Dear Mama Regal:
Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha'olam, shech kakah lo ba'olamo.
(Literal translation: “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has such as this in His universe.”)
I say this blessing every time I turn on my laptop and see the screencap of the Evil Queen I have saved there. Unfortunately, my knowledge of Hebrew is limited, so I cannot create a blessing that is more tailored to great artists or their work. I do this because, believe it or not, your work as the Evil Queen has been a blessing in many ways. I would now like to share a few of them with you.
Your performance as the Evil Queen in Once Upon A Time has connected me to a community of intelligent, engaged citizens of the world. It has been a real treat to have in-depth discussions about issues Regina brings up simply by being who she is. Through this character that you have so brilliantly brought to life, we are able to talk about race, gender, sexuality, class, mental illness, trauma, abuse, and other things that affect us here and now.
This would not have been possible were it not for you.
Another blessing that your portrayal of Regina has bestowed upon me is a growing awareness of my own capacity for compassion. It's amazing to me that I can look at this person who has done such horrible things and still see what is wonderful and beautiful about them. Through you, I feel in my gut the suffering at the root of all the evil that she does. If I had the power, I would not punish her; I would heal her. In a roundabout way, by simply doing what you do, you have made me a wiser and more compassionate human being.
For that, I thank you.
In appreciation for your life and your work (and the fact that you are a fellow English major), here is an annotated list of books about fairy tales that I believe you would really enjoy. If you get your hands on any of these, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
- Joan Gould, Spinning Straw into Gold: What Fairy Tales Reveal about the Transformations in a Woman's Life. Examines fairy tales as stories about the changes that women undergo at different phases of life. One of my favorites.
- Emma Donoghue, Kissing the Witch. Haunting retellings of familiar stories that subtly reveals the interwoven and cyclical way that fairy tales are born and reborn over and over again.
- Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber. A classic. Visceral new versions of old fairy tales. Neil Jordan's The Company of Wolves was based on one of the stories.
- Susanna Clarke, The Ladies of Grace Adeiu and Other Stories. Short story collection that has all the wonder and whimsy and terror of traditional fairy tales.
Wishing you a very happy birthday and may more to follow.