When it comes to Star Wars fandom, Savanna Oudit is here to smash the stereotype of a fashion victim from a galaxy far, far away who wears that same schlubby Lucasfilm T-shirt purchased in the mid-1990s on a daily basis.
With her lifestyle blog, The Dorky Diva, Savanna is advancing the cause of the stylish and sophisticated Star Wars fan with her flair for geek fashion, while reveling in fandom fun and holding court on a variety of fascinating topics, from skin care to sustainability. Her Style Posts are legend when it comes to inspiration for throwing together the perfect, understated Star Wars-themed outfit.
Savanna grew up immersed in everything Lucasfilm, thanks to a family who revered George Lucas’ franchise. Eventually, she embraced Star Wars and Indiana Jones as her own. Her passion for the fandom helped her forge friendships around the globe, both in person and online (including with Her Universe founder Ashley Eckstein and Disney artist Ashley Taylor).
A self-employed brand manager by day, Savanna has become a major influencer in the vast but surprisingly tight-knit Star Wars social media community. She co-hosts a podcast with Brian Ballance, aka Jedi Brian, that recently drew more than a hundred people to a meetup at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.
She’s a die-hard supporter of her fellow women in Star Wars fandom and, especially, her hero, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. The Dorky Diva brand may be synonymous with positivity, but Savanna — a self-proclaimed member of The Prequel Defense Squad — isn’t afraid to take on haters and “whiny fanboys” when the occasion arises.
Below, Savanna opens up about her love of The Clone Wars, Rogue One, and the hero she affectionately calls “Kathy” (who she recently met up-close and personal), as well as her Star Wars-inspired home decor, her interest in sustainable fashion, and a certain, special good boy named Rex.
You’re a self-employed brand manager who also creates a popular lifestyle blog, The Dorky Diva, which focuses on Star Wars, fashion, and beauty. That might sound like a weird combination to some people, but I can attest that it is a surprisingly addictive combination of topics. How did you come up with this blend for your blog and why do you think it’s so appealing?
The Dorky Diva actually stemmed from an old blog that I started when I was twelve years old. My old blog, which is now unpublished online, was very specific in terms of the topics that I wrote about. As I got older, I outgrew some of those topics and decided that I wanted a blog that gave me free rein to write about anything I liked. I really wanted a title that could grow with me throughout the years too. My brother came up with the name “The Dorky Diva” and it perfectly sums me up because I’m a totally awkward dork with a bit of a diva feminine side.
Star Wars, fashion, and beauty somehow blend together really nicely I think! Star Wars and fashion have been joining forces since the creation of Her Universe in 2010 and thanks to Ashley Eckstein, she’s even recently brought Star Wars into the realm of beauty products. I like talking about fashion and beauty/skincare outside of the Star Wars universe as well, but it’s fun when those worlds collide! The great thing about The Dorky Diva is that I’m not boxed into a corner of those three topics. I write about all sorts of topics online in addition to those main themes.
You’ve described yourself as having a “geeky side with a splash of class and style.” Were you always into fashion and style? What sparked your interest?
I was most definitely not always into fashion and style. I grew up as a tomboy wearing my brother’s hand-me-down shirts and ripped up denim shorts. I didn’t really find an interest in style until I went to college and found myself wanting to express myself with clothing. In college, I met a girl named Natalie who always wore the cutest outfits. She always looked so effortlessly polished. We ended up becoming best friends and she helped me launch Star Wars Style on my blog.
Every week, I would go over to Natalie’s apartment with a few Star Wars clothing pieces and she would help me put outfits together that matched my personality. She also helped shoot a lot of the first outfits that were featured on The Dorky Diva. Unfortunately, we live on opposite sides of the country now, but Natalie and I are still very close and I owe her all the credit for opening my eyes to personal style!
What’s your Star Wars origin story? When were you first introduced to George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away?
Honestly, I don’t even know when I first watched Star Wars, which seems crazy to say. I was born into a household that lived and breathed Star Wars on a daily basis. I have a brother that is two years older than me and he was hooked on Star Wars from the time I was born. We always had the special editions of the original trilogy playing on our TV at home.
Up until the release of The Clone Wars animated series, I liked Star Wars and consumed its content on a daily basis, but I wasn’t involved with the hardcore fandom side of it. Dynamic characters like Cad Bane and Asajj Ventress sucked me into the series and made me wonder what else was out there. The Clone Wars opened me up to the online world of discussion forums and blogging. I guess you could say the rest is history!
How has your love of Star Wars evolved throughout your life? Why do you think it’s been such an enduring passion for you?
My Star Wars fandom has definitely evolved from considering it a family ordeal to claiming it as my own personal interest. My mom used to take my brother and I to Star Wars events when we were kids. It was something we always did as a family, which I absolutely loved. While we still attend Star Wars Celebration together, we definitely have our own friend groups now and I feel like my identity as a Star Wars fan stands on its own.
