chanterelle who wanted to be a vampire. A year later, she was a girl named Lily who helped Buffy realize she can’t run away from her identity as the Slayer. Eventually, she’d appear on Angel as a girl named Anne who decide to help others.
All these women were the same person, and Julia recalls how unique her character’s arc was over the years. “She’s kind of turned whatever pain and trauma  that she went through into a passion for helping people that were in that situation,” she says. She points out than even the way her character acted and talked over the years even changed. She also recalled how she not only had to remember her lines in a “walk and talk” scene, but the physical gestures during that scene.
These days, Lee and her husband hope to produce a show on HGTV in the near future

When Miracle Laurie first appeared in the Whedonverse, she was a British Potential late in Buffy’s final season. She almost got the role of Kaylee on Firefly, but soon wound up as Mellie/November, one of the Dolls in Dollhouse.
“She was very similar to a very specific part of me that already existed,” she said. “It was like diving 100% into that and surrendering to the vunerable and the geeky and smitten in love with people you shouldn’t be in love with.”
She also recalled she had a friend who was a fan of Battlestar Galactica and was envious that Miracle acted with Tahmoh Penikett, who had played Helo.
These days, she has a production company called Good Fat Productions (it’s logo is a dancing avocado), and hopes to bring a new super hero called Insane Jane to TV. She also has Uke Box Heroes with her husband Christopher May. They were very popular when they had a small concert on the last day of the con.

As for which characters Julia and Miracle wished they’d be, Julia chose Drusilla because she nearly suspected the producers would make her evil…but didn’t. As for Miracle, she said Xander because she really connected with him. “So fun, so funny, so sweet,” she said, “had such a cool arc.”

While Buffy, Faith, River and Zoe may have been the major female stars in the Whedonverse, Miracle, Julia, Mercedes and Dagney also made their marks, too.

Facebook Comments

Post Author: David Mello

Worked nearly eleven years at a radio station as a board operator, news reader, and assistant producer for baseball broadcasts. Have been a staff writer for Whedonopolis since July 2008