Found another unicorn! We continue our mission of debunking the fake geek girl stereotype by shining a spotlight on Bridget Isakson (33), another awesome geek in our community. From as early as she can remember, Bridget has loved wearing costumes and she always looks for opportunities to dress up: "When I was little, I used to wear a black evening dress with sparkly heels and ride my big wheels around. I used to really glam it up to go big wheel riding." Not surprisingly, both of her parents love the theater and used to take her to the opera and to Renaissance festivals when she was little, which is one of the reasons that led Bridget to pursue acting. She was part of a children's theater group until she was 13 years old and continued taking acting classes and performing throughout her high school years.
Aside from being a theater geek, Bridget is also a History geek. She loves researching historical facts, especially anything related to the Victorian and Renaissance eras. In fact, her favorite historical figure is the famous Anne Boleyn. Bridget said: "I liked her before she was cool. She is fascinating... We hardly know anything factual about her, but from what little we know she was very unusual for women at her time. She was highly educated and the fact that she rose from the lower ranks to become such an influential person in England, History and religion is amazing. I love her."
When Bridget was 19 years old, she found a way to combine her passion for acting and History by auditioning for the Michigan Renaissance Festival. She said: "I was planning on becoming an actress/singer at the time and I thought joining the festival could be a good way to have that chance." Her first role at the festival was of a middle class woman that refused to be part of an arranged marriage. After her first year at the festival, Bridget's hard work led her character to be promoted to the "Royal Court" where she was the Queen's maid of honor for two years. She admits that working on a Renaissance Festival is a big commitment and a very expensive hobby, so after three years she decided to move on to other things: "Every once in a while I find myself missing it." Even though Bridget stopped working for the Michigan Renaissance Festival, she mentioned that she still goes to it every year to visit friends and she's been recently trying to find other festivals to go to.
While working at the Renaissance Festival, Bridget found another way to continue acting and dressing up through role playing games (RPGs). She was introduced to RPGs through Dungeons & Dragons, which she played for the first time on her 20th birthday. Later she was introduced to online medieval fantasy RPGs by her roommate at the time and eventually met her husband through a live action role playing (LARP) game. She mentioned that one of her favorite characters to play was a socially awkward thief that eventually evolved to be the commander of the ranger division in the story.
Bridget said that she finds people fascinating and that is one of the reasons she loves acting so much. Being able to create characters and their background stories gives her the chance to explore people's psychology and motivations. She explained: "I get to think about what makes my characters be who they are and why they do the things they do. And again, any excuse to put on a costume is good with me."
For Bridget, being a geek is all about being passionate about something and being able to enjoy it even when people are making fun of you: "It can be something that not everyone thinks it’s cool or maybe it is. It can be anything." When she was little, Bridget remembers that kids used to make fun of her because she loved to sing in public. She said: "Teachers would write in my report card “she won’t stop singing in class”. I pretty much lived in a musical." But following her parent's advice, Bridget was always willing to ignore people that were making fun of her. As she explained: "If you rise up to their level you are actually giving them power." In fact, Bridget has every reason to sing in public since she is a great singer and performer. She recently made all of us at Ladies Geeking Out (LGO) proud by having the courage and determination to audition for the TV show "The Voice".
When Bridget joined LGO, she was looking for ways to be more social. She admits that even though she loves to perform and act, she can also be shy: "It took a little bit of courage for me to go to the first event but I never regretted it." Before joining LGO, Bridget mentioned that she sometimes found herself intimidated and in competition with other women. She explained: "I often felt that girls always seemed to be surer of themselves. I also had trouble with my self-esteem because of my weight. I didn’t feel I was pretty or attractive and I felt other girls were so much better than I was. As a result I spent more time with guy friends because I felt they were more willing to see me for what I was and I though they weren’t going to be as judgmental as girls. As time went on, I developed better self-esteem and I’m more comfortable with who I am now. Meeting my husband was a big part of that. It also helps that the members of LGO vary in size, race, and age. That has helped since everyone is always welcoming. This group has definitely changed my perspective of women in general".
Bridget also mentioned that before joining LGO she felt uncomfortable with the definition of feminism, since she thought it was all about women being better than men. She said: "Being in this group has helped open my eyes to the things that people go through in geek culture. My view has changed and I now identify as a feminist with the understanding that is not the same as man-hating." Bridget is a firm believer of equality and one of her role models is the amazing John Barrowman: "I love that he has crossed through so many mediums. He can sing, act, dance, everything. But he also stands for equality and he’s a strong representation for the LGBTQ community. I think he is amazing in that respect."
Bridget is a great example of a woman who is proud to be a geek and is not afraid of sharing her interests and passions with other people. She is always a great source of not only historical facts, but inspiration for the members of LGO since she has demonstrated to all of us that you should never stop pursuing your dreams. She brings humor and grace to all of our events and is always welcoming to everyone in the group. She has a kind heart and a fierce spirit. She is talented, creative, confident, and strong. She is not a unicorn, she exists, and she is absolutely amazing.