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Friday, September 9, 2016

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH FILIPA THESPIAN by Luc Fray





The coffee I had ordered had just been served when Filipa Thespian entered the cozy café I was in. One of the most influential personalities in Second Life, especially in the field of Role-play, Filipa is currently getting her hands busy as the CEO of iMoogi TV, COO of iMoogi Radio, Founder & Publisher of Roleplay Guide Magazine,  CEO of Avante Modeling Agency, CEO & Editor-In-Chief of Nu Vibez Magazine, COO of Avatar PR, and COO of The Clubbing Connection. And even with a full plate going on, the woman still manages to be warm and down-to-earth. It’s little wonder then that she was my top choice to write about when I got my gig back here in SL Enquirer.

Luc Fray: Ok, so you've been in SL for almost 8 years now, Filipa. How did you find out about the game and what made you stay this long?

Filipa Thespian: Actually I've been in Second Life for nearly 11 years now. Last December was my 10th year anniversary, though on a different avatar.

Luc Fray: Whoa! Eleven years is a long time.

Filipa Thespian: It was December 2005 and my now ex-husband’s younger brother had shown him SL when he had come to visit with us for a week or two for the holidays. The day that we dropped his brother off at the airport, for him to return to California, my ex told me about Second Life and asked me to join with him. We were avid gamers at that time and, at first glance, it was just another game.  I actually said no, as I knew I’d get sucked in and I was trying to focus on finishing college. He pushed and pushed and pushed and eventually I gave in.

Within a few weeks, I had started a nightclub, IL Paradiso.  That was my first experience “crashing” a sim due to too large a volume of people (yay for marketing!).  It was also back in the days when SL literally crashed a lot, leaving us off the grid and wondering in desperation “OMG!  When will I finally get back?"

Then, during the Spring of 2006, I discovered Role-play in Second Life, and wow did I get involved and immersed! So much so that I created my first sim, the original Port Kar.

In March or April of 2007, I sold Kar to Dark Starr to move on to other things but I never really left RP. I also got into making clothing in SL.

Luc Fray: I heard Port Kar is a very popular place.

Filipa Thespian: Well it was, if it’s still around. I believe it’s totally different now. Maybe even all new sims. Not sure. I know Dark sold it off a couple years ago and left SL. I kinda lost track of Kar after that.

Luc Fray: You mentioned you were the one who created your avatar. Is there a particular reason why you chose your name as it is?

Filipa Thespian: Oh well, on both avatars actually, yes. My original avatar was Daeden Jessop.  Daeden was the name of a character I used to play in table top dungeons and dragons. Daeden is elvish for “Day Spring" and Jessop was the last name of the character in that movie where he said “You can’t handle the truth!”

I created this account a few years later and chose “Thespian” because well, in RL, I manage playwrights and their intellectual properties and am involved in many things theatrical and entertainment so it just made sense to me. Especially considering how I use SL as part of my RL businesses.

Luc Fray: You've been involved in all sorts of SL media, from Radio to TV to magazine. Which one do you love working the most, and how are the three different from each other based on your experience?

Filipa Thespian: Oh wow! Love the most is hard to choose...they each have their aspects that really draw a creative person like me who also has a marketing/business mind.

Let’s see...I've been doing magazines the longest, having started as artistic director of BOSL in September of ‘09. Stayed there in that position till the May 2011 issue. Then I started Roleplay Guide in April of 2011. I’ve been in graphics and publishing in both print and online mediums since um...well...a very, very long time. Double-digit years, but to say how many really shows my age.

The Radio and TV are newer to me and the video projects are fun. I’ve been learning some really amazing special effects software, from the guys who are working on movies like Star Wars and Star Trek. It’s amazing!

Luc Fray: You don’t look like your age…       

Filipa Thespian: Oh, it doesn’t show if I don't tell you. Though to look at me, I tend to get anywhere from 10 to 25 years younger than I actually am in estimates. Ooo, which reminds me. My mother’s doctor earlier this year told me she thought I was in my early 20’s! I liked that one a lot!

