‘Fae’d to Black’: Blerdcon returns for its 7th year with a star-studded lineup

On July 7, Blerdcon marks its 7th year with a “Fae’d to Black” theme and panels featuring Cree Summer, Rachel True, and more.

Black nerds and culture fanatics, get ready to “Fae’d to Black.”  

Blerdcon, the annual Black nerd convention founded by Hilton George and the late Hassan Parrish, is returning for its 7th year this Friday, July 7, through Sunday, July 9, at the Hyatt Crystal City in Arlington, Va. This year’s theme? “Fae’d to Black,” which will include a panel featuring Black cult-classic favorite Rachel True (of “The Craft”), ’til dawn afterparties, the return of the Blerdcon food truck rally and wildly successful barbershop, and more. 

Blerdcon, Blerds, Black nerd convention, Hilton Geroge, "Fae," Black fae characters, Black fantasy-horror characters, Black fantasy characters, Black superheros, Black culture, Black nerds, theGrio.com
(Photo credit: Blerdcon)

Ahead of this year’s convention, George sat down with theGrio over Zoom to discuss what this year has in store for attendees. According to George, this year’s convention will be its biggest year yet, and at roughly 10,000 attendees, it will draw its largest crowd to date. His prediction for Blerdcon 2023 is that guests should expect the unexpected.

“There’s so much going on that I’m anticipating [and] that is not part of the program that’s going to happen; that spontaneous thing that happens when the secret sauce gets to boil, and it’s going to be huge,” said George.

Cree Summer, Rachel True, Blerdcon 2023, Swarm, The Rugrats, Black nerds, Black voice actress, Black voice actor, theGrio.com
Cree Summer attends the Los Angeles premiere of Prime Video’s “Swarm” at Lighthouse Artspace LA on March 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

That includes a panel featuring screen and voice actress Cree Summer, who reportedly hasn’t done a convention in roughly seven years. Blerdcon will also host Summer’s ‘90s-themed birthday bash during the convention Friday night, scheduled to run well past 2 am.    

To date, Summer, best known for the role of “Freddie Brooks” on “A Different World,” has also portrayed countless other characters, including voicing Susie Carmichael on ”The Rugrats,” and, most recently, roles on “Swarm” and “Run the World.” 

“She’s a huge star, and to have her come out and [join a crowd more willing to attend public events since COVID-19] has just generated a huge amount of momentum,” said George. “The ground is rumbling before the herd arrives.”

This year’s “Fae’d to Black” theme also has many excited. For “the muggles,” as George refers to those less familiar with fantasy genres — “fae” specifically refers to magical beings, typically those associated with nature; think fairies, elves, satyrs, nymphs, or trolls.  Accordingly, this year’s theme draws deserved focus to the genre’s creators, cosplayers, writers, artists, lore, and community

George said the theme largely emerged as a response to current pop culture. The “Dungeons and Dragons” movie, released in March, drove huge excitement among cosplayers, he explained, adding that for Blerds specifically, characters are beginning to abound. 

From Amazon’s “Lord of The Rings” series to AMC’s “Interview with a Vampire” reboot, there has been a noted increase in Black fae and fantasy-horror characters. Even the highly anticipated “Game of Thrones” spinoff “House of the Dragon” prominently featured a Black family, not to mention Netflix’s top-ten hit “The Witcher,” which has introduced several Black fae characters. 

“A lot of that stuff was being brought to the forefront,” said George. 

At Blerdcon, the fae world will collide with the more general Blerd experience in a variety of ways, including a tea party, a fashion show during the halftime of the convention’s cosplay contest, and Saturday night’s “Incantation” afterparty. But while “Fae’d to Black” is this year’s theme, George promises there will be a little something for every Blerd. 

Other scheduled programming includes panels such as “Martial Arts from the Motherland: Origin of Black Air Force Energy” and “LeBron vs. James: A Nerdy Sports debate,” as well as events like “Anime & Twerk” and a Mario Party tournament where swearing is not only expected but encouraged. There will also be events geared toward parents, children, women, men, LGBTQ+, the disabled, and even pole dancers. In short, a broad cross-section of fandoms has been considered and will be represented.    

Blerdcon programming will begin Thursday; however, the convention officially kicks off Friday at noon with its opening ceremonies. From there, attendees can readily explore the world created by the Blerdcon organizers, with events running all night. 

George has this simple advice for first-timers: “Be ready to be overwhelmed.” Hosting between 100 to 150 different panels, scheduled almost 24 hours a day throughout the weekend, “We do more and in higher volume than most conventions,” he explained, adding that the all-night atmosphere may feel like a Las Vegas casino to some. 

Accordingly, George advises anyone attending Blerdcon for the first time to keep a close eye on the extensive schedule and use the Evently app as their guide. 

Also, “just be open,” he said. “Black people are not a monolith, and Black nerds, therefore, are not a monolith,” adding: “You meet the Black space with from where you are, and celebrate that,” he said. 

Kay Wicker is a lifestyle writer for theGrio covering health, wellness, travel, beauty, fashion, and the myriad ways Black people live and enjoy their lives. She has previously created content for magazines, newspapers, and digital brands. 

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. TheGrio’s Black Podcast Network is free too. Download theGrio mobile apps today! Listen to ‘Writing Black’ with Maiysha Kai.