Star Wars has always been an important part of my life because it somehow connects me with people I’d otherwise never have a chance to meet. I have friends all over the globe because of Star Wars. My husband and I met seven years ago at a Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, ended up dating long distance many years later, and then recently got married. Without our mutual love of Star Wars, our paths would never have crossed. It’s crazy to think about how many people I’ve met and become friends with just because we struck up a conversation about this cool galaxy far, far away.
You created a T-shirt that says “Prequel Defense Force.” The prequels haven’t always received a lot of love. What does that trilogy mean to you?
The prequel films were a huge part of my childhood. I was born in 1996, so only the first few years of my life were spent not knowing the prequels. As I got older and became more immersed in watching movies on a daily basis, picking up any of the prequels tapes and popping them in the VHS player was just second nature. I remember going to the midnight premiere of Revenge of the Sith, too. I was nine years old and I thought it was so cool that my mom took me to go see the movie past my bedtime. We dressed up in Jedi costumes and everything.
The prequels mean so much to me for those reasons, but also because they shaped the future of filmmaking, which most people don’t realize. Without George Lucas pushing the boundaries to create characters like Jar Jar Binks, CGI wouldn’t be where it is today. The prequel trilogy tends to get a lot of negative hate, but I really think that those films were exactly what they needed to be for the overall story.
I think most kids who grew up loving Star Wars idolized George Lucas, but you idolized Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. Why is she such a hero to you?
I first became aware of Kathy when I was in middle school and watched the Indiana Jones behind-the-scenes featurettes on a regular basis. As much as I loved her back then, it didn’t strike me until I was in high school that she was in a very small group of women that were responsible for the making of so many great films.
She’s a hero to me because she didn’t come from anything different than my upbringing. She had a normal life with normal parents and chose to work hard every single day to get where she is now. I also really admire the fact that she and her husband Frank Marshall have been married for so long. It’s typical in Hollywood for marriages to fall apart easily and I think that Kathy has probably had to work hard at her marriage for it to last this long. They are an amazing couple!
Kathleen Kennedy has gotten a lot of flak in recent years, especially from the more toxic side of the fandom, but I love that you’ve always championed her. Why do you feel that’s important?
Women need to support women — that’s the short version. With the introduction of the internet and access to social media, negativity is becoming more and more prevalent online. I can’t even tell you how sick I am of hearing whiny fanboys say they think Kathy should be fired from Lucasfilm. I’d love to give all of those trolls her job and then criticize their every move just like they do to her.
Do I agree with all of the studio decisions that Kathy makes? No. Do I still admire her and think she’s the best person for the job? Yes. She’s worked incredibly hard and has earned every bit of her position as the head of Lucasfilm. It’s important for young women like myself to voice their support for women like Kathy in the industry. We need more role models like her and I believe that if we continue to support and applaud these women, we will start to see more women getting the jobs they deserve.
You got to speak with her briefly last month at Star Wars Celebration. Tell me about that experience.
Ah, this is really emotional for me to even think about. I had briefly encountered Kathy at the premiere for Solo: A Star Wars Story last May, but because the interaction was so quick, I only got to take a picture with her — no words were exchanged.
I happened to cross paths with her again at Celebration Chicago and didn’t want to lose the opportunity to tell her how much I admire her. So I ran over, dipped between her security guards, and just briefly told her that I appreciated her work so much. The interaction was really short, but she told me “thank you” and gave me a hug. I instantly welled up with tears when I looked her in the eye and told her how much she meant to me, so I’m happy the chat was short. I ended up running to the nearest restroom and crying in a bathroom stall for a few minutes.
It sounds so silly and dramatic, but she is my biggest inspiration and has motivated me through a lot of tough decisions in my life. I very literally ask myself, “What would Kathy do?” all the time. While she probably doesn’t know who I am or may not remember our meeting, I hope that she felt some sort of appreciation from our quick chat that day. I hope she knows that she is a massively influential figure for tons of young people.
You have special relationships with some major figures related to Star Wars, including Her Universe founder Ashley Eckstein and Disney artist Ashley Taylor. How did these connections come about? What’s it like to hang out with these people?
I met Ashley Eckstein just like most people meet her — at an autograph signing! We ended up seeing each other year after year at Disney’s Star Wars Weekends event and she eventually asked me to help her by taking photos of the Her Universe pop-up shop that was featured in the Star Wars Weekends store called Darth’s Mall. I was 16 years old when I took these photos for her and it felt pretty special to see my images on the official Her Universe blog for everyone to see.