Luc Fray: Well you know what they say…Cheerfulness keeps the years away.

Filipa Thespian: Oh I was thinking, “You’re only as old as you think you are.”

Luc Fray: *laughs*

Filipa Thespian: If that’s true, then I’m like...19?

Luc Fray: *shakes his head and chuckles again*But the work here isn’t that stressful?

Filipa Thespian: Here in SL? Nah.

Luc Fray: Yeah, in SL. How would you rate the busy-ness level?

Filipa Thespian: SL is part of my RL businesses. I’m just returning from a month without a PC at home to work on SL-related things. I still don’t have it back, but since things are so backed up here in SL, I'm also focusing on in-world work while at the Studio where my other PC lives.  I just multi-task things more now I suppose.  I was scarily behind in responding to customer needs, inquiries, and support from my store, and that is totally unacceptable to me. I work hard to make my customers feel special and a part of something wonderful and it was upsetting to think I was letting them down. 

As soon as my computer situation is stable again, I need to get back to work on the Made to Model Reality TV show project to finish season 1 and get it out there already. That’s the one thing in which I find a bit of stress because it affects so many people when I can’t get in and do what I need to do.  But otherwise, it’s so much fun and I can’t wait to get it out there.  The trailer isn’t enough for those waiting on it.

To top things off, my partner, Scorpinosis Nightfire, has been signing new artists for us to manage (in RL) and I've had a ton of graphics- and marketing-related work outside of SL to do…so, it’s always something. But in the end, all of it is, at the core, my joy in life (besides my kids) in that I get to be creative and artistic and do different things all the time. I hate doing the same things all the time.

Luc Fray: Nice! You mentioned a reality show Made to Model. What is it about?

Filipa Thespian: Oh well, 14 girls all compete for the title of Miss Made to Model and L$200,000 prize (among other prizes).  It’s similar to America’s Next Top Model though it has a few twists and alterations to make it workable in Second Life. The last episode we finished filming before my forced hiatus…well, we dropped a huge bomb on the ladies and the reactions were PRICELESS.  I can't wait to get it out there for everyone.  Would you like to see the trailer?

Luc Fray: Yes! Who is the host though?


Oh well, the lovely Miss Faith Aljon of Virtual Village fame is our host and oh my God, she’s simply amazing!

The website for the show is http://www.AreYouMadeToModel.com, if you and your readers want to keep up to date on what’s what with the show.

Luc Fray: What are some of the problems you’ve encounter in this show?


Filipa Thespian: Well, personalities can be an issue... but more the point, in any project in SL where you have a large number of people you’re coordinating, there are massive challenges.


Luc Fray: You're also the COO of Avante Modelling Agency. What's it like working in this field and what problems do you usually encounter?

Filipa Thespian: I’m actually CEO of Avante.

Luc Fray: Oh, sorry about that. I was checking your profile and it says COO.... I apologize.

Filipa Thespian: That’s my fault. I must have typo’d there. No need to apologize. It’s really not a big deal. Those titles are not important as Scorp and I are to each other, of equal standing in all our businesses.

Luc Fray: Are both Scorp and you involved in Roleplay Guide Magazine and Nu Vibez too? How do the two publications differ and which one do you like working better?

Filipa Thespian: Well, we are involved in all our brands together actually, and in the summer of 2015, I chose to merge the two publications into one.  RPG is now part of Nu Vibez and the masthead shows both names.

But in how they differ... Nu Vibez is a modern-day, mainstream, pop-culture publication that covers current events in RL and SL as well as what’s important to those who read, while Roleplay Guide focuses on all things about role-play from who’s making what great things for RP, to the places to RP, and even into education on the specifics, for example, what is meta-gaming and how to avoid it.

In each issue, I do something called “Pips Picks” where I feature 10 SL artists from Flickr who post their works to our group, to get them some free recognition. That one’s important to me, including these amazing artists. So many of them go unrecognized. Our next issue has one of them on the cover with the most amazing piece. I can’t wait to get that one out the door.

