This is an article I wrote last week and submitted to a magazine, but haven’t heard whether or not they accepted it. But anyway, I’m going to post it here now.
Big Purple Dreams Reaches 4000
J. Lynn Stapleton
10 May, 2009
Sunday evening, the Big Purple Dreams – the Otalia Fan Forum reached 4000 members. Considering that the BPD was only opened January 10th, 2009, this is a tremendous accomplishment for a fandom that focuses not only on the developing relationship of two women, Olivia Spencer and Natalia Rivera, falling in love. The BPD fan forum also celebrates the overall stories of the show, Guiding Light. The show’s remarkable turn around within the past year has made for plenty of highs and lows, and has been an absolute joy to watch. The turn of the show to focus on family, relationships, redemption has made this show must-see-tv. The return of the show to telling well-written, character-driven stories is paying off, despite the April 1st cancellation notice by CBS. It is with great effort and hope within the fandom of Guiding Light that the show will find a new home elsewhere.
The extent to which the Big Purple Dreams fan forum has grown could not have come about without the dedicated persistence and talent at those behind the storylines at Guiding Light: Ellen Wheeler, Executive Producer, Jill Lorie Hurst, Co-Head-Writer, Proctor & Gamble, and TeleNext, and last but certainly not least, Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia, the cast and crew of Guiding Light.
I had the pleasure to speak with April Grant (Destini) via email to ask her what prompted her decision to start the Big Purple Dreams fan forum, where it’s come from and where it is going.
Q: Destini, you’ve been been asked this question before in previous interviews. However, with an increasingly broader fanbase joining the Otalia fan forum who may not already know, what initially made you come up with the idea to start the Big Purple Dreams fan forum?
A: The initial idea, as hard as this may be to believe, was for Mel and I to create a space where we could simply talk about the show with a few others we knew were watching. We had been doing that and a live pbp on the board of another fandom for a few months and it seemed time. I had already created the youtube channel, mainly out of a selfish need to watch their clips over and over. That is how it all started. The youtube channel birthed the site and the name sprouted out of my head because the New Years Eve episode made such an impression on me. It still does.
Q: This is not so much a question but rather a statement. There were several original members of the board who also expressed an interest in Otalia and who quite quickly jumped on board to help make this Big Purple Dreams fan forum happen. They also deserve an equal amount of support and praise for helping to create such a warm, comfortable presence online. As a leader of this Fan forum, you do get a lot of credit for that. I would also like to thank them for their continued support of the board.
A: That is so very true. We have numerous people who jumped on board right away and many who have stepped up since then from Anita, Marsha and Christi to Jess, our newest mod and Marla working on the Otalia Wikipedia page. Beyond that, we are a member-driven board. If I have become their voice then I cannot think of a better group of people to represent nor could I be more proud, honoured and humbled to be able to do so.
Q: There’s a quote from the film, A Field of Dreams, which goes, “If you build it, they will come.” I think this is very apt for the Big Purple Dreams fan forum. When you started this board, did you ever anticipate the amazing growth that the BPD has seen over the past four months?
A: Not once, no. I didn’t know if soap fans were ready for this. Hell, I didn’t even know if GLBT fans were ready for a story that truly was being told beyond labels and some I fear are still not. But for me this is what I as an activist, journalist and media consultant have been praying for and striving towards my whole career. We may not have known that this would expand beyond our initial small living room but the energy the members bring to the board really have not altered that feel. It’s just a larger living room! For many, me included, this is a life altering storyline. Seeing ourselves reflected for the very first time was bound to have an impact. I’m just glad that BPD can be here as a gathering place and a collective voice.
Q: It is so heartening to have such a welcoming positive community on the board. There’s only one other that I’ve come across (an small email list community which I’ve been part of for 15 years). Have you ever been a part of such powerful experience before?
A: I was a part of the Xena fandom from the beginning. I even met my partner through the Xena Campfire Girls list many moons ago. That fandom, too, was a very powerful experience, as was the Voyager fandom. But to answer your question, no I have never seen anything like Big Purple Dreams. The energy of the mods and admins combined with that of our members and the people from GL has created something I’m not sure that anyone has ever seen before. I am more proud of that than I can articulate.
The fact that the BPD has in fact been such a large supporter of Guiding Light’s efforts to find a new home on another network has been noticed by the powers that be amongst the cast and crew, production offices, Proctor and Gamble, and TeleNext. Members are writing letters and postcards in record numbers, calling into the Guiding Light customer response lines. We know that Proctor and Gamble are actively working on finding a home for Guiding Light.
Q: With 4000 members already, this community has grown by leaps and bounds in such a short time in unprecedented numbers. I’m being optimistic here in saying this, but when that happens and they find a new home, what do you hope to see happen with the BPD, the podcasts, etc? What do you envision for the Big Purple Dreams community in the coming months/years?
A: I have never doubted that PGP/Telenext was looking for a new home for Guiding Light. We are proud and humbled that our efforts have been noticed. I am only too happy and thrilled that we, as an active fanbase, can be a small part of that. I hope that our passion for the show can spread and bring in a legion of new fans.
I have been working on getting our portal site up and running. It will be different from BPD but still the same feel and energy. I would like to see that site expand, see the board expand and see the podcasts continue with the ability to interview a wide range of people from the GL creative team. I’d like to see our members creative efforts expand as well.
On a personal level I hope to be involved on some level in promoting GL through my efforts and those of BPD etc. This is the most gratifying fandom, board and group of people I have ever had the privilege to know. I hope to always stay connected to them.
Thank you kindly, Destini, for the interview, and I hope we can do something similar and greater when the Big Purple Dreams reaches 5000 and beyond.