Legendary African-American Actress Pam Grier Named Celebrity Guest for Third Spa-Con in Hot Springs Sept. 21 – 23
Pam Grier, who became a superstar in what were known as “Blaxploitation” movies in the 1970s and 1980s, will be a celebrity guest at the Third Annual Spa-Con multi-genre comics and pop culture convention in Hot Springs September 21 – 23.
Spa-Con fans may know her best for her recent role in the hit science fiction series Smallville, but she is also famous for her award-winning role in Jackie Brown, Quentin Tarrantino’s homage to the “Blaxploitation” movie genre.
“Hot Springs is honored to welcome Ms. Grier to our convention,” said Bill Solleder, marketing director for Visit Hot Springs and one of the founders of Spa-Con. “She will certainly be a stellar addition to Spa-Con 3.”
Grier was one of eight special guests announced today by Spa-Con organizers. She joins Sean Maher, star of the hit movie “Serenity” and the TV series “Arrow,” Arvell Jones, a renowned illustrated for Marvel Comics, and Nightingale Vixen, the well-known cosplay performer, who were announced previously as guest celebrities for the convention.
Chief among the other celebrities announced today is Veronica Taylor, a voice actress who is the voice of Ash Ketchum from Pokemon. She also is the voice of other notable animated characters including April O’Neil from the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series and Sailor Pluto in the Viz Media dub of Sailor Moon. Taylor has also narrated audio books by authors such as Judy Blume, Danielle Steele, Mary Kay Andrews and others.
Pam Grier, a native of Winston-Salem, N.C., was discovered by director Jack Hill, who cast her in his women-in-prison films The Big Doll House (1971), and The Big Bird Cage (1972). She became a staple of early 1970s “Blaxploitation” movies, playing big, bold, assertive women, beginning with Jack Hill’s Coffy (1973), in which she plays a nurse who seeks revenge on drug dealers. Her character was advertised in the trailer as the “baddest one-chick hit-squad that ever hit town!”
Grier subsequently played similar characters in the AIP films Foxy Brown (1974), Friday Foster and Sheba, Baby (both 1975).
She acquired progressively larger character roles in the 1980s, including a prostitute in Fort Apache the Bronx (1981), a witch in Something Wicked this Way Comes (1983), and Steven Seagal’s detective partner in Above the Law (1988). She made guest appearances on Miami Vice, Martin, Night Court, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and had a recurring role in the TV series Crime Story between 1986 and 1988. She also appeared on Sinbad, Preston Chronicles, The Cosby Show, The Wayans Brother Show and Mad TV. In 1994, Grier appeared in Snoop Dogg’s video for Doggy Dogg World.
On the stage, she appeared in Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love and won Best Actress in a Play 1984, NAACP Image Award. She went on to Best Awards for Frankie and Johnnie and the Claire De Lune and The Piano Lesson by August Wilson.
In the late 1990s Grier was a cast member of the Showtime series Linc’s. She starred in Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, a film that overtly paid homage to her ’70s “Blaxploitation” movies. In 1997 Grier was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress and by the Screen Actors Guild for Best Actress in a Performance for Jackie Brown.
Other Spa-Con guests announced today include:
- Nipah Dubs, an award-winning cosplayer with over seven years of experience styling wigs, sewing, making props and armor, and promoting the art of cosplay.
- Chad Maupin, a comics and visual artist known for his work developing the brands Fayettechill and Houndstooth Clothing Co.
- David Lasky, a comics and visual artist who will be returning to Spa-Con in September. He made dozens of short comics before collaborating with Frank Young on the historical graphic novels Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song, a comics’ Eisner Award winner in 2013, and Oregon Trail: Road to Destiny.
- Bill Tsutsui, president and professor of history at Hendrix College, who will present a special panel at Spa-Con 2018. He has either written or edited eight books, including Manufacturing Ideology: Scientific Management in Twentieth-Century Japan, Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters and Japanese Popular Culture and Globalization, as well as numerous articles on modern Japanese history.
- Ross Watson, an award-winning game designer and author. He has designed and written for video games, board games, card games, miniature games, and several roleplaying games.
- Yale Stewart, a cartoonist from St. Louis, best known for creating, writing, and illustrating the award-winning webcomic, JL8.
“Altogether, we will have more than two dozen celebrity guests at this year’s Spa-Con,” Solleder said. “We had over 5,000 people in attendance last year.”
Spa-Con, presented by Visit Hot Springs and the Garland County Library, will be held at the Hot Springs Convention Center, with an array of activities that will include laser tag, an escape room, video games, panel discussions, workshops, cosplay contests and interaction with the celebrity guests.