If you ask Felicia Day's fans where she's from, they might simply say "the internet," and she might not disagree. Sure, you might see her on TV in shows like Supernatural, The Magicians and the new incarnation of Mystery Science Theater 3000, but she is best known as an early influencer in the world of internet video.
Before she was taking over YouTube with wonderfully geeky shows like The Guild, though, she was a talented homeschooled kid in Texas. Day lived in San Antonio before her father's military career took him to Fort Hood when she was 14 years old. At the age of 16, she was accepted to the University of Texas, so the family moved to Austin in order for her to go to school.
"I consider it my hometown," she says of the city where she spent her formative years. "I love it. I still have family there and I visit several times a year."
She's coming home to Texas for Fan Expo Dallas April 6-8, where she will be available for autographs, photo ops and a Q&A on Sunday. It won't be her first time at the event, though. She was a guest back in 2012, when it was still known as Dallas Comic Con. "It was a really great event," she says, "and from what I hear it's just exploded in growth, and it's a real sort of center for conventions in Texas and the southwest. So I'm really excited to go back and see how everything has grown.
"Every time I've been [to Dallas] it's been a pleasure. It really has an international feel to it, and it has so many things to offer. It feels like home when I go there, because I lived in Texas for so long."
You can't argue with the results of Day's non-traditional schooling, and it had enough of a positive impact on her that she's considering homeschooling her own daughter when the time comes. She notes, though, that just like another key to her success -- the internet -- homeschooling has both pros and cons.
"For me the internet was always a place that made me feel accepted for who I was, even though I was different and weird," Day says. "That was really important to me and part of what I do. But there is also the darker side of the internet where if you only isolate yourself to people who believe like you, your sense of truth and understanding of other people is lessened. ... I would love to homeschool [my daughter], but it's very important to me that she's exposed to all different kinds of people, all different viewpoints, so she can draw conclusions about the world herself."
The benefits of her education are clear, though. "Certainly homeschooling led me to embrace some things about myself that regular school might have made me abandon, like my love of nerdy things and the fact that I loved math as a girl. ... If there's something unique or weird about yourself, those are the things you should be cultivating, and that's what I would like to do as a parent, especially if I'm going to do homeschooling."
She may have thought of herself as a "weird homeschooled kid," but these days Day has been called "queen of geeks." She founded the popular YouTube channel Geek & Sundry, she was in Joss Whedon's internet hit Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and her memoir You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) landed on the New York Times bestsellers list. But she still looks back at the days when she and her friends were first making videos in her garage, taking donations via PayPal because Kickstarter was still many years away.
Attending conventions, for her, is all about meeting the fans that she normally only interacts with on the internet. "I love creating communities for fans, and conventions are the real-life manifestation of all that work I do online," she says. "I meet people every time I do a convention who inspire me, who make me want to do more work and make more things and create a better community for them."
The best feeling for Day, though, is encountering people who were inspired to create something of their own because of the work she has done. "That's what I really take the most inspiration from and am proudest of," she says, "is that I've inspired other people to create when they might not have."
Felicia Day will be at Fan Expo Dallas at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center April 6-8. Tickets are available at fanexpodallas.com, though autographs and photo ops are an additional fee.