An Interview With Shannon Baksa

Meet the woman who plays Mara Jade, and please relax. She didnít really marry Luke Skywalker. Why not? Because Luke is a fictional character. You did know that, right?

We started off the convention interviews by meeting Michonne Bourriage, the face (and hopefully someday, voice) of Aurra Sing in the Star Wars Universe. But Ultarama wasnít through bringing conventioneers the ladies of Lucasí dreams. Also signing was Shannon Baksa, the model hired to portray the ďExpanded UniverseĒ character Mara Jade for cards and conventions.

As a nice bookend to our convention experience, Shannon asked us to keep her company at the autograph tables on a pleasant San Diego Saturday evening. With most of the fans preparing for the Masquerade, it was a lonely place. But hopefully, we made it a little more entertaining for her.

Derek† McCaw: How long have you been cast as Mara Jade?

Shannon Baksa: I was hired in August of í98, but we only shot the pictures then. I didnít start doing appearances until I think, gosh, December of that year? So Iíll say two years. Itís been two years.

DM: You go from show to show. Do you do other work besides playing Mara? Are you an actress as well?

SB: Nooo, Iím not an actress. I model. I do runway, fashion, commercials, small speaking things, but no, Iím not an actress. I donít have any large speaking roles. Iím also a make-up artist, so I can fill in the blanks with that. And Iím a full-time mom.

DM: How many kids?

SB:† Just one. Sheís three. Her nameís Willow, and people think thatís really interesting that I have a daughter named Willow, another science-fiction theme, so everybody knows.

DM: Did Lucas himself have to approve of you?

SB: Yes. Actually, Decipher (cards) met me, talked to me, got pictures, and they discussed it. And then everything had to go to George. It literally had to be sat in front of him, you know, ďwhat do you think? This is the girl?Ē And he had to say yes or no.

DM: When you got this job, were you prepared for fandom and the way that it is?

No. And Iím not sure if Decipher didnít want to tell me or if they could have been smart in doing that or if they didnít know. It was presented to me like a modeling job. I would do this one card and maybe somewhere down the line I would have to sign a few of them but that was it. There was really no mention of anything beyond that.

DM: No offense, but neither of us knew your name, though I saw you here last year. But everybody we talked to at Ultarama acted like we really should know who you are. Do you feel like you have a huge fan following as a result of being Mara Jade?

SB: Oh, my gosh. The reason they did this, the reason Decipher and Lucas did this, was because Mara is really the most popular character from the books and the comics and all of that. Star Wars Insider did an article a couple of years ago called ďWho Needs a Movie Anyway?Ē and it was about Mara, because sheís got this tremendous following. That has nothing to do with me, and I think that what people like is that they actually finally put a face to her. Now thereís a person that they can talk to. So thatís where it is. And it was all there before I got the job.

DM: You say that youíre a face for them to talk to. Would you care to share the most bizarre convention experience that youíve had as a result of someone talking to Mara?

SB: I donít think thereís one in particular. Iíve had a couple of stalkers, which I think is really odd. I have people come up all the time who really live these stories. They donítÖit doesnít click with them sometimes that Iím not Mara. Itís not reality. I had a guy come up to me a couple of conventions ago and say, ďwell, if youíre really Mara let me see you levitate this table.Ē But he was very serious. He wasnít joking. You know you look for that ďha, ha, whereís the punchline?Ē and people come up and say things like that all the time. You know itís not a joke. Thatís kind of scary.

DM: Are you afraid that you might mistreat Luke in a book and have people come after you?

SB: Hey, I said Iíve had three stalkers. Iíve changed my phone number three times, my e-mail, my cell phone. Iíve had a guy follow me to the gym every day. It makes you wonder. Iím just Shannon.

DM: Letís repeat that: JUST SHANNON. We can look around here at the convention and see people who did some science fiction thing thirty, forty years ago, padding their income by appearing at these things. Do you see yourself as Mara in twenty years?

SB: Yes and no. If they keep my face, if they keep Shannon as Mara. As long as stuff is coming out, and Iím representing her, Iíll always keep up with it and sign autographs and do everything that I can do. Will I do the convention circuit for the next thirty years? Oh, gosh, no. Thatís justÖitís hard. A different city every other week through the convention season, and then overseas travel is crazy. I donít think that I can raise a three-year-old and live like that.

DM: What do you want for yourself in the near future, your dream?

SB: Oh, gosh, this isnít going to go over really well. Iíd like to be re-married one day and have more children. Iíd like to be a stay at home mom. And I know that does not sound exciting, but thatís what Iíd like.

- Derek McCaw

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