Felicia Day Talks Self Help, Her Career & The Therapy of Gaming | Starting Roll

Felicia Day Talks Self Help, Her Career & The Therapy of Gaming | Starting Roll

– Hey y’all welcome to
Starting Roll this week. I am here with, – Felicia Day. – Felicia where would people
have seen some of your work? – [Felicia] They may
have seen me as an actor. I’ve been on Supernatural and back in the day I was on Buffy. – You might know her
from the internet things. – Oh yeah, I did The Guild,
and TableTop and The Flog, and a ton of them, way too many. – But today, we’re gonna be talkin about a board game called, – [Both] Small World. (upbeat music) – Hey Felicia. – Hello. – Welcome to Starting Roll. – Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here. – Here we are, talkin’ about board games and nerdom things. – I mean I think I’m pretty well versed in those things.
– [James] I think so too. – I think I can hang on.
– I think so. You’ve got a lot going on. You’ve got a podcast goin’. You’re releasing another book.
– [Felicia] Yep. – What else? I mean you’ve got a
whole litany of things. – Yes I’m working on a
buncha writing projects I can’t talk about. Acting project coming up
that I can’t talk about. And then I’m doing all
this press for the book, which I’m excited about. But it is like, yeah, I need to sleep. – Well what’s the book about? I means it’s a– – Oh yeah, it’s called “Embrace
Your Weird: Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity”. So I don’t know about you,
if you’ve done any self-help books in your life, but
they’ve really gotten me through some tough times in my past. And I was kinda like, as
I was kind of emerging from kind of being in a
cocoon for a little while, I was like, oh let’s do one
of those self-help books. And yet they didn’t
really connect with me, because they were, there’s
a lotta spirituality, a lot of new agey stuff,
a lotta lecturey stuff, and I was like, ah this is not my style. So I was like, I’ll just write my own. So I wanted to do like a
funny, geeky, quirky version of a self-help book
that would help people, you know just be more creative in life. But also overcome things like anxiety, and procrastination, and fear of failure. All this stuff that holds me back, that I’ve like learned how to get over. And I’m like well. In writing the book, I’m a better person. So hopefully, if somebody reads it, they’ll be a better person too. – Yeah that’s, one of the things
I’ve never really connected with on self-help books,
there’s a lotta platitudes, there’s a lotta like meme-type moments, but there’s not a lotta like meat. Okay cool, you’ve got me motivated, but what do I actually do? – That is exactly what I, yeah. So the presence of my
book is very much like, I hate to say this, and I can say this ’cause this is really a
nerd show, so thank god, I can really take the gloves off. Basically you’re building
your character as an RPG. (dramatic music) The whole book is like, you kinda enter and you justify like
why I need creativity, ’cause if you don’t know why
you’re not gonna do it right. That may be important, like
I gotta brush my teeth. And then it’s like
rebuilding your character from the ground up. So like examining your
past and your present. Making your history and like finding, what is my class? What do I wanna say to the world? What kind of creator, and
what kind of creations do I wanna make? And then there’s a whole
section where it’s like, okay, you’re suited up, you
gotta go take down your enemies. And there’s like lotsa
pictures, like you know, of hydras and unicorns and stuff in there, ’cause you know, Felicia Day. And then at the end, it’s
just how to train yourself up. How to get to a goal. How to make your quest
to get out into the world and actually make this thing happen. – You’re here in L.A.,
but you’re from Alabama. – [Felicia] I know we have that in common. You have a bigger accent than I do. – Roll Tide. – I was, my family was
Auburn fans, I’m so sorry. Is this bad– – We’re done. Wrap it. (tone beeps) So being a nerd in Alabama,
not the easiest thing, right? Deep south, Bible belt. – You know I was home
schooled, so I really wasn’t, I wasn’t shunned by my peers. – Sure. – For anything until I became an adult. So I was kinda raised
in sort of a green house of nerdom, and I just
did whatever I wanted. And I wasn’t like a, I was
really into all different things. I was a classical
ballerina, I played violin, I loved math and science, and I loved also romance books, and like
Detective Moore books, you know like old-school,
like Mickey Spillane and you know Ellery
Queen and all that stuff. So I was able to just love what I love, in sort of a vacuum. And I think that there were
some great things about that, but there were some bad things, ’cause when I got in the
real world I was like, oh I’m not normal. (James laughs) (Psycho music)
