The tagline on the Team Unicorn Facebook page pretty much sums it up: 'Geek Girls: Like unicorns, we're not supposed to exist.'
Rileah Vanderbilt, Clare Grant, Milynn Sarley and Michele Boyd are beautiful and talented women who are also proud to be nerds! Their first video, “G33K and G4M3R GIRLS”, a parody of Katy Perry's “California Gurls” rocked the geek online community, with guest stars like Seth Green, Stan Lee and Katee Sackhoff. If you haven't seen it, watch it now before you read our interview below.
Vanderbilt explains that she met all three girls at different times on her various jobs all over Los Angeles. She decided to unite all four of them together to bond under their common, geek interests. Although, Grant reveals the real story behind Team Unicorn.
What is the super hero origin story of Team Unicorn?
Clare Grant: Full disclosure, we haven't a 100% sealed in these details. Rileah grew up alone and without parents. She had a super hard life and had to overcome all the obstacles to become awesome [like Batman]. Then this person died and in their will they left Rileah everything! Super billions-millions! She goes to live in her new castle/fortress. She realized she didn't just inherit all these stuff but she also inherited a team of super people. We all have super powers and Rileah becomes the leader of our super hero gang.
Milynn Sarley: We're still working out powers and the rest of the origin story…
A question inspired by SuperHarmony, which super hero or super villain would each of you want to go on a date with? What would be your ideal date night with them?
Michele & Clare Grant: Gambit! [laughter]
Rileah Vanderbilt: He'll probably be a really bad date, but Batman, just because I have fantasies revolving around him. [laughs] There's something about a moody guy. The date would probably suck. It would be all about, “My family died.” I don't know what we would do, maybe we would go somewhere fun… maybe a comedy club.
CG: I'd want to see the romantic side of Gambit. I want him to take me to a nice restaurant that I know he can't afford but he's doing it just because he thinks he can get me into bed. I want him to speak French to me! I would say, “Oh my coffee went cold because we were having such a great conversation!” Then he'd say, “I got that.” Then he'd warm it up with his powers and I'd say, “Oh, Gambit!”
I've had conversations with other girls who experience getting weird looks from guys when they are shopping at comic book stores–one girl had a boy run out a store after seeing her! Do you girls have any stories about being treated differently in the geek community?
MS: I've been buying video games since forever. There hasn't been a single store I've gone to where they haven't asked, “Oh, Call of Duty, is this for a friend?” No, it's for me, dumbass!
I started hanging out at comic book stores when I was a teenager. Guys were really cool [back then] and taught me how to play Magic: the Gathering when I was 15 or 16 years old. But now I go to comic book stores, like most recently, I went to Golden Apples Comics to buy a bunch of toys and statues. One guy said to the owner (who is a friend of ours), “There is no way that's for her. That's for her boyfriend.” The owner replied, “I have it on good authority that she's single and it's definitely for her.”
RV: My husband was in Vegas and won a lot of money. He calls me up and he asked me, what should we spend this money on? I went to Things From Another World up at Universal and I bought out the entire Bounty Hunter set. I told the guy I'm going to need all of those, up there. He started pulling them down and he asked, “Who are these for?” And I said they're for me. He gave me the weirdest look.
MB: I go to Golden Apple on new comic day and there will be guys lined up along the wall where the new books are at. When I walk in, I notice that the guys tend to part a little bit or move slowly away from me wherever I'm standing, looking at comics. It's a little disconcerting.
CG: One of my closest guy friends introduced me to one of his friends and I thought I'd never see this boy in my life again. Then I go to the Golden Apple- side note, which is where I met my husband- and I ran into that dude. He was so shocked and flabbergasted and didn't say anything to me. I called our [mutual] friend and said, “Yo, I ran into your buddy!”
He said, “I know, he's really upset about it. He was in there trying to enjoy comics and then you came! How was he supposed to enjoy comics? That was very unthoughtful of you.” [laughs]
Who do you look up to when it comes to other female geeks paving the way for other women who love comic books and video games?
CG: My hero is Sailor Moon. Her hobbies include chocolate, video games, reading comics and boys. When I was a kid I was in love with her and she had a little brother named Sam, so I thought that show was made for me. They made a whole show about a girl who likes comics and video games, and I felt it made it okay for me to like comic books and video games as well.
RV: I'm really inspired by Bonnie Burton. She is such a uber nerd and geek. She is just doing her own thing, creating books and craft books. She's doing so much for girls in this culture. I think that's really fantastic.
MS: Growing up, I didn't know any women in the geek culture, aside from fictional characters I always aspired to be like. Honestly, Gwen Stefani, I know she's a musician, but she has such a strong female presence. She made it okay for me during my teen years to be strong, but still be sexy and be myself. In terms of Team Unicorn, I feel that is our message too. It doesn't matter who you are. You can still be sexy and beautiful and still be a geek as well. I feel like people think those things tend to clash and that's not necessarily true.
MB: I love, love Katie Sackhoff's Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica. Most recently, you look at what Felicia Day has done to make geek culture more mainstream. She made it okay for females to not only really like geek stuff, but to also use it in a business sense and be in control of her own product and creative ideas. I really, really admire what she's done, not just in the geek community but in the business and web community as well. I love how we have so many strong female role models to look up to and if we become a part of it. That's amazing.
A lot of young girls are still having a hard time when it comes to embracing their nerd side for fear of getting made fun of. Any advice for the next generation of geeky girls?
MS: The really exciting thing about Team Unicorn and other people in the community like Felicia Day- we're changing that. Kids are going to be cruel. If it's not about being a geek, it's going to be about something else. They're always going to find something to tease you about. The beauty of the Internet and all these strong female role models coming out in the geek community, I think it's going to be a lot easier for them. They're going to be able to say, you know what, it is okay for me because I see all these other girls out there doing it and they're having a great time. There's a place for me.
CG: It wasn't until I moved to Los Angeles six years ago when I actually met other girls that had the same type of nerdy interests. Honestly I didn't even have a lot of guys friends who liked comic books and video games. Hopefully, the awareness is being spread and the 'okayness' is being spread so much that other girls won't have to grow up and not have friends that they can talk to and hang out with.
MB: Just the Internet in general is really good about that. Part of the reason we felt so isolated while we were growing up was because we were. Your circle of friends was limited to the people you saw at school everyday. Now, if some little kid watches Game of Thrones on HBO- which god help him- but if he watches it and he loves it, he can go online and join a message board and he can talk to people all over the world about it.
MS: I remember being in grade school, being this weird outcast and I really didn't tell people that I was reading Lord of the Rings at home. Or all these geeky stuff. Now I'm so glad, even though it was tough back then, to be different.
Watch out for Team Unicorn merchandise that will be released for the first time through JINX.com around mid-June, with artwork from artists such as Alex Pardee and Adam Levermore. Their next video will not come out until July; follow the @TeamUnicornFTW twitter for more information! Check out all their videos on their youtube channel.
Also, check out Clare Grant and Rileah Vanderbilt in a webseries called Sexy Nightmare Slayers. Milynn Sarley just got a gig hosting at Machinima.com. Michele Boyd is also acting and have just finished a week long guest role at Nickleodeon's Big Time Rush. Follow them on Twitter to get all the information on their projects: @Rileah @ClareGrant @thegamerchick @micheleboyd
Follow Dianne Garcia on twitter @punkagogo