Fast forward seven years after we met and I ended up finding a job opening on the Her Universe website. Ashley and I had become friends since then, so I texted her and told her that I was seriously interested in the position. I ended up applying, went through three months of interviews, and ended up getting the job! After moving to California, I got to work with Ashley for about a year by running her social media accounts and producing videos for the Hot Topic family of brands, which included Her Universe.
Through Ashley Eckstein, I was introduced to Ashley Taylor. I was filming them at Disneyland one day and struck up a conversation with Ashley Taylor about The Office, which just happened to be her favorite TV show. We instantly became close friends!
They are both such huge inspirations for me. They both work harder than most people could even imagine and they never take no for an answer. Sometimes it’s a little crazy to think that I’m friends with people that I admired so greatly when I was a teenager. Both of these women were incredibly supportive when I decided to start my own business, which meant the world to me.
So, we know that you adore Star Wars. What are some of your other favorite fandoms?
Since Star Wars consumes most of my life, I have very little room left to enjoy other franchises. With that being said though, I am a massive Indiana Jones fans. I grew up watching those films as often as I watched Star Wars, so they’ve been a huge part of my life since birth. The sense of adventure in the Indiana Jones movies is so fun and I think all of the characters are perfectly written.
Let’s talk more about The Dorky Diva. The blog looks so polished and effortless. What kind of behind-the-scenes work goes into maintaining it?
First off, thank you! The Dorky Diva has evolved over the years and I’ve slowly been fine-tuning the design of the blog. Maintaining the site in general doesn’t take too long, but each and every blog post requires a different amount of time to complete. Style posts are usually fairly quick to put together while reviews or opinion-based pieces take weeks, sometimes even months to write. One post in particular that I wrote about sustainable fashion took me three months to write. Sometimes I shoot, write, and publish style posts all within a day.
What do you enjoy most about blogging?
I think the best part about blogging is getting to connect with similar people online. Self-expression through The Dorky Diva has been really fun and I tend to post about my personal life often because it’s nice to hear from other people online that are going through similar situations. I can’t even tell you how many sweet comments, notes, and hand-written letters I’ve received over the years from people who support my blog. I feel incredibly lucky to have such supportive readers that have led to amazing friendships just from a simple blog about Star Wars.
One of the highlights of the blog is your Star Wars Style posts. Where do you draw inspiration for these posts? Tell me about the process of styling an outfit.
The Star Wars Style posts are super fun and they start in several different ways. Typically I will find a cool Star Wars piece of clothing and style an outfit around that, but other times I’ll find a funky skirt or pair of shoes and figure out how to incorporate Star Wars around it. I try to use pieces that I currently have in my closet, but sometimes I will go thrifting to find a piece that I need to complete the look I have in mind.
In all of my outfits, I try not to go too overboard with the Star Wars elements. The inspiration always comes from wanting an outfit that I could wear in everyday situations, but have a little nod to Star Wars that fans will understand. After figuring out what I want to wear, I try it on to see how everything fits, swap pieces out if they’re not working, and then I take photos.
In the past, many of my friends have lent a helping hand by taking the photos for me, but thankfully now my husband has been acting as my photographer. After shooting the photos, I write up a brief post and try to show off as many elements of the outfit as possible, including a head-to-toe photo and several close-ups of accessories.
You also host a podcast, The Dorky Diva Show, with your friend Brian Ballance, aka Jedi Brian. How did the podcast come to be? What do you enjoy about this project?
I started The Dorky Diva Show by myself in 2015. I had previously co-hosted many different Star Wars podcasts, but after a while I really yearned to start my own show and make my own discussion topics. After doing a few episodes on my own with various special guests, I decided to have Brian on the show just for fun. I enjoyed his contributions so much that I decided to make him a semi-regular co-host, which obviously turned into a full-time co-host!
He’s really pushed me over the years to keep doing The Dorky Diva Show, which was something I considered ending just because I felt too busy to keep up with the show at one point. It’s always the highlight of my week now to turn on the microphone and talk with Brian about whatever Star Wars topic we choose.
He and I actually disagree on probably 98% of the topics we discuss, which makes every episode so fun. I think the one thing I love the most about our show is that we respect all opinions. While we may jokingly have a heated debate from time to time, it’s all done in good fun.
You and Brian hosted a Dorky Diva meetup at Celebration and it was a big success. What was that experience like?
In one word — surreal. Brian and I hosted our very first meetup back in 2017 at Star Wars Celebration Orlando. Since central Florida is my home turf, we had a huge turnout full of people that followed my blog or listened to our show. When we decided to host a meetup at Star Wars Celebration Chicago this year, I really didn’t think many people would attend. I don’t know a ton of people from Chicago and most of my friends from Florida weren’t attending the convention, so I expected the turnout to be small.
To our surprise, we had just over 100 people mingle with us throughout the night. Some people who weren’t even attending Celebration drove to Chicago just to meet us. It left me speechless! To have such an amazing community of people that support what we do is just … mind boggling. I’m so appreciative of everyone that came to the meetup and took the time to chat with us.