– Hi everyone. – Exactly. And I just was like, oh
should I cover this up? And I was like, nah, ’cause this is me. So I guess it was good
’cause I was strong enough in who I was that I wasn’t abandoned. Because I think that’s what
a lotta people go through. Oh I guess I have to stop doin’ this ’cause people aren’t supporting me, or they’re judging me for it. And that makes me sad. That’s like my mission in life. I wanna shore people’s self-confidence up to be who they are. ‘Cause honestly, you’re the
only person who can be you. So why are we like, let’s stop being me, to be something that somebody
else will approve of? Doesn’t make any sense. – You’re right. It feels like that’s the
pressure that you feel, like I need to fit in. – [Felicia] Yeah.
– Yet we wanna be unique. – Well I don’t, I think
there’s a very strange thing, especially with kids, as they grow up, there is this pressure to
conform to fit in with the group. And it’s sort like this,
I don’t know what it is, if it’s biological, or
it’s just peer pressure and things like that. All I know is it forces a
lot of kids, especially girls to abandon things that
they might be drawn toward. And it really makes me upset inside. Because no one should betray who they are. Because you’re right,
as we get outta those kinda closed, controlling environments, the things that will makes
us different, and soar, and happy, are the things
that do make us stand out, our uniquenesses, our weirdnesses. So like why should you go
through your formative years abandoning those things, when
you could be cultivating them. – Sure. I feel like the last, I dunno, 10 years, geek culture has kinda
become more mainstream. I don’t know if that
was The Big Bang Theory, or like what is exactly
the root cause of it, but it’s okay now to be a geek. It’s okay to be a nerd. So I think it’s a lot
easier for the generation, like my son, right, I’m
cultivating him to be a nerd. That’s just the way it is right. Like, hey buddy, your dad designs and publishes board games. You’re gonna be a nerd. – Great. – So it’s fun to see people
have more room to be themselves. – [Felicia] Yeah. – And kinda even sounds
like your books are even, like you’re really pushing
people in that direction, right? – Oh for sure. I mean in everything I do. I wrote a memoir couple years ago called “You’re Never Weird on
the Internet Almost”. And the reason I wrote this new book, is because people would come
up to me and they’re like, hey I saw your journey
of being like this weird home schooled kid, to like
going to college way too early, to making videos in your garage, to becoming this sort of
very prominent person, in this world that I
didn’t even know about. And people would say, hey I
started creating because of you. And I started getting help
from anxiety because of you. And like, I dunno, I make things because I came to Hollywood to be an actor, you know I wanted to be
successful as an actor. But when you can see
the direct correlation between your work and how
it affects somebody else, that’s what really always
touches me and motivates me. And so I just wanted to make a book that kinda put it into
the hands of other people. It was just more about them than me. Because I talk plenty about myself. (both laugh) – We get that a lot in
makin’ a board game too. When you see someone snappin’ a selfie with them and their family
around the board game, you’re like, you just had an hour session of playin’ our game and we
facilitated fun for your family. – That’s so awesome. – It is a very similar, I
feel like, feeling of like, knowing that you helped make that happen. – Yeah. – Can I, is nice segue
to Small World right? As in we’re talkin’ about
like why is this game here, and for you this one of the
first games that you played that really brought strategic board games, Euro, German-style type board games to the table for you, right? – Yeah so, I picked this game, because it was the first
episode of TableTop. And TableTop was a show that I created with my friend Will Wheaton, that featured people playing board games. And it’s that simple. And how that show came
about is that I pitched a whole slate of web series to YouTube, back in like 2012 or something like that, and they were funding
all these businesses. And I was like here are
the shows I wanna do. And I had to call all
my friends to be like, what should I put in front of them? And I thought of my friend Will, because he was in my show The Guild. And also when we went to
conventions over the years, I would see him disappear
and play these board games with his friends. I’m like, well that wasn’t my thing, but I saw how much fun he was having. And so I called him up,
and I initially wanted him to DM something, ’cause I love D&D, but he was like, no let’s do board games. And then, we’ll do this,
