By Rhiannon Levengood
Photo by RomeyRo Films
One of my absolute favorite television programs is AMC’s The Walking Dead. I’ve been a fan of the show since 2011 and if you’ve never seen it or have no idea what it’s about, I advise you to get on Netflix right now and just give season one a try. Trust me, you’ll be happy that you did.
This isn’t a review of The Walking Dead, though, so I’ll keep my opinions on the horrific season seven premiere to myself.
About four years ago, a group of TWD fans got together, talked with AMC, and started a Kickstarter in order to put on the very first Walker Stalker Convention (WSC). In short, it’s a convention much like Comic Con, but for all things Walking Dead. The founders have coined it a convention that’s “for fans, by fans.” Just like Comic Con, you can find artists, vendors, panels, photo ops, autograph booths, and even cosplayers at WSC. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime to meet your favorite cast members, make new friends, and nerd out on all the zombie apocalypse universes from The Walking Dead comics to Zombieland.
I have personally been to four Walker Stalker Cons now, and each one continuously gets better. However this past weekend, I went for the big one in the heart of where the show takes place: Atlanta, Georgia.
The convention spans from Friday to Sunday, with the last day being the very busiest day. My sister Nikki and I drove into Atlanta on Thursday morning and attended the con for all three days with VIP passes.
The very first day of the convention is the most uneventful one. Many of the cast members are still filming in Senoia, Georgia. Nikki and I used Friday to get a physical feel of the convention floor so that Saturday and Sunday would run a lot smoother as our schedules were packed with photo ops.
Day two was extremely busy. While my sister went to Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s (Negan) panel, I went to Emily Kinney’s (Beth Greene) photo op. After that, we had photo ops for JDM and Austin Amelio (Dwight), and then we could finally breathe. Our break between pictures brings me to my first shining moment.
I’ve met Emily Kinney multiple times before. I’m not only a fan of her acting, but I adore her music as well. She is one of the few cast members that I follow very closely, so any opportunity to talk with her is one that I will take. So, naturally I hop into her autograph line for a signed picture and a selfie.
She’s always very sweet, but reserved, coming off shy and awkward. She kindly personalized a birthday gift to my dear friend and then waited patiently as my phone froze right before taking a picture with her. We shared a laugh over our conspiracy that Apple sends bugs to older phones, making people go out and buy their newest models, and finally took our selfie when Snapchat loaded.
Nikki and I had one more photo op before we retired to Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s autograph line for the night. We entered his VIP line at around 4 pm, right before the volunteers cut the lines off, but we didn’t leave the convention until 8 pm. Even with VIP passes, which gets us ahead of the general admission line, we had a 4 hour wait. The convention ended at 7, and Jeffrey stayed until at least 10 pm signing for his fans.
He was as genial as ever. He smiled brightly at each and every fan, signed their things, answered questions, thanked them, and finally hugged them. Every single one. Even across the table, his hugs were warm and enveloping, like a sweater. A cozy snuggle to end a perfect day.
Sunday was full of significant moments, the first being a selfie with Michael Cudlitz (Abraham Ford) photobombed by Scott Wilson (Hershel Greene).
After Cudlitz’s line, we went into Christian Serratos’s (Rosita Espinosa) line. As we waited, I told my sister that I planned on asking Christian what lipstick she was wearing during The Talking Dead the week before because it was such a gorgeous color and texture. The moment I greeted her, she gasped and asked me what lipstick I was wearing. I thought it was hilarious and we both laughed when I explained that I was going to ask the same thing. She was wearing Kylie Jenner’s lip kit, and I’m not sure of the shade, but I’m guessing it was Kourt K. And I was wearing Katy Perry’s Katy Kat Matte, shade Cosmo Kitty.
My final and most memorable instance came with our Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) and Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) photo op. I don’t get starstruck often. The last time I remember being completely starstruck was meeting Norman Reedus the first time. But seeing Rick Grimes in the flesh with only a few inches between us really hit me hard. I felt like a babbling idiot as I said my hellos to each of them and placed myself on Andy’s left.
I was all smiles, a cheese fest as the flash blinded us. The four of us exchanged our words of gratitude and as I left, Norman held out a hand for me to shake. Our eyes met, he thanked me and called me sweetheart; and I looked around for the cameras because I was sure this entire moment was straight out of a movie. The whole weekend was straight out of a movie.
You can read my full, unedited recount here.