#WeWantWidow: An Interview with Kristin Rielly

Today, cosplayers all over the world are unleashing a surprise flash mob and using the hashtag #WeWantWidow to call for more representation of Black Widow in media and merchandise. Kristin Rielly of riellygeek.com, the creator of the event, was kind enough to answer some questions for us about this super cool happening.

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Can you tell us a little bit about the Black Widow Flash Mob and #WeWantWidow—specifically, its purpose and the way you pulled it off?

Marvel and Disney seem to be misinformed about their actual demographic. There have been tons of posts asking #WhereIsNatasha since Black Widow is missing from most merchandise lines and was even replaced by a Captain America action figure from her kick-ass scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Men and women alike have been posting and tweeting about the lack of promotion of female super heroines in the latest movies and merchandise, but Marvel and Disney still aren’t listening.

Many tweeted recommending boycotts, which I don’t believe in. One, because it would take an unachievable number of supporters to diminish sales enough to make a difference, and two, because no one responds well to negative criticism.

The point is that we want to see more of Black Widow and other female super heroines given the same attention as their male counterparts. And the only way I could see making that statement loud enough for Marvel and Disney to listen was to organize a multi-city flash mob.  Seeing hundreds of images of cosplayers dressed as Black Widow along with thousands of online profile being changed her image make our statement as clear as possible. Plus it’s a super fun event and a positive way to spread our message: We Want Widow.

This is the first mob event of its kind too. I don’t think anyone has coordinated multiple flash mobs before. And with Black Widow cosplayers around the globe uploading photos to social media outlets with our tag #WeWantWidow, our voice will be strong. The cosplayers will be attending in either full Natasha cosplay, in any of her iterations, or in all black with a red wig or hat. My vision is for these images to become a sea of Widows. And our online Widow army, those who can’t attend a mob, have agreed to change their profile images for the day to a pic of Natasha while supporting and sharing our hash tag.

I got volunteers in 16 cities to coordinate a location for the mobs to meet since they would know the area the best. Our “City Captains” are my heroes, since they made sure the locations wouldn’t need any permits, acquired permits of needed, and even reached out to local news channels to gain further coverage.

How it started…since social media is the best form of communication, I decided to make a private event and start inviting friends and encouraged them to invite their friends. I literally had the idea on the couch about three weeks ago, create the event and invited about 40 fangirls I know. In about an hour there were over 300 invites sent out.

I remember turning to my hubby saying..”I think I just did a thing!”

Honestly, I didn’t know if this would lead anywhere but I really felt so strongly about needing to stand up for fangirls, I wanted to at least try. Also, Jay Justice, the Philly Captain and my second-in-command has been instrumental in keeping our group focused and maintaining the integrity of our mission.

What are your hopes for the future of #WeWantWidow?

I hope that this is the beginning of a more inclusive superhero universe for future movies and merchandise. I hope that the companies making awesome movies and fantastic toys and clothes realize that the can do even more because they have a bigger demographic than they originally thought. And I hope this inspires more geek girls to stand up and continue to have a strong and positive voice for inclusion in our community.

You asked participants to dress in costume for the flash mob, which added a fun touch. What does this cosplay aspect of the event mean to you?

Cosplay is such an amazing part of the geek world and the talent and passion of cosplayers is second to none. I wanted to gather as many Black Widow cosplayers as I could to flood the internet with her image to make our message as loud and clear as possible. And what better way to say “Hey, we love Black Widow” than to see tons of women (and possibly some men too) dressed as her character? They are the reason this is all possible.

What’s your favorite thing about Black Widow?

I think her character and story line is so wonderfully complex. Here is a badass super spy who decides to join Avengers and save the universe from evil. It’s unfortunate that Marvel didn’t take the opportunity to develop her character because I think she’s amazing. She’s strong and confident and that’s something we can all aspire to.

What are some of your other favorite geeky media (movies, shows, comics, books, etc.)?

OMG. So. Many. Things. My heart really belongs to science fiction. Basically anything that delves into a world of time travel, alternate realities, robots, or monsters, I have seen it and read it.

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Thanks so much to Kristin for taking the time to answer these questions! We hope the flash mob is a huge success (in fact, we might just have a local branch planned for later today…). Go show Kristin some love on her Facebook page and her site!

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