Saturday, June 1, 2019

Lana Parrilla Instills Magic and Hope at MegaCon Orlando

Photographer: Amber Valois
In 2011, Once Upon A Time premiered on ABC and introduced a new land where fairytale characters discovered that they were cursed to live in a real small-town called Storybooke. By reinventing characters like Snow White and Prince Charming as well as Rumplestiltskin and Belle from Beauty and the Beast, the well-known fictional worlds we used to know in Disney animated films and classic childhood stories were given a new twist. From the beginning one of the most popular characters and performances to emerge was Lana Parrilla as the Evil Queen / Regina Mills. As someone who was devoted ONCEr who loved the things she learned about herself from the series, it was a real treat to finally see the queen in person at Lana's panel.

Let me say, the love and admiration for her vulnerable, strong, and determined character and for the actress was palpable. One of the special elements of Once Upon A Time was how fans united (and sometimes divided) over their favorite characters, ships, and storylines. Support of Lana as a performer and her character was sparked from the beginning when fans gave Lana a standing ovation as she first appeared on stage. There's nothing quite like being in a presence of a queen.

As hardcore of a fan I was for Once Upon A Time, I was always eternally grateful for the lessons that I learned - some that Lana said she learned about herself from playing The Evil Queen such as fighting to be moving forward in life, finding self-acceptance, and continuing to learn on her own journey of personal growth.

While the show taught its fans about themselves and the world around them through adventures of good and evil, we also learned a lot by the actress in her panel and her own journey on the show. In talking about the long-awaited musical episode, in which all of the main characters had ballads of their own to perform, music became a big topic in the panel. "The Song In Your Heart" was a huge production to create because she had to learn how to sing and making sure the song fit Regina's own style. However, the results of seeing Regina rock it out always has the fans enthusiastically encouraging her to make her own album.

From the transformations she often had to make by being in the hair and make-up chair for up to four hours to dealing with harsh sets like the Neverland soundstage, the development of Regina as a character was an on-going process. Even though fans fell in love with her from the beginning, Lana recalled that building Regina's identity took a long time. The character felt entirely new to her in the first season, and by the second season she started grasping who she was but felt by the third season she fully embodied the differences and similarities between The Evil Queen in the Enchanted Forest and Regina Mills in Storybooke.

Like most actors who find it difficult to leave a character behind, Parrilla said that Regina took over in her real life like in her closest, where she'll find pieces of clothing that will entirely reflect who Regina is more than herself. As well, physically playing Regina required Lana a lot of adjustment, especially for The Evil Queen's body mannerisms. Because Regina and The Evil Queen were often in an emotional state of anger, Lana often found herself tensing up in her arms and would grow stiff in her back and shoulders.

After playing her for several years, separating from a character is not as easy as anyone might think it is but it's still fun to celebrate her character. One of the most significant memories Lana has of playing Regina was going to a children's hospital for Halloween dressed as the Evil Queen. While a lot of fans got a kick out of seeing her in person, she had a hard time giving away the apples that she brought with her.

It's hard to believe it was only a year ago that the series ended, and yet in a world of viral shows that grab our attention for fifteen minutes, Once Upon A Time still manages to capture its fans' hearts because of one of its most popular characters and cast mates. The most amazing aspect about fandom even though it might not air new episodes every week, new and veteran fans can still discover it through streaming services or dvds. When asked about how much the show has had an impact on her, Parrilla shared that she always feels like she is learning about how much Regina influenced fans when she attends conventions. MegaCon Orlando was no exception, where just before the panel a fan revealed to her that because of the strength and determination Lana portrayed in Regina, she is a suicidal survivor. Fandom and characters quite literally have the power to change lives. We all felt a little magic and hope with Lana at MegaCon Orlando.

No comments:

Post a Comment