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Heroes and Villains Fan Fest-Atlanta: For the Fans

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There was a time when you were the fan of a movie or television show the chances of getting to meet and talk to your favorite stars was a near impossibility. That changed with the advent of fan events called cons. There are the large events held annually like San Diego Comic Con, Dragon Con, New York Comic Con and others that take place over nearly a week's worth of activities. The growing popularity of these events has led to the creation of smaller, weekend events. These events are held throughout the year across the country to give fans everywhere the opportunity to meet their favorites and thank them for their work, and for the stars themselves to thank the fans for their support of their shows and projects. Last week I was surrounded by stars, fun, families, and laughter at the Heroes and Villains Fan Fest (HVFF) in Atlanta. The organizers of HVFF have these events down to an art, a weekend filled with stars, grateful fans, activities, artists and vendors all in one venue.

If you have never been to a con of any kind, these are the ones to attend. Last weekend was my second HVFF event and the first to cover for SpoilerTV. From my observations, the theme of last week's event was family, girls weekend and of course the kids. And it was honestly hard to tell who was having more fun, the fans or the stars! Below are a few highlights, observations, fun things I saw and learned. And to top it off, look for a photo essay of the cosplayers at HVFF Atlanta 2017. First off, a shout out to the ladies I met who were there for a girl's weekend – to my new friends from Texas with whom I shared an early Saturday morning Marta ride, to the group from North Carolina who told me about their fan-girl moment when spotting Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow) in their hotel lobby when they were checking in, and finally the group who had driven from Mississippi and were speechless after their photo op with Stephen Amell (Arrow)!

There were so many great moments like this:

It was fun to watch Agents of SHIELD star Ming Na be truly surprised and touched during her panel on the large stage by the event organizers bringing a cake on stage and the audience singing "Happy Birthday!" to her. During that same panel, she paid a lovely tribute to late castmate Bill Paxton. Later she appeared on the smaller stage with HVFF host Dave Solo that featured more intimate 15-minute interviews. She spoke lovingly about her mother, how proud she was of being in Mulan and how she felt Mulan had stepped it up for all princesses, then schooled everyone on stunt fighting staging a wicked punch to Solo who sold it perfectly!

Fans were enthralled by celebrity artist Rob Prior working on a portrait of the character of Colossus from the Deadpool movie as rock music blasted inspiring him.Colossus actor, Stefan Kapicic stood just offstage, mesmerized, watching him work. When asked what it was like watching someone bring his character to life like that, Kapicic said it was "Amazing and mind-blowing." It was fun, early Saturday morning, watching the sheer delight on Katrina Law's (Arrow, Training Day, The Oath) face when a fan presented her with a dozen assorted donuts. Having attended two events where Law has appeared, it's clear she adores interacting with fans, taking extra moments to talk to everyone, making each person feel special and then graciously posing for both silly and regular selfies. She truly enjoys herself as do the other stars, and they often team up to entertain the fans. This time she donned an inflatable red T-Rex costume and chased John Barrowman (Arrow, Torchwood) onto the big stage to crash the Firestorm panel being held by Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow) and Robbie Amel (Flash, Legends of Tomorrow) to the delight of the fans and their fellow actors.

Barrowman is another fan favorite that seemed to truly enjoy interacting with fans. He is known for his panel entrances and in Atlanta, guests were treated to his wonderful singing voice and laughed along with him as he had a bit of fun with the signers for the panel. (In fairness, I understand he had warned the signers he might play a trick on them.) This trick involved randomly throwing in a random off-color phrase in the middle of an answer to see if he could throw them off. These signers never missed a beat to his and the audience's delight.

Perhaps one of the most touching moments I witnessed was Emily Bett Rickards (Arrow) coming from behind her autograph table, to kneel down and greet a 4-year old Felicity look-alike who was beyond excited to meet her idol. It was a sweet moment and one that young fan will never forget. But, Emily was not the only Arrow cast member to connect with a young fan. During the first ever (as they declared) organized Original Team Arrow (Rickards, Stephen Amell, and David Ramsey) panel, young Addison asked who would win in a fight between Princess Rainbow Flash and Green Arrow. Stephen, in all seriousness, when discussing princesses (of which we learned he had a lot of experience with through his own daughter) asked about the powers this princess possessed. He was told she could fly, could do magic (princess magic), and was very cool. He played along, even pretending to take offense at not being considered cool, too, at which time Addison told him, well, she did prefer Emily! The cast's response to her declaration was priceless and Stephen graciously admitted defeat saying he couldn't beat princess magic. The audience loved the exchange, and those around me agreed that in that moment, young Miss Addison had won HVFF Atlanta, hands down!

Emily stated that meeting little girls dressed as Felicity was priceless to her; Stephen told young fans that while they could admire Oliver's strengths they shouldn't look past his faults and David's advice to young fans was, "Be the best you, you could be; start where you are and be true to yourself."

While charming guests gathered at the small stage with his humor and smile, David Ramsey revealed some behind the scenes secrets of his turn in the Green Arrow costume.He admitted that he now understood how Stephen Amell stayed so fit because it was 110 degrees in the suit and you don't have a choice. He also admitted Diggle has a problem with Barry Allen because of the way he messes with time loops and speed forces, he nodded in agreement at a fan's call for "Justice for Baby Sara!" He dubbed John Diggle's followers, Diglets and said if he were a superhero the vehicle he would drive would, of course, be the Digglemobile! And in a more serious moment told fans gathered that he never takes the stories he hears from fans for granted, they mean a lot to him. And to the crowd's delight, he admitted he'd seen the first hour of the highly anticipated crossover (Crisis on Earth X) that begins airing tomorrow night and highly praised both Stephen Amell and Melissa Benoist's' performance. Melissa is exceptionally good in it he said.

Another great thing to see during the event was all of the great cos-play costumes people were wearing. There were Deadpools, Riddlers, Walking Dead, numerous Wonder Women and a plethora of Supergirls! Here are some of my favorites from HVFF Atlanta.

While I was there covering the event for SpoilerTV, I had my fan moments too, that I will share with you. For me, two highlights were meeting the very dapper and charming Victor Garber, who was sporting a great mustache, and taking a selfie with the gracious Caity Lotz (Legends of Tomorrow) rocking a SheThority t-shirt! Another highlight for me was meeting and talking to artist Jason Palmer, who, I learned had been hired by Jennifer Morrison(Once Upon A Time) to create the poster for her directorial debut, Sun Dogs, which stars Melissa Benoist. To the last one, each of the stars appearing at HVFF Atlanta expressed their gratitude for the fans, how grateful they were the fans had come out to see them and for their continued support. There were so many more great moments, too many to list here. If you were at HVFF Atlanta or another HVFF event, what was your favorite moment?

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