But Nu Vibez had also started looking into getting at least one article, that deals with something RP related, per issue as our audience also found RPG important and of interest, so it began to make a ton of sense to merge the magazines and the audience.

Luc Fray: How many subscribers do you have for RP Guide and Nu Vibez and how do you maintain the interest of the readers?

Filipa Thespian: Well, we distribute to an estimated 5 million both in world and online through social media outlets, through our mailing lists and our subscriber list. Out of that, I’d say around 40,000 are “subscribers.”  We are looking for reliable staff right now, by the way.  In writing, photography, and layout. Possibly, a managing editor as well.

As for topics, everything’s on the table with Nu Vibez/RPG.  We always look at current events; for example, when Nelson Mandela died, that month we did a piece on him. Same for Robin Williams, BB King, and Oscar De La Renta.  At the same time, we’ve done pieces on SL and the intellectual property rights issues, content creator issues, mental health issues, online safety issues, interviews with SL personalities, and well really...there’s a lot we’ve done.


Luc Fray: It must get really busy. Do you feel pressured?

Filipa Thespian: No. It takes a lot of time on publishing day for distribution, but that’s what we’re about. Our core business is called Avatar PR. Everything else is a brand under or partnered with AvPr and through AvPr our work is boiled down to creating audiences to which we can get the messages of our clients distributed and disseminated (www.AvatarPR.com).

Luc Fray: I first met you in Gods of Valor. Back then, you owned the Spartacus-inspired sim. I don't know if you still remember me. I was a thief and you played a lanista. Are you presently involved in any role-play sims? Can you recommend us any?

Filipa Thespian: Yes, who could forget you, Luc. *winks*

Luc Fray: *chuckles*
                                                  
Filipa Thespian: Well, while I myself am not role-playing, there is one sim in particular I would recommend because I know the builder, the man who owns it. I know the caliber of his work and the RP he works to promote.  It’s Capua 83 B.C. (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Wakusei%20Deikano/13/109/59), owned and operated by hotfire6930 (today known as Gaius Cornelius Alkesh).  Last I heard, it was a by-invitation-only RP community, so it involves some heavy interviewing before acceptance.

But the sim design is breathtaking!... Well, I should say *and* the sim design is breathtaking. *laughs*

I am actively looking for stories of RP sims though. While I don’t RP these days (too much on my plate), I really want to know what’s going on out there and am working on ways that my RP build business can help RP sims to get more traction, visibility, and growth.

Luc Fray: Ah yeah! I saw you there when Capua opened. *grins*

 Filipa Thespian: Yeah, I was visiting to have a peek.

Luc Fray: Alkesh mentioned you two are good friends.

Filipa Thespian: Yes, he’s mah bud!

I do have something interesting to share if you want the first break on the big news.

Luc Fray: Yes, I'd like that!

Well, you brought up Gods of Valor. Over the summer, I was speaking with a customer—a lovely woman who was building a new RP sim. And through this conversation, I came to realize something. The name of my store “Where It Begins” is clever and cute, but it wasn’t my heart or my soul.  Gods of Valor was, however.  It’s also a much better name all around, and so cool in the marketing and artistic side.  So over the summer, I began re-branding my store to Gods of Valor.  I “woke up” the old group [Gods of Valor] as the customer group and began creating the plan for a cross-RP sim project to promote traffic to these amazing sims through my traffic at my store and through my marketing resources.  I really do want to help these RP sims to stay alive and grow!

While re-branding my builds, I am also using new SL tech and things I've learned since I originally built some of these structures, and wow am I cutting the prim counts down on all of my builds, sometimes by half and, on a few pieces, by more than half. While updating and refreshing the old, a few new builds emerged and I've gotten them out there too. But until they’re all updated, I’m not pushing the brand too heavily as there are a few items still in the rezzer that won’t rezz right until they’re updated.

http://www.GodsOfValor.com has the full story. That’s the blog of the builds, the original Gods of Valor forums with all the roman research in them and some other original Gods of Valor blog posts with class discussions and RP education topics, as well.  Everyone's invited to join the forums and use them, as long as they stay on point in the forums and not spam or do crazy nasty things.