and we’ll play every week, and then we’ll show
everybody how to play it, and he got so excited,
I was like, oh jackpot. ‘Cause if somebody’s
excited about something that’s what you need in web video, right? – Right. – And so the show kind of evolved into these sort of celebrities playing, you know these board games. And quite frankly, this
wasn’t my world necessarily. Like I had played board
games throughout my life. I had Life, and Monopoly, and Candyland, and Chutes and Ladders. I had the standard sort
of Hasbro thing, you know. Not a big deal. But I’d never been exposed
to the more intricate ones. And so, when I saw this first game, and I saw the edit come
in, I was just hooked. I was not only hooked
because I love strategies and this is like the perfect, very simple, but very appealing strategy game. But also I just saw the fun that everyone was having together. And I was like I love playing video games, but board games seems like
they’re connecting people for real and this is awesome. So it opened the door for me,
not only producing that show, like dozens and dozens
of episodes of that show, branching off into other games,
like Magic: The Gathering, and other, D&D, and all those things, but it also just incorporated
gaming in my life on a regular basis. I started having weekly
game nights with my friends. You know we had just so
much more fun together, because we had this vehicle
to help get us together. – Well you know TableTop
was, and I’ve seen this common thread amongst a lot board gamers. I am a part of the renaissance
of board gaming right. ‘Cause I was Warcraft, my
friends reached out to me, said hey come play board games
whether we play Monopoly. We don’t play Monopoly, come play. I played a game and then I
went through the rabbit hole of board games, right. And TableTop is one the first things, like after I Power Grid,
and the Spartacus game, you play and you’re like,
well lemme learn more games, I found TableTop. And it is, it was one
of those things where, it taught me games,
because I wanted to know if it was a game that I would like, but then it was so entertaining. I still remember, Cards
Against Humanity, Aisha Tyler. – She’s really funny. – [James] Is the most hilarious human. – [Felicia] She’s incredible. – [James] I’ve watched that
episode for fun many times. Just because it’s just so good. – It was a really important part, and because I think it
was actually an advantage for Will and me to kinda work on the show, ’cause he is deep in it. You know he’s played for his whole life. Not only on a casual level,
but just like he knows it all, inside out, he has a
passion for board games. And that what really
was the infection vector that made the show successful. Nobody else could have
hosted that show right? – Well I think there’s a question that I think everybody
wants to ask about TableTop, what is the future of TableTop? Is there any more episodes coming? What’s happening there? – Yeah, so I left my company in 2017, because I was having a child and I really just wanted to
focus on my creative stuff, but I really wasn’t able
to do the creative stuff that I really wanted to do, within the confines
– Like The Flog. Yeah, like The Flog. If I had just only been doing
The Flog that would be fine. But I was kinda turning
into sort of administrator. And like it just wasn’t
as fulfilling for me. And so having this big force coming in and sucking all my time up,
in the name of my child, I was like, what do I have to get rid of to really be happy as a person. And I needed creativity,
I needed to create things of my own, and I needed
to raise my baby, right? – And so that kinda
forced me to step aside from that company. Because Will and I are a tight team, he did not wanna do the show without me. And so, that was just kind
of a decision that he made. Would I rule out one
day TableTop coming back in some form, I can’t, ’cause I would love to work with Will again. But there are a lot of logistical things that would have to happen. And yeah I do miss it. – So there’s also, in the name
of you creating all things and being busy doing all
things, you do a podcast. – Yes I do a podcast which is like, that’s part of my creative
itch being scratched, scratch, scratch. Yeah it’s called Voyage to the Stars. It’s a improvised science fiction podcast. And me an Colton Dunn from Superstore, and Janet Varney from Legend of Korra, and my friend Steve Berg,
who was in Dr. Horrible with me back in the day. And Kirsten Vangsness from Criminal Minds, is joining us this season. And it’s basically we improv. We have like an outline for a story and we kinda know where a
beginning and end in a scene is, and then we all just make up dialogue. And so it’s like this really awesome rejoining of forces, creatively, and yet I get to be
kind of a creative force instead of just behind the scenes. It’s just, you know, my whole
