It’s not every day you find an actor who loves fanfiction as much as you do, but Eaddy Mays (Victoria Argent, Teen Wolf) certainly fits the bill.
Fandom is an internet phenomenon that has been quickly gaining speed and shows no signs of slowing down. A lot of actors are still trying to digest the power of social media and the destruction of the fourth wall, but a few have already accepted these changes. Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow) immediately comes to mind as one of those pioneers, and so does Eaddy Mays.
We talked to Mays about a variety of topics, including her character from Teen Wolf, but the focus of our discussion was on fanfiction, including why she thinks it’s so popular, her perception of the media’s portrayal, and if she believes it’ll be just as prevalent several years down the line.
First and foremost, it’s important to note that Mays not only reads fanfiction, but she also writes it. She’s one of the cherished few that has been on both sides of that wall — and she revels in it. Even though her character was killed off in season 2, Mays still takes time out to go to Teen Wolf conventions, often bringing laughter and tears to the audience in a single breath.
Mays also frequently requests to do a panel discussion about fanfiction. Her passion for the subject, you might have noticed, is palpable.
So, why is fanfiction so popular? “I think, particularly with ‘Teen Wolf,’ it’s because through the seasons there have been so many loose ends and so many inexplicable happenings that the ‘huh?’ factor has been naturally filled in.” And Mays can relate to this, given her character’s eventual outcome. “Okay, I’ll just use me,” she clarifies. “My eyes glowed yellow as I plunge a kitchen knife into my chest, there’s no funeral and no real body revealed, just something under a sheet. Is Victoria Argent dead or not? That very question lends itself to writing about, and it just makes sense to me that people would want their [forum] to do that, I’m not saying necessarily about me, but about whomever, about whatever.” She pauses, then asks a common question as another example, “Where did Jackson go?”
“Has my involvement with the fandom given me a different view of fanfic?” she asks. “It absolutely has, yes. It’s funny because fanfic, and […] fanfic for this television series, makes me have an even greater affection for the fandom.” She marvels at the idea, asking, “You guys thought enough of this that you would write about it?”
But Mays doesn’t just sit on the sidelines when it comes to fanfiction; she wants to be a voice for all fandoms, saying that fanfiction doesn’t have to be a “dirty little secret” anymore.
“First and foremost, the media portrayal of fanfiction infuriates me. It’s immature, among many things. It’s bullying. And it should be illegal, frankly,” she says. This comes on the heels of a discussion about certain outlets having cast members read out-of-context fanfiction, adding silly post-production effects that seemingly mock the fans, rather than praise them for their creativity.
“Does this portrayal affect the overall perception of fandom? You think? Yes. Absolutely. Obviously,” she says. Later adding, “I will do everything in my power to support every fandom that writes fanfic, that creates fan art. Stop letting your work and your creativity be stolen. Stop having to hide behind pen names because you’re afraid somebody will bully you on the internet or publicly on television or on YouTube or whatever else it is, in front of people that you respect and love, and actors. None of that should happen. It’s wrong and it’s morally corrupt.”
Members of the media aren’t the only ones who have had some missteps with fandom and fanfiction. Actors are often put on the spot and asked their opinion about what fans have written. Unfortunately, many times this fanfiction was not used with permission of the author, and it was used out of context and in a way that makes the actors uncomfortable.
But Mays has a solution to that problem, too. She wants to make the phrase, “Your kink is not my kink and that’s okay,” a mantra. It allows anyone — the media, actors, even other members of a fandom — to let the other person know they don’t share the same passion, but that they support them nonetheless. It allows for an open conversation that doesn’t shame one side or the other, even if their opinions on the subject are vastly different.
“I think it’s because people are innately afraid of what is different from them, and what is different from typical or mainstream,” she says, talking about the stigma surrounding fanfiction. She hopes some day classes will be taught about how to interact with fans without making waves, correctly stating that a show or movie can live or die by its social media presence.
“I don’t think actors in general realize what’s happening because of that quote-unquote fourth wall,” states Mays. “Because there’s been the wall. There’s the us and them, and, ‘Oh, yes, I’ll sign this for you.’ I don’t think they understand what’s happening and how the wall has shattered. There are bits of it lying around, but it’s gone. It’s just gone. It’s called the internet. Welcome. It’s 2014.”
And Mays believes many actors innately understand fanfiction because of what they must do for their jobs. In fact, “That’s what got me into fanfic. When fans would ask me a question, and I would say, ‘You know, this would be a lot easier and just cut through some crap if I answer like Victoria Argent.’ Oh! Fanfic. Isn’t that funny.”
But what Eaddy Mays wants to make incredibly clear is that fanfiction writers should not be ashamed of what they’re doing, and they should know that their work is important. She doesn’t want mockery from the media to continue another day. “Fandom, you don’t have a voice,” she says. “And I will speak loud and clear. You have your own voice, though. And I will support you. Write to the FCC. Write to your congressman. Write to the Writer’s Guild. And make fanfic protected.”
“Own what you’re doing. Do it. Live what you love. Go. Write your fanfic,” she says. Later adding, “I think people should share their gifts. And the world would be a better place if they did.”
But will this whole fanfic issue really matter weeks, months, or years down the line?
“It absolutely will not be just as prevalent in 10 or 15 years. No way,” she says, letting that sink in for a moment. “It’s going to explode. It’s going to take off. It’s already doing it. And anybody who denies it is a buffoon. I have to call it what it is. It will be, in 10 or 15 years, a huge, valuable, respected phenomena. And it’s going to change the way things are done.”
“It’s already changing the face of the publishing industry,” she continues. “And it’s going to continue to do so, and if you don’t believe me, read the New York Times article about Wattpad. Or, like I said, talk to the author of ’50 Shades of Grey.’ It’s changing everything. So, no, it cannot be squelched: fanfom, fanfic, fan art. And it shouldn’t be squelched. Don’t squelch yourself. And don’t let anybody else do so. Please.”
It’s not hard to see how much Mays has already invested in this issue, and she’s in it for the long haul. Her enthusiasm and belief in the rights of fanfiction writers is tangible, and it’s enough to bring you to tears. And, in fact, there a few moments where Mays’ voice catches as she’s talking about this issue and how much she believes in fighting for the merit of fanfiction.
It’s when she’s talking about a book the Sterek Campaign sent her about the popular slash ship that you can see exactly how much she takes this issue to heart. She picks it up to make a point, flipping it over and noticing something written on the back for the first time. “The back says…this is really sweet, I didn’t see this until just now. It says, ‘Made with love.'” She has to pause, the emotion evident in her voice. “Can you wrap it up better than that? I don’t think so. That’s it. It’s made with love. So why would you cast any dispersion on that?”
You can listen to the entire in-depth conversation about fanfiction on our latest episode of Not Another Teen Wolf Podcast.