Luc Fray: Gods of Valor is back but is a store? Nice. What are the products you guys are displaying?

Filipa Thespian: Well right now it’s mostly structures. With the rebranding, there’s furniture here being created as well. After I get this core done, I’ll be releasing a line of RP attire too.  All of it centered around role-play of all kinds, though my core theme is still Roman.

I will be writing articles on the blog as well, with tips and tricks to sim building and management as well as some ideas and idea discussion on running an RP community with success and limited drama.
I learned that there are many sim builders/owners out there that don’t know a few things I do (again learning from talking to my customers) and I realized I should put this knowledge down for others to benefit from.

Luc Fray: Awesome! I'm involved in two Roman sims right now. As a gladiator in Capua and a rookie member of the Vigiles in Pompeii. I’d have to go and visit your store.

Filipa Thespian: That’s awesome. I had spoken to Pompeii (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Ravenwolf/13/139/24) before the summer began. They were looking for Pompeian builds, but I wasn’t able to get the ones I had been working on done for them in time. So many needs, so little time.

And oh yes, the store’s had a HUGE revamp! I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. It too is a custom build. I swear I must have been a Roman in ancient times in a past life, as the genre seems so much like “old home week” to me.

Luc Fray: That would really be helpful since most of the RP clothing here in SL are catered to women, and guys aren't getting much love.

Filipa Thespian: I know they aren’t, and I’m gonna do mah best to start to include them!

Luc Fray: Then I’ll be spending a lot of time in your store then!

Filipa Thespian: Yay!

Luc Fray: So what are Filipa Thespian’s future plans and goals?

Filipa Thespian: Well there are a lot of big things getting ready to erupt for Scorp and me.  We’ve been working so hard on so many fronts simultaneously and they’re all getting ready to explode mainstream very soon.  My plans and goals are to get them there.  Add to this, one of my primary focuses, my RL son and his performing career. Yes, I’d have to say he’s a major priority. Have I ever told you about him? He’s an international award-winning young magician. He’s also an accomplished singer and actor and has performed his magic with Broadway stars and had guidance from great magicians like Darren Romeo and Lance Burton, and is even Facebook pen-pals with David Copperfield.

Darren Romeo’s stage producer is a huge fan of my son’s and has also helped him.  Actually, helped him polish up a few little things in his performance this past summer, the one that brought home a first-place win in an international competition with young magicians from all over the world including Korea, Australia, and Russia.

Luc Fray: What’s your son’s name?

Filipa Thespian: His name is Evan Myles.  This is that performance that won.


The music in that performance was written for him and is being sung by him, though it’s currently pre-recorded.  In future performances, he’ll sing it live while performing.

Luc Fray: You must be one proud mama.

Filipa Thespian: I am!


Luc Fray: Ok, ok. I think I've taken up too much of your time and you're a busy woman. Any parting words of wisdom for our readers?

Filipa Thespian: Well, just a little note to remember something very important, especially here in SL…
It is of the utmost importance to remember that, while we all have a level of anonymity here in SL, each one of us is a real person behind the screen. We all have feelings, dreams, desires, needs, and so on, and we all deserve to be treated with kindness, to not be bullied, and to not be taken advantage of. We all need to remember to treat the other avatars (people) we interact with here, with the same dignity, kindness, and respect that we want to be treated with and that, to try to destroy someone else or their work, for your own enjoyment, is just not acceptable. We must all love ourselves and one another for RL and SL to prosper for everyone.

Luc Fray: Excellent advice, Ms. Thespian! Beautiful, as well as wise.

Filipa Thespian:  It’s a lot of years in the making. Thank you so much for wanting to write about me and our work.

Luc Fray: Oh no problem at all! I want to write about you. It is all my pleasure.
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