thing about web video was I had a playground. And I just made, if I had an impulse, like I love Magic: The Gathering, let’s make a show on magic. I had the people around
me to make it possible and then I brought in celebrities
who were friends of mine to be on there to get more
eyeballs on this thing I loved. And so there isn’t that
really on the web anymore. But in podcast form you can do that. And so it’s our playground and I hope to make more stuff
like that in the future. – Well it’s funny you’re
a serial content creator. Like you’re everywhere making– – I won’t stop I’m so sorry. – [James] I mean it’s what
you’re motivated to do right? – I just have to be making something. I have to be creating or I
feel dead inside and sad. – Dead and sad, nobody
wants to be dead and sad. (upbeat music) There is some sort of
crossover there between playing board games and
having that connection with the people at the table
and creating content, right. – [Felicia] Oh sure yeah. – You walk away with this feeling of, like you said earlier, we were
strangers we were awkward, I still got a show that I
wanna make, I’m gonna ahead and pitch my show to
you and to the internet. – Okay great. – I wanna do kind of Anthony Bourdain-ish where I travel around, and I
go up to a complete stranger, and I’m like, can I teach
you this board game. – [Felicia] Oh that’s a good idea. – And then we, like to be
able to physically show, we went from awkward, and someone goin’, that sounds weird, no or
maybe, and then we play it. And then by the end see
the change that happens over that hour of playing a board game. – That’s really a cool idea. I like it. – All right, well. (audience cheering)
– Someone green light it. I don’t have a company anymore. – One of the biggest
things about this show, like the whole point we
started Starting Roll was we needed a platform
to screen board games. We want you to play these. A we make them, we’d love if you buy them. That keeps the lights on. – Well to me you’re helping
independent creators. You’re supporting a person who has created who has a vision and just
needs some help right. That’s what, when got like statistics back from like TableTop or
whatever, and it like, sales would go like 900%,
or 9,000% even sometimes. It just made me so happy
because I knew it was person in another state, who was just tryin’ to make somethin’ they loved, that isn’t appreciated by everybody and then more people can appreciate that. That really just feels neat. – It’s like people that host the mystery dinner murder parties. – [Felicia] Yeah, yeah. – People wanna go to those things, they just don’t know
how to facilitate them. – How to get in there. – So I hope that this show
and shows like TableTop. If you haven’t watched
TableTop, you should go back and watch all those episodes,
because you’ll find a game, you’ll find the interaction at the table, it’ll fit your group. – Yeah you’ll find something
that’s your flavor. Yeah everyone’s like, I
dunno my wife or my brother doesn’t like board games,
I’m like try bah, bah, bah. Like entry-level kind of stuff. – Oh we do this like 20 questions. What do you enjoy doing
in your spare time? – Oh it’s like a personality quiz. – Do you like Sudoku? Do you like reading books? If you like narratives there
is a board game for you. – No because it’s not, well you know, it’s like anything niche,
like that’s why I wrote The Guild in the first place,
because I love video games, I love gaming online with
people, and yet Hollywood and general media shows
us one kind of gamer. And I was like, oh no,
no, no, just because this is a niche thing doesn’t mean there’s one kind of person
who likes this thing. So for board games, most
people’s entry point is just that one kind
of very commercial game. Which is great, but like,
just like I only knew about Monopoly, and Life,
and all these other things, when you get in there they’re like, oh there’s a different
kinds of different flavor. It’s like telling somebody
the ice cream shop has two ice creams chocolate and vanilla. And then you go into
a gelato shop in Italy and you’re like, ♪ Oh pistachio. ♪ (James laughs) – Exactly. Or like seein’ Joe
Manganiello, big beefcake dude, he’s a huge nerd D&D guy. – Exactly, he’s really into it. He could beat you up. – It was a big Twitter thing
this past a little bit, because there was some wrestler, I think, talked trash about, I don’t play D&D. – Oh I saw that guy. – And Joe Manganiello
posted a picture of himself with his shirt off, and I do. I was like yah!. – That’s pretty great.
That’s pretty great. I saw that guy. I was like trash. Trash that guy. – Trash that guy. But I think there is connections there that we can help people find