Recently, you’ve become interested in sustainable fashion and that’s something you’ve talked about on your blog and social media. Why has this become important to you?
Sustainable fashion is something that I had never even heard about until a year or two ago. It’s important to me because the fashion industry directly impacts our environment and if we are conscious of our choices, everyone can make a small impact on the world. I will say though, I hit a slump with my blog’s style posts after discovering the truth about the fashion industry. It made me question if I even wanted to support the fast fashion industry and continue styling outfits for my blog.
Ultimately, I’ve decided to walk the fine balance of choosing sustainable basics (jeans, shirts, shoes, etc.) when possible while still throwing in a cool piece of Star Wars clothing. I’m also always on the hunt for sustainable geek chic clothing and try to support those companies that are making a difference. Even if I’m not particularly in love with the designs, if a company is attempting to make geeky apparel in an ethical way, I will buy at least one piece from their collection to say, “Hey, this is important and I support you.” It’s easy to show your support with words, but new companies really need people to support them with their dollars. I hope that sustainable geek wear will become widespread very soon.
This is a huge year for Star Wars with so much new stuff in the franchise being released and, of course, the opening of Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. What are some of the recent and upcoming debuts and releases you’re looking forward to?
I’m really thrilled about the return of The Clone Wars and the introduction of the very first Star Wars live action series — The Mandalorian. I love television series because they oftentimes give you more time to bond with new characters rather than in full-length movies. I mean, think about Ahsoka Tano. She’s probably had more screen time in The Clone Wars than most Star Wars characters from the movies will ever have!
Do you have plans to visit Galaxy’s Edge?
Unfortunately, not yet. My mom is a cast member in Walt Disney World so I’d love to fly home sometime and visit Galaxy’s Edge with her, but it’s much more convenient to hop on a quick flight to Anaheim, California. I traveled quite a bit in the early part of this year, so I’m holding off on making Galaxy’s Edge plans right now. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll get to see Batuu by the end of the year, but I’m also totally fine with waiting a while.
You’re a professional brand manager with your own business, Oudit Creative Solutions. Does your geeky/Star Wars side intersect at all with your business?
As of this year, yes! Last year when I started my business, about half of my clients were non-fandom related. However, thanks to some special connections I’ve made throughout the years as a blogger, I’m thrilled to say that every single one of my clients now is somehow connected to Star Wars, Disney, or other pop culture fandoms.
It’s really fun to work with licensed companies and creators each day that love Star Wars as much as I do. Sometimes meetings with my clients will start off talking about the latest Star Wars news and then we will get down to business and chat about work-related stuff. I absolutely love my job and wouldn’t change it for the world.
You’ve incorporated quite a bit of Star Wars into your home decor. What are some of your fave collectibles/Star Wars items on display in your home?
I love collecting original artwork, especially when it features obscure characters or scenes from Star Wars. One of my favorite additions to our house has been my Zam Wessel inking from Danny Haas, who is an insanely talented artist from Florida. I feel like Zam is very unrepresented in merchandise so when he agreed to paint her for me, I was thrilled. Our house is covered with Star Wars items though. In my opinion, it’s done in a very tasteful way so that non-Star Wars fans might not even notice the various collectibles we have scattered around the house.
If you were marooned on a desert island and could only have access to one Star Wars title (whether it be a movie, television series, or other medium), which one would you choose?
Oohh, tough question! I think I’d choose either The Clone Wars series or Rogue One. As I mentioned before, I love The Clone Wars because of its interesting character arcs and stories, but I also really love Rogue One. The scene where Jyn is watching the hologram message from her father gets me emotional every single time. I really love both of their characters.
What are your future goals, plans, or dreams for The Dorky Diva?
Gosh, I have lots of big dreams and plans for The Dorky Diva. I won’t specifically mention the goals I have for it because I like to be careful about protecting my ideas, but I definitely plan on continuing Star Wars Style posts along with sharing big moments in my life on the blog, as well as expand the brand in different ways.
It’s neat to have an online blog for so many years because it almost acts as a personal journal, which is why I like to write about personal moments online. It helps me remember exciting things that have happened in my life because I’m notorious for losing physical journals.
In conclusion, please tell us about your sweet dog, Rex.
Awww, I love my Rexy boy. Rex is a half German Shepherd, half Malinois that my husband got as a puppy before we even started dating. He’s named after Captain Rex from The Clone Wars since my husband is a huge clone trooper fanatic (thankfully I am, too).
The Malinois side of him makes him super energetic and very difficult to deal with at times, but we both love him so much and he’s a very special part of our family. It’s nice getting to work from home and see his sweet face all day.
Photos courtesy Savanna Oudit.