Interview by Jason Setnyk | Submitted Image
Ottawa, Ontario – Brace yourselves, fandom enthusiasts! Prepare for the ultimate celebration of all things geeky and nostalgic as Fanaticcon 4 is gearing up to take Ottawa by storm. From vintage toys to comics, retro games, and jaw-dropping art, this fan convention promises an unforgettable experience for attendees of all ages. Held on August 13, 2023, at the Ottawa Conference and Event Centre, Fanaticcon 4 is set to be the region’s largest and most exciting fan convention.
Fanaticcon 4 is pulling out all the stops to bring fans face-to-face with some beloved icons of the entertainment world. Meet horror legend Ken Sagoes, known for his roles in “A Nightmare On Elm Street 3-4” and appearances on “Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Also, fans of comic book art will be thrilled to meet celebrity artist Kurt Lehner, renowned for his work with Marvel, DC, and Disney.
The event will also host the multi-talented Abby Hagyard, whose work on “You Can’t Do That On Television,” “CareBears,” “Teddy Ruxpin,” and “Dennis The Menace” has left an indelible mark on pop culture.
Abby Hagyard, a Canadian television actress, voice artist, and comedian, is not your typical performer. Her unique upbringing as an only child in a military family with creative and competitive genes has shaped her into a resilient and inclusive entertainer.
Born to gifted athlete parents, Abby’s upbringing was far from ordinary. Her mother’s artistic pursuits, studying with one of Canada’s Famous Group of Seven, instilled a sense of creativity in her from an early age. Meanwhile, her father’s 30-year career in the Canadian Air Force meant she grew up moving across countries, living in Canada, Europe, and the United States.
Being a “Military BRAT” – an acronym for British Regiment Attached Traveler – Abby was no stranger to frequent relocations and uprooting. The BRAT life, as she fondly calls it, meant repeatedly adapting to new environments and connecting with diverse people. This upbringing became her superpower – the ability to connect quickly and communicate meaningfully in new places, making her ideally suited for the uncertain life of an entertainer.
Abby explains that BRATs like her are gypsies held hostage to a challenging way of life and career – global before it was a trend. The frequent relocations with little warning taught her to be inclusive and a good listener, enabling her to translate her thoughts and ideas effectively by picking up local jargon.
Throughout her career, Abby Hagyard has left a lasting impression on audiences with her versatile voice work in animated adaptations of popular shows like The Care Bears, For Better or For Worse, The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin, and Dennis the Menace. She also gained fame with her appearances on Nickelodeon’s sketch comedy show, You Can’t Do That on Television, which became iconic for its green slime. As a celebrity guest at Fanaticcon in Ottawa, Abby looks forward to connecting with her fans.
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH THE SEEKER
1 – Can you tell us about your early experiences on Nickelodeon’s sketch comedy show, You Can’t Do That on Television? How did that opportunity shape your career and what was it like to be part of such a unique and iconic show during that time?
“The most interesting and exciting aspect of You Can’t Do That On Television – for all of us, really – was the short-form 30-second sketch format. It’s a unique way to work, on every level, because you’re creating snapshot moments that last 30 seconds or less. The writing is tight. The visuals become iconic. The actor interactions are sharp. And the “set-ups+punchlines+follow throughs” are fast, fluid and lean. The true genius, beyond the writing, was the way everyone was encouraged (and recognized) if/when they made a contribution of some kind that might have been outside their job description. This gave us a pride of ownership in the series’ success that is truly hard to find.”
2 – Your voice work on animated adaptations of popular shows like The Care Bears, For Better or For Worse, The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin, and Dennis the Menace has left a lasting impression on many audiences. How did you approach bringing these beloved characters to life? As an actress, voice artist, and comedian, you have a diverse range of talents. How do you balance and approach each of these roles in your career?
