Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a Jedi. Watching Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi representing all the heroism, strength, and determination of a real hero would be where my journey started so long ago.
In a state far, far away.
Born in New Mexico on the road with my father. My father Joe Jama is a musician and my initial years were spent on the road with his band on tour.
Don’t ask if I remember any of this because eventually I had to go to school and we settled down in San Antonio, TX just before I was 5.
So it seems I lived in a lot of hotels I have no memory of but the thing I do remember is Star Wars.
I remember walking into a matinee of the Original Trilogy just as our heroes were boarding the Falcon. (80’s kids will remember that getting to a movie theater before the movie started just wasn’t a priority in those days.) I remember getting the rancor and a speeder bike for what I think was my 5th birthday.
I remember watching Jedi and Empire over and over on a VHS tape my father recorded off of HBO. It also had some of A New Hope up until the Battle of Yavin (those tapes could only fit so much.) I remember drawing giant pictures of space battles with TIE fighters, X-Wings, Y-Wings, Interceptors, A-Wings, B-Wings, and the Death Star all in little kid stick versions. I remember reading the read-along book with the cassette tape, playing outside and finding a nice stick to swing around like a lightsaber.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is my journey has been long.
I began training in martial arts because of Luke. Of course, my dad followed that up with Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and Van Damme movies.
Hey, I did say it was the 80’s.
I took Tae Kwon Do for a short time. Classes are expensive so I didn’t last too long but I kept visiting the school to watch, then go home and practice what I saw. I also found books and movies and practiced everything I could. By the time I was in High School I was a pretty decent Ninja (which my research has proven is the closest thing to a Jedi on Earth.) My friends and I were pretty much building climbers in a time before parkour.
I was also very interested in music. I was the guy in school who had all the Star Wars soundtracks and the SCORE from the Crow and stuff. Not to mention Metallica and playing guitar all the time.
Back then all we had to keep us going was Dark Empire, The Thrawn Trilogy, and some Tales of the Jedi. I was there to see some pretty cool stuff. Exar Kun wielding a double bladed saber long before Maul would brandish his.
Thrawn performing a Marg Sabl maneuver before Ahsoka at Ryloth.
Jaster Mereel, Jodo Kast, Ulic Qel-Droma, and of course Dash Rendar.
Then Lucas came back.
And he gave us three more movies to complete his saga. I was there at midnight my senior year watching The Phantom Menace. I remember thinking about how badass the movie was. I loved, Qui-Gon, Padme, and Maul. We came out the theater doing flips off walls in the alley we were so excited.
(Remember I did say we were ninjas.)
Fast forward past leaving Texas, Central Casting work, and my metal band.
Then I met Liz.
I found someone beautiful to spend my life with.
And never looked back.
So what do you do with the ones you love?
And I shared what I loved best of all.
Liz and I watched the movies together, I bought Lizzy Galactic Heroes to play with.
Then Axel showed up.
And our Star Wars jumped up to the next level. Axel LOVED the Gendy Clone Wars miniseries and used to watch it every day. Axel dressed like a Clone for Halloween and swung around his saber toys.
Then we found Saber Guild.
I was doing a stunt show with the EMC Monkeys and I saw dudes with custom lightsabers doing saber shows. I knew they were custom because as a man who has long wished for a Quinlan Vos saber I was disappointed at finding nothing but Vader, Luke, and Obi-Wan sabers.
After a bit of talk it was actually Liz who was interested in joining. They wanted more girls in Saber Guild and Liz wanted to involve the family in charity.
So join we did.
I completed my Vos and Liz made an Aayla Secura costume. We also got some little Jedi costumes for the kids. We did lots of events, shows, and practices.
Through our involvement with Saber Guild we came to meet the other fan groups. Liz and I joined up with Rebel Legion. We loved being involved, doing some good, and doing it together. The kids weren’t really old enough to become official members but we were able to include them into a few Saber Guild shows and troop with them as much as possible.
Then we were introduced to some new characters. From a new show. The Clone Wars had ended too soon but Star Wars Rebels was coming. My wife and son immediately jumped on their characters. It took a little bit of convincing from Tracy Cannobbio to finally talk me into Kanan but once I was in, I was all in.
We had never really done costumes as a group. Yeah, we were all Jedi but this would be the chance to really be a group together. And from what we had seen the crew was kind of a family.
It made sense. So we set to work.
I was working with little to no references, pulling every screenshot, render, and concept from those “meet the character” videos I could. We had a deadline. Wondercon 2014. We could be the Rebels and visit the panel and the kids would be so happy. Sewing. I used to suck at sewing. I still do, but I used to too. I always check for my materials at the thrifts store first. finding used clothing that is usually already used looking and broken in works for me. I watched some Evil Ted tutorials and learned to make armor out of foam. We worked on 4 costumes simultaneously. Kanan, Ezra, Sabine, and Hera. It all came down tot he wire but we did it. Looking back I wish I had done a bit better on my Kanan armor but hey, it looks much better now.
We were dressed to go and showed up early to try to get in the Rebel Legion picture. While posing for the pic a woman yelled “Hey Kanan!” I looked over to see Vanessa Marshall who had just taken a photo with the 501st Legion. I frantically tried to get Lizzy’s attention (dressed as Hera at the time) only to be too late.I remember thinking aw man, that was a good chance for Lizzy to meet Vanessa Marshall.
I’m glad that although we did miss that chance we eventually met her and she’s been very kind to us ever since!
We ran into Filoni, and Plunkett on the floor and were invited to see the panel. By then we found out that our photo had gone out on the Star Wars twitter. We went to the panel were invited onstage and Filoni told us “I hope you guys like the show.”
It was pretty crazy.
And yes. We do like the show.
We like it a lot.
It has become the kids Star Wars.
Things are a bit different now.
I’m a member of Saber Guild, Rebel Legion, and The 501st Legion. Because of people I’ve met at that Wondercon I’m now a cohost on Now This is Podcasting as well as a contributor to MakingStarWars.net. My wife and I were lucky enough to attend The Force Awakens World Premiere which was a once in a lifetime event that we will remember forever.
Our costumes have been updated and improved bit by bit. Lizzy and Liz have switched characters after watching the show and realizing they have more in common with each other’s characters.
I’m glad to be on this path I’m on. Its kind of like everything in my life makes sense now. My love for music and martial arts has helped me build, script, score, and choreograph some great Saber Guild shows. My acting experience, Star Wars lore knowledge, and attention to detail have helped me build and bring to life some great Star Wars costumes and characters. And my love for spending positive time with my family has been great. So many friends we’ve met. So many experiences we’ve shared.
This is where I belong.
With my family.
Always in motion is the future, but I know now we’re a crew. A team….