Last week's San Diego Comic-Con saw a welcome change to Hall H, a domain usually reserved for white nerds. This time, Yvette Nicole Brown and Aisha Tyler both hosted Hall H panels, including Brown moderating panels for M. Night Shyamalan's Glass, the Halloween reboot, and the coveted Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead panel vacated by Chris Hardwick, who recused himself after accusations of sexual abuse against his ex-girlfriend, Chloe Dykstra, surfaced. With these actresses taking on hosting duties, Comic-Con is finally becoming more welcoming to marginalized superfans.
"I am overjoyed to see that so many nerds of color, especially women, are getting a chance to shine on the main stage at Comic-Con, but I don't see it as new," said Brown in an email to the Los Angeles Times. "I've been blessed to attend Comic-Con as a panelist since my series Community made its debut back in 2009."
Brown has moderated panels on Comic-Con before, but this year marked her debut on Comic-Con's biggest stage. The convention could also been seen as a coronation of sorts for Brown, who will also entrench herself even further in the nerdosphere when she takes over another of Hardwick's former Walking Dead duties, hosting AMC's The Walking Dead Season 9 Preview Special on August 5 and the franchise's aftershow, The Talking Dead, starting August 12 with the return of Fear the Walking Dead.
Tyler, who hosted SyFy's The Great Debate panel in Hall H and was initially the only woman of color to host a Hall H panel before this year, said that despite her opinion that Comic-Con moderator diversity is getting better, "it's definitely not a watershed moment right now."
"The fact that I'm hosting a Hall H panel and there are a couple of other women that are moderating panels this year is an indication there is an uptick. I haven't taken an encyclopedic look at everyone that's moderating this year (but)...I think it's changing for sure, but it's incremental," she said to the Times while en route to the convention.
Tyler said that Comic-Con and the culture that goes with it has been largely thought of as a "white male domain," but now she's seeing more women and people of color, making a more authentic picture of nerd and gamer culture in America. Brown also discussed nerd culture's diversity.
"What I know for sure is that there is no color or gender when it comes to being a fan," she wrote in an email. "Fandom is a great equalizer. It provides an opportunity for everyone to dream...and celebrate the entertainment and genres they love. It's a gift to be welcomed every year. I am so grateful that our voices are an integral part of the tapestry."