“Voice acting is an exercise in animating inanimate things – giving emotional weight and value to otherwise static words and phrases and visuals and lending attitudes, intentions and personalities to real or imagined creatures – qualities that we normally associate with people. Narrating documentaries, voicing training videos, adding the who/what/where/when voice-overs to commercials and breathing life into cartoon characters are very separate and distinct skills. What an actor brings to these jobs is an ability to connect and communicate unforgettably. At the heart of this ability is an innate understanding of our very real human need to feel that, no matter how different we might be on some level, where it matters most, we are “people like us,” and that makes us feel that we belong.”
3 – Winning two ACTRA Awards in 1983 for Best Female On-Camera Performance and Best Voice-Over/Narration must have been significant achievements in your career. Can you share your feelings and memories from that moment? Also, what are some of the challenges you faced as a woman in the entertainment industry, particularly when you were establishing yourself as a performer?
“In my experience, no one creates art to win contests, gain recognition or make money. We don’t do it to establish gender, social or cultural dominance, either. We create because it’s who we are. If we make the decision to commercialize what we do – in other words, to make a living or a statement in highly volatile circles and/or competitive industries – we must learn to juggle separate, incompatible goals without compromising them. [Profound, Poignant and Profitable are very seldom found on the same page.] Very few people do this successfully. An essential asset is a team that manages the many gotta-do’s. When the team gets it right, the win may have our name on it, but it doesn’t belong to us. My “winning” moments were the same. Every challenge overcome, every goal reached that set me apart in some way, was the culmination of many hearts, minds and hands leaning in. Showing up at the Award Ceremony in your best bling is always fun. But it is those countless selfless, priceless shared gifts that make me forever grateful. And to me, that’s everything.”
4 – You are a celebrity guest at Fanaticcon in Ottawa. How do you feel about connecting with your fans at events like this, and what do you enjoy most about interacting with your supporters? Also, what do you look forward to the most at conventions and fan events, and what can attendees expect from your presence there?
“Artists who interact with their audiences get to celebrate the unique Fame-and-Fandom relationship in crowd settings, with coveted VIP opportunities to meet one-on-one. It’s exciting on many levels because it offers the possibility of unscripted moments that feel uniquely personal. I have experienced this in my live performances and shows – and that’s why I bring the unscripted one-on-one element to my booths at events like FanaticCon – because I am primarily a live performer who ALSO writes, produces and publishes and works in TV, radio and film. My goal is to bring my fans into my world and give them the starring role – their taste of Fame – for time we spend together because it is truly unforgettable… and that’s the whole point, really.”
5 – Are there any new projects or roles you’re currently working on that you can share with your fans?
“I am currently polishing and rehearsing a new one-woman show I’ve written, with a soft launch planned later this year. Its format will remind Lily Tomlin fans of her Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe that became a Broadway hit in the mid-1980’s. The character sketch format gives me a chance to dance back and forth between wit, wisdom and wonder and showcase many of my favourite voices and characters and I’m really excited to see what the fans think. The give-back component on this project is my support for the agencies that train service dogs who support our everyday heroes afflicted with PTSD and CTSD (Post- and Chronic Traumatic Stress).”
MORE ABOUT FANATICCON:
With over 88 exhibitor spaces showcasing a vast array of comics, toys, games, and collectibles, attendees will be spoiled for choice. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just starting your journey into the world of fandom, there will be treasures aplenty waiting to be discovered.
For those seeking a more immersive experience, the convention will feature a VR Adventures Zone, offering thrilling virtual reality experiences for fans to enjoy. And the best part? It’s absolutely free, but be sure to take advantage of the limited play sessions!
Cosplayers will find themselves in paradise at Fanaticcon 4, with the opportunity to showcase their creativity and talent. The event will feature esteemed cosplayers Gee_TheGhost and Rentai Cosplay, whose incredible costumes and attention to detail have won the hearts of fans worldwide. Don’t miss the 2023 Fanaticcon Ottawa Cosplay Championship, where cosplayers will compete for glory and fantastic prizes on the main stage at 2 pm.
Fanaticcon 4 is a family-friendly event, and children under 12 can enter for free. The first 100 kids will even receive a special loot bag, so families are encouraged to arrive early to secure this delightful treat. Order your tickets for the August 13 event online here.