I moved from Calgary, Alberta to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island in 2015 in order to be at the heart of all things L.M. Montgomery. When I heard Megan Follows was going to be a guest at the 2018 Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo, however, I knew I was due for a trip home.
As many of you likely know, Follows played Anne Shirley in the 1985 television miniseries Anne of Green Gables and two of its sequels. More recently, she portrayed Catherine de’ Medici in the television series Reign (2013–2017). She has also appeared in and directed several episodes of the Alberta-based television series Heartland—all in addition to numerous other credits in television, film, and theatre. Needless to say, she is something of a Canadian icon.
So after spending a small fortune on plane tickets and admission to the Expo, I set out to obtain Follows’s autograph, photograph, and a few minutes of her time.
When I arrived at the Expo on the morning of Saturday, April 28, the first thing I did was visit Follows’s table to find out what time she would be signing autographs. Hearing she was expected to arrive shortly, I immediately got into what was already a relatively sizeable line. Although Follows was seated next to Reignco-stars Adelaide Kane and Rachel Skarsten, it seemed to me that most people knew her from Anne of Green Gables. The very first person in line, a young woman dressed as the Wicked Witch of the West, eagerly clutched the DVD she had brought to be signed. The woman directly in front of me, also an Anne fan, was originally from Finland. It was so great to see all these kindred spirits at an event which is generally preoccupied with sci-fi and fantasy culture.
Follows was dressed in a blue jumpsuit, round glasses, and the white cowboy hat she had received at the previous day’s opening ceremonies. She took her time with each attendee, chatting, signing autographs, and taking selfies. Surprised by how nervous I suddenly was, I used this time to rehearse in my head what I wanted to say to her. I wanted to tell her I was a student at the University of Prince Edward Island, that I worked with the L.M. Montgomery Institute and hoped she would consider attending our conference someday. Instead, we ended up discussing the pronunciation of my name (story of my life). Utterly star struck, I forgot everything I wanted to say. I did, however, tell her I was named after the author of a Sesame Streetbook. Smooth, Michaela.
Even though my first interaction with Follows didn’t go exactly as planned, it was still amazing to speak one-on-one with the woman who, for so many people, is the face of Anne Shirley. She signed a still from the miniseries for me and allowed me to take a picture with her. I had a pre-purchased professional photo op with her later that day, but I prefer the candidness of this one.
Earlier in April, I was pleasantly surprised to learn the Expo would be hosting a convention panel on Saturday afternoon specifically dedicated to “Anne of Green Gableswith Megan Follows”—I had mistakenly assumed the organizers would choose to focus exclusively on Follows’s involvement with the more current Reign. The panel was held in the Stampede Corral, the largest venue available for such events, and the crowd in attendance was impressive to say the least.
The forty-five-minute panel began with a short interview between Follows and the moderator, which was followed by questions from the audience. Follows made reference to Montgomery on multiple occasions, passionately attributing the popularity of Anne to the quality of the source material. She spoke graciously of more recent adaptations, including the controversial television series Anne. Other memorable moments included naming Anne of Green Gables: The Musical as her favourite adaptation (other than her own, of course!) and hinting at her willingness to narrate the remainder of the series as audiobooks.
Neither video nor audio recording of the panel was permitted, so what exactly was said will remain between Follows and those of us lucky enough to be in attendance. Suffice it to say that I, as a Montgomery fan first and an adaptations fan second, was more than satisfied.
(Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo/Facebook)