A few years ago, I started this feature, Real Geek Girls, with the goal of showing the world that girls can be geeky. I noticed that there was always some sort of critique of women being geeky and if it was real or just for show. I’m excited to bring this feature back and showcase some more amazing women. Every now and again, I’ll interview a new geek girl and highlight how many of us are out there and how real we all are. We come in all shapes and sizes and love many geeky things. I’m going to continue to show the world that there are real geek girls, and they know as much, if not more than the somehow more revered geek guy.

Meet Ashley Smalls. She’s a geek girl who writes and blogs. You can follow her on Twitter here.

Check out our interview below:

Credit: @broadenurbrain

What does being a geek/nerd mean to you?

I consider being a nerd to mean being passionate about something. Whether you’re a book nerd, sports nerd, fashion nerd, we all have something that we like to geek out about and consider ourselves a nerd for. I think we’re far from the high school stereotypes, and now the term nerd is embraced.

What’s your opinion of women still having to prove their love for something is genuine and not fake?

It’s just plain sexism, and it honestly baffles me. If someone says they’re a fan of something you enjoy, that’s your chance to possibly make a friend. Even if they’re new to a fandom or still learning more about something they enjoy, why would your first instinct be to quiz them instead of telling them about other things they may like too? I think it says a lot about a person if they go into defense mode instead of embracing a fellow fan. You should WANT more people to support something you love. Stop being a gatekeeper.

What are you getting your Ph.D. in, and from what school?

I’m currently getting my Ph.D. in Mass Communications from Penn State University. I look at the intersection of Black Feminism and Nerd Culture in my research. I decided if I’m going to be a nerd, I might as well take it all the way.

When did your love of pop culture begin?

My love of pop culture began when I was about 5 with my mom. We would get up on weekends and watch X-Men cartoons. We both loved Storm. She also bought me my first Harry Potter book, which is when things really became intense. The next thing she knew, I was begging her to buy me a Hogwarts robe and camping out for the new Harry Potter books the day they dropped. She thought it would just be a phase…it was not.

Any role models and heroes in the pop culture world who have influenced you to be so passionate about it? 

I’ve looked up to Beyonce since I was in junior high. There’s a long list of reasons why I admire her, but her work ethic inspires me more than anything. She’s already so naturally talented, but she continues to push herself. She is her only competition, no matter who the music industry tries to compare her to. I try to remind myself not to compare myself to others as well.

Also, Chadwick Boseman. His Black Panther performance was an inspiration for what I hope will be my dissertation though I still have time before I begin to write it. Before he was the Black Panther, he was an actor who used to come to the Schomburg Center in New York and teach kids acting. I hope to give back when I reach my goals the way he did.

Tell us about your blog: The Brooklyn Blerd.

As a Ph.D. student, I do a lot of academic writing. I realized that writing only for academic journals makes a lot of my work inaccessible to other pop culture lovers. The Brooklyn Blerd became my place to write beyond just school. I can do more of my fun writing there, like nerding out about WandaVision or Bernie Sanders mittens. But I also dive into topics like Afrofuturism and explain what it is and its impact on movies like Black Panther and shows like Lovecraft Country. It’s a place where I can have a lot more freedom with my interests than school sometimes allows.

How do you define feminism? 

Well, I would define feminism at its core as equality among the sexes, but I also consider intersectionality. Intersectionality, a term coined by scholar Kimberle Crenshaw, has significantly impacted my work as a Ph.D. student. Intersectional feminism means understanding that women are impacted by their gender and their overlapping identities such as race, class, and sexuality. It means understanding that we don’t experience oppression and discrimination the same way. It has played a part in me remembering my own privileges as well.

Your love of actor Chris Evans shines a lot on your Twitter page, what’s your favorite film of his and favorite role of his? 

Wow. That’s hard. If I have to pick a favorite film, it would have to be Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I don’t care what anyone says; that film is top 5 in the MCU. However, my favorite role from Chris is Knives Out. Seeing him in a bad guy role after playing Captain America for years holds a special place in my heart. Plus…the sweater!

What was it like seeing your Bernie tweet go so viral that it ended up on Good Morning America? 

I’m still in disbelief. I had no idea when I clicked send on that tweet that so many people would relate or find it funny but seeing it on Good Morning America was that “oh, this is bigger than Twitter” moment. I’ve gone viral before but never to that point. My family doesn’t really have social media, but they saw me on TV, so I had to explain what a meme was that day.

What are some of your hobbies that people don’t know you like to do? 

I like reading romance novels. It’s funny because I don’t really like romance content, but I read a book this past summer called The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai, and I’ve been looking for more books like it ever since. I usually read fantasy novels, which probably doesn’t surprise anyone who has met me, but romance is new for me, so I’m open to recommendations.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? 

Teleportation. I’m always running late to things, and that would help immensely.

If you were trapped in an elevator, who would you want to be trapped with you?

That comes down between Beyoncé and Chris Evans. I’d have to go with Chris Evans because the one time I got close to Beyoncé, I cried, so I think I’d do better with Chris. Chris and I would talk about our dogs.

What’s your advice for all the geeky girls out there who are afraid or embarrassed to show off how geeky they are?

Forget them! Do what you’re passionate about! Following your passion will make you much happier than hanging with people who make you feel embarrassed by it. Let them talk. I don’t know where this nerdy path will lead me, but I’m a lot happier now than I was years ago trying to fit in places that weren’t me. Being geeky is a good thing. It means you’ve found something that makes you happy. That’s never something to be embarrassed about.

CREDIT: Teen Vogue
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The Author

Karin Abcarians

Karin Abcarians

Karin Abcarians is an advocate for geek girls everywhere. She runs the REAL GEEK GIRLS and REAL GEEK MOMS features. She's a writer, movie buff, and loves about 45 million shows. She's Captain America's biggest fan. Her alter-ego is BatKarin. Also, she loves Leonardo DiCaprio more than you do.