At its heart, Geek Bomb is fundamentally about celebrating, inspiring, and getting to know women in geek. Founded by our Boss Bomb Maude Garrett and featuring a Bomb Squad filled with diverse, talented, and totally badass ladies, Geek Bomb has a mindset much like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Females are strong as hell. And it’s about time we start celebrating that again. So, we’ve decided to relaunch Women in Geek, our interview series that spotlights, shows off, and talks about the wonderful ladies who are leading the geek entertainment field.
Joining us this week is Jenna Busch, a genuine Jill of all trades who has seemingly done it all. From working as a makeup artist to establishing herself as a prolific entertainment journalist and web series host (and never forgetting her geek roots along the way), Jenna embodies what being a woman in geek truly means. We had the amazing opportunity to have a little digital chat with Jenna about her nerdiness, her professional trajectory, her favourite females in fiction, and the advice she’d give to young girls hoping to break into entertainment.
Geek Bomb: First off, when did you realize that you were, in essence, a geek? What geeky things are you up to now?
Jenna Busch: I’ve been a geek all my life. I started playing video games way back in the days of Atari. My friends would play a bit, but I’d go back down to the basement and continue until I was really good. By college, I would go to our favorite bar early so I could watch the Mortal Kombat save screen scroll so I could get backstories on the characters. I played Wonder Woman and Star Wars in my backyard. I wanted to be Storm from X-Men so I could have a snow day. She could control the weather, you know. I’d say I’ve been geeky from the beginning.
Now… oh dear. So much. I just interviewed Stan Lee (who I used to co-host a show with) to do the foreword for a new book I’m contributing to. I co-write chapters and do interviews for the PsychGeeks series of books. We’ve got Star Wars Psychology, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Wonder Woman, Supernatural, and Captain America vs. Iron Man Psychology (which Stan did the intro for as well). I write, interview celebrities, and cover film, TV, comics, and video games for ComingSoon.net, Birth.Movies.Death., and more. I also started my own website called Legion of Leia, where we cover all of these things, with a feminist slant. I’m currently shooting a new show called Super Dork House. Also, I constantly have to steal my Porg back from my cat.
GB: Let’s get our foot in the door by asking how you got your foot in the door. What’s your industry origin story – how did you get started? What advice can you give to those looking to break into your industry?
JB: I had sort of an odd introduction to the industry. I was an actress years ago (in NY) and then I became the Global Makeup Artist for Too Faced cosmetics. About that time, a friend from high school, Chris Radtke, called me and asked if I could interview Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman for his website UGO. No one says no to that. I started writing for them, hosting and doing videos and more. I was the only girl covering geek at the time, so it was interesting to say the least.
I had to learn so much on the job. I think it’s easier to be prepared these days. First of all, learn everything you can about writing. Learn to type like the wind and get used to sitting behind a computer all the time. You never get to disconnect. If you love it like I do, that’s actually fun. However, you never have a normal schedule and making plans is difficult.
You should also make sure you have writing samples in every style, even if they haven’t been published anywhere other than your own blog. People will ask for them and you should have interviews, reviews, opinion pieces, straight news stories, etc. Immerse yourself in the culture so you can answer any questions. Basically, know your geek stuff!
GB: What is the most difficult obstacle that you’ve had to overcome in your industry or maybe even still overcoming?
JB: Harassment in the workplace. I am lucky to work for amazing people, but that hasn’t always been the case. I was grabbed and harassed by more than one boss in a time when reporting it got you a reputation for being difficult. I know our industry isn’t alone in this.
The other obstacle is getting your loved ones to realize that your job doesn’t stop. You have to write on Christmas and from your vacation. You have to cancel plans and travel constantly. It’s hard to get people to understand that this job gives you perks, but it doesn’t pay much, so when you get a gig, you have to take it, no matter what you had planned.
GB: Picture yourself at ten years old. What advice would you give her? What would she love to know about present-day you?
JB: Oh, I’d tell her to use sunscreen before anything! Actually, I’d tell her not to set your sights on one career, because she’s going to have at least three. The thing about this business is that you have to roll with the punches and never get comfortable.
I guess my ten-year-old self would love to know that she’ll get to work in the industry she loves and that the stupid word processing class that she hated that taught her to type was the best investment of time, EVER! The big surprise would be all the time I’ve gotten to spend with Stan Lee, which would have made her faint!
GB: Who are your female role models and/or inspirations?
JB: Oh, there are so many! Kathleen Kennedy, Lynda Carter, Patty Jenkins, the late Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey for her sheer volume of work… I don’t know when she sleeps! I’ve been inspired by every single woman I’ve seen stand her ground in the business — all businesses. Every actress who’s called out sexism. Helen Mirren, Rose McGowan… there are scores of them. I’m inspired by the woman I saw tell a guy off this morning at the grocery store for swatting her ass. I’m inspired by every woman talking about what she’s been through and braving the response to let the world know that harassment isn’t okay and that we’re not taking it anymore.
GB: Who are some of your favourite fictional female characters of all time?
JB: Oh, I fell in love with Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series when I was little. The early books are a little dated, but Lessa of Benden Weyr and Menolly of the Harper Hall absolutely shaped who I grew up to be. Wonder Woman and Princess Leia, of course. Back in the 1970s, that was all we had! I adore Arya from Game of Thrones. I asked my mom which character I’d be and she laughed and said, “Oh, Arya, of course!” Aeryn Soon from Farscape is up there as well. I’m hoping the new female Doctor in Doctor Who will be next on the list.
GB: How would you like to see this industry grow for not only women, but within the entertainment space?
JB: I’ve talked about harassment and how it needs to change, but one of the things I think is really important is representation. If we keep seeing a team of superheroes and only one of them is female, we’re going to keep assuming it’s unusual for women to be part of this world. When they’re shot strictly for the straight male gaze, young girls get the message that they’re there for someone else’s pleasure. When we see only white, straight people on the big screen, it gives us a narrow view of life. Entertainment has a huge influence on the way we grow up. It’s time to open it up.
GB: Where can people discover more about you? Socials/website/podcast or channel links.
JB: Twitter: @JennaBusch
PsychGeeks (books are all at Barnes & Noble as well as on Amazon)
Thanks again to the lovely Jenna Busch for joining us to celebrate the magic of women in the nerd world!