the board game that fits them. And they’ll find a new way to interact with their family, their friends. – Yeah, any excuse to get offline. I mean as somebody who lives all my world, it’s just like a little bit ironic, but any excuse to really
have face-to-face connection with people and kind of
strengthen those ties with the people who are
immediately around you. I think it’s just
healthier, you’re gonna be. And so yeah, it’s nice to
have 1,000 Facebook friends, but have those eight people that are in your board game group and have that consistent,
even if it’s once a month or something, that’s
gonna make you a happier, more well-rounded person, I think. – I mean even moving here,
going back to your point. We had a parent PTA thing at
our new school for Burbank. And we roll out and I see this parent, this guy wearing a D&D shirt. And I was like bee line, I
know who I’m goin’ to talk to. I was like, hi I’m James, I love D&D too. – Oh that’s so amazing. – And he’s like, hi I’m Ted. And you’re just like boom,
now we’re up and running. – Are your kids in the same school, grade. – No, unfortunately no. But we still set up a, when
I said I make board games, he was like, shut up. You do not.
So it was just fun right. – [Felicia] Oh that’s so great yeah. – But yeah, can we just all
wear board game nerd shirts. – We should all just wear
a shirt with what we like. Oh wait, we all do that. – [James] Wait, that is a thing already. – Yeah that is a thing. – If you have a way to tell
the person that’s watching this to be their most authentic
self, really to bring this back full circle to your initial conversation, what is the one thing
that you wanna tell ’em? – I mean I guess I would tell people to, I mean you gotta brandish
your weirdnesses. Like they’re your super powers. So wear them on your sleeve, because like we’re talking about, if you wear your weirdness on a sleeve, yes some people who don’t
get might go away from you, but like we said, if somebody sees that and that’s their type of weird, you’re gonna have an instant friend. So really it does help,
it helps you assimilate with the right people. The people who will accept
you for who you are. And then you’ll feel strong enough, without those other people to kind get even the people who may
not of understood it in on the group. So I guess that’s my thing. – I like that idea. – Yeah I just feel like too many times we abandon the things
that make us different, but what makes us different is really what makes us stand
out and most happy in life. – I like the idea that if we group up with the people that like
the thing that we like, we can resonate enough that
people who are just passing by will be like, what’s that
thing, can I try that thing? And you’re like yes, come try the thing. – It’s really putting
the platform out there. I mean I guess 20 years
ago when it was like, the super hero movies,
super heroes were like very marginal right? And then somebody decided
to make these awesome moves and everyone’s like that’s awesome. And now how much easier is
it for a kid to be like, I love Spiderman and I
wanna go buy comics right? So you just have to give
a platform to something and an entry point. And then you can, you
know people really bloom. – Love it, love it. So if people wanna follow the Felicia Day, where can they follow you
at on, all the things? – People can follow me
anywhere @FeliciaDay. – Well thanks for joining
us, and I think we need to, I need to run some rat man
over there towards your elves. – No, no I will not. That’s my elf voice. – My rat voice is– – I feel like we’re rat on elf, this is the perfect like over
population for this game. (logo explodes)

Comments (11)

  1. Thanks for watching everyone! With this being the last episode of this season, who would you like us to interview for Season 2?! We'd love any recommendations!

  2. Thanks for having me on! Love what you do!!!!

  3. We were just watching "The Magicians" the other night and it was so cool to see Felicia Day as a badass semi-villain! But I hope James taught her to say "roll tide"

  4. Thank you for this!!

  5. Great interview! Voyage to the Stars is a lot of fun, and looking forward to your mystery acting gig.

  6. Thank you for asking the question! Table top was wonderful and I know things happen and change, but Felicia is wonderful and honest such a great person.

  7. War Eagle! Hope you enjoyed the iron bowl this year James 😉

  8. James, i have epic beard envy…and that mohawk deal going on…in fact my beard envy leveled up. There was chip tone video game music and everything. Love this game too! Felicia is awesome as always.

  9. I came here thinking I was going to watch a board game video, and found something pretty awesome….but still want to watch a board game with two or more awesome people.

  10. Great Episode! Love this show and this episode was killer.

  11. James, I would watch the SNOT out of your board games w strangers show!

Comment here