Crowd at FanX welcomes controversial actress Gina Carano with cheers and adoration

The Saturday panel was packed with fans paying avid attention; the actress thanked them for creating a “super safe space.”

(Bethany Baker | Salt Lake Tribune) Gina Carano, an actress from The Mandalorian television series, speaks on a panel during FanX at Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023.

“I love you, Gina,” an echoed yell rang out in the Grand Ballroom at the Salt Palace Convention Center as actress Gina Carano, wearing a black hat, took to her seat.

Moments later, across the ballroom, another fan yell echoed, “I love her more.”

The cries are indicative of the general excitement people had to see Carano and others speaking on the Saturday afternoon spotlight Q&A panel at FanX, which featured Carey Jones, Katee Sackoff and Daniel Logan. (All of them are involved in “Star Wars” productions.)

The Q&A guidelines shown before the panel began instructed that no questions on politics should be asked. The guidelines are shown before every panel, but were especially relevant during this one.

In 2021, Carano was fired from “The Mandalorian” and dropped by her talent agency after making comments on social media.

In one post that was deleted, she compared the political climate in the United States to that of experiences of Jewish people during the Holocaust. She also mocked the use of preferred pronouns, and shared misinformation in 2020 about voter fraud and COVID-19.

When FanX announced in August that Carano was scheduled to attend, reaction on social media was swift and angry, with accusations that FanX organizers were deleting comments from trans-rights supporters.

Event organizers posted a message on the FanX Instagram account: “While we invite you to express your feelings towards any guest announcement, attacking other commenters in the comment section will be hidden and/or deleted, as well as anything vulgar.”

FanX co-founder Dan Farr told The Salt Lake Tribune that when it comes to booking panelists or guests for the convention, “I never ever want anyone to feel diminished or like they’re not valued. … By no means when we book guests, do we look at somebody and say, ‘Ooh, this person is on this side of the spectrum, therefore we’re saying that we agree with what they said or what may be perceived as what that person is like.’”

The convention, Farr said, generally doesn’t get involved with what a guest does, or doesn’t do, on social media.

(Bethany Baker | Salt Lake Tribune) From left, The Mandalorian television series actors Daniel Logan, Katee Sackoff, Gina Carano and Carey Jones speak on a panel during FanX at Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023.

However, Carano’s attendance didn’t seem to be an issue. In fact, the audience generally seemed to be excited to see Carano and the other guests. Several thanked her for attending.

One attendee who asked a question first said, “Gina, I respect how you stand up for what you believe in. Katie, what is your most controversial opinion?”

Sackoff responded by saying, “I believe that it is my right to raise my child the way I want to raise my child. Everybody else is allowed to have their own opinion about how they raise their kid, I don’t know why it’s controversial.”

Another attendee asked the panelists “what they do to stay grounded in this industry?”

Carano, quipped, “Get canceled” in response, and the entire audience roared with laughter.

In a longer answer, she said life has lows and highs, learning to maintain a balance is what she said helps her.

“As long as you have hope in your heart, a vision and a dream, you can always be shooting for something,” Carano said. “Nobody can take that away from you, not an industry, Hollywood or bullies ...”

“One of the easiest ways to stay humble and kind is to realize that we have careers because of you guys and giving our time at conventions is our way of thanking you for showing up,” Sackoff added.

Carano, who said this was her first experience being on stage at a panel, also spoke about how she felt about FanX.

“These are some of the kindest people I’ve met,” she said of FanX crowds. “I feel like we all protect each other, it’s a super safe space where we can laugh, cry and joke ... so I will be coming back.”

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