How a hardcore gamer came to host a Canadian genre entertainment news show for a living.
by Kellie Sheridan
From comics to video games, it takes all kinds to make geek culture happen. Some among us have been lucky enough to take their passion for all things geek and turn it into a career. So, how do they get there? Does working in the industry take away any of the appeal? And, is it all as awesome as it sounds?
Short answer: Yes!
This month, I had the opportunity to speak with Ajay Fry, who co-hosts InnerSPACE, a job that allows him to explore every aspect of geek culture both at home in Canada, and around the world. Interviewing genre stars, moderating convention panels, and speaking geek five days a week, what’s not to love about that?!
So, in his own words—what is it that Ajay Fry actually does?
AF: Currently, I co-host (along with Teddy Wilson and Cynthia Lyost) InnerSPACE, SPACE’s flagship entertainment news series. Five nights a week, we take you behind the scenes of your favourite entertainment franchises (be they movies, TV shows, comics or games) to bring you exclusive interviews and coverage with the creative minds behind the content you love. My job involves hosting interviews, discussing the stories in the show as well as the news of the day… and often finds me working on producing segments for the show as well.
GS: And what does a typical work day look like at InnerSPACE?
AF: A typical day isn’t all that exciting, actually. On my way into work I read over the news stories we’ll be talking about. When I get to work it’s right into make-up. Then I’ll sit at my desk and watch the stories that will be featured in that days show while I eat my breakfast. Following that we have a quick script read at 9:30 and then we’re off to studio to record the show between 10:30 and 11:30. After Lunch, I’ve typically got some writing to do. I’m either writing New on the Shelf, a blog for SPACECAST.com or trying to write pitches for possible stories on the show. There might be a production meeting, or a meeting to go over the contents of one of our weekly segments or I may have a shoot on location.
GS: What is your favorite part of your job?
AF: Like many other geeks, I’m actually pretty shy… The perk of hosting InnerSPACE is that it makes other people feel like they know me, so they can approach me and strike up a conversation. So I get to geek out with fellow fans, without any awkwardness. I suppose the other perk could be getting to do amazing things like going to SkyWalker Ranch, E3, Comic-Con and even the set of Harry Potter in London.
GS: What’s involved in hosting/moderating a panel at a Convention?
AF: It depends on the guests and subject, but typically some research into their background and credits as well as upcoming material. The most rewarding compliments I’ve ever been given are actually about my abilities as a panel moderator. It’s a tricky line to walk… asking a few questions that illicit great answers, and then opening it up to the floor for audience questions. Often times, the audience questions can be enhanced with a bit more direction (or in certain cases, less specifics).
It’s also funny how often this happens to Teddy, Cynthia and I: We write dozens of great questions to ask our panelist, and we bring along a list of generic topical questions as back up… but then the audience is full of great questions and we use almost none of what we spent so long preparing.
GS: Were you a fan of genre entertainment before joining the SPACE team?
AF: Yes! My favorite movies are mostly genre classics, and I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation with my folks. I collected X-Men and Ghost Rider comics as a kid. My real obsessive passion was (and still is) gaming.
GS: And what are your current video games of choice?
AJ: DayZ, MineCraft, StarCraft II, Hero Academy, League of Legends
GS: Has your enjoyment of genre entertainment evolved at all since becoming a professional geek?
AF: It certainly has evolved. Most noticeably in the amount of genre TV I consume. Previously I spent most of my free time gaming (and honestly that hasn’t changed much) but when you work for Canada’s genre TV channel, it’s part of your job to stay on top of the shows the channel is showing. So now I’ve become a fan of series I previously had little exposure to. But even beyond the channel, some of my favourite shows certainly fall into the genre category, they’re just on other networks. Who else is excited for Game of Thrones to return?
GS: You’ve had the opportunity to interview countless genre stars. What has been your biggest fanboy moment so far?
AJ: Pitch Black is one of my all time favorite movies and Vin Diesel was one of my very first big star interviews, and the day when I met him in New York is one I’ll never forget because we totally geeked out about World of Warcraft. My interview with him was nearly done and I wanted to quickly ask him if he was Horde or Alliance and if he played PVE or PVP. Instead he took the thirty seconds I had left, and stretched it into 5 more minutes of gold all about WoW. He even started asking me questions! I walked out with a huge grin on my face while the publicist had a huge frown.
InnerSPACE airs in Canada, weeknights at 6 p.m. ET on SPACE, with clips and additional content found at